The good news continues! The Community Sailing School @ Pistakee hired a new Program Director and nine highly-energetic, competent and enthusiastic instructors who did an awesome job teaching our students last summer. They were in very good hands with Tristan as our Program Director and Mackenzie, Alana, Ashley, Jacob, Reid, Max, Natalie, Scirys and Lilly as their instructors. They are a dedicated, fun-loving and caring group! Fortunately many of them will be returning for our summer 2023 season. Please stay tuned for updates as we confirm our staff for the new season.
Tristan Kraft - Program Director
Tristan is our new Program Director. He is a US Sailing Level 1 certified instructor and a recent addition to our sailing school family. Growing up on the lower Fox River, water skiing has always been his primary choice of activity. However, in recent years he has been participating in the C Scow Sunday race series at the Pistakee Yacht Club. Tristan's passion for sailing has grown exponentially over the years. He also loves helping other people discover their passions and develop new skills. His on-the water experiences and his classroom responsibilities as a sailing instructor have and will continue to benefit our students.
Alana Vodicka - Head Instructor
Alana is returning to the team this year as a US Sailing Level 1 certified Head Sailing Instructor for her fifth year at CSS@P. Alana grew up on Bangs lake in Wauconda. She has spent her summers waterskiing and sailing. She learned to sail at a young age. Her family has been a member of the Pistakee Yacht Club for many years. Alana races a C-Scow with her dad Alex at the Pistakee Yacht Club on Sunday mornings. Alana had also been running Track and Field and Cross Country for seven years. Alana graduated from Wauconda High School in May and will be studying Psychology at the University of South Carolina in August. Alana loves working with young kids and helping them learn the joys of sailing.
Jacob Annesser - Head Instructor
Jacob has been with the Community Sailing School for many years. It is a true reflection of his commitment and dedication to his students and sailing. Jacob has shared in his own words that "I have been sailing since I was ten. During those years I have been an instructor for 4 years. I am currently completing my US Sailing Level 1 Instructor certification. Sailing has always given me that drive to not just better myself, but to also help my community as well. Sailing is why I am a member of the McHenry County Explorers Post. I played tennis and bowled all four years during high school. To me the sailing school is not just a place of learning, but also a place to gain life long friendships, expand your comfort zone, and have fun while doing it."
Ashley Plant - Head Instructor
Ashley has been with CSS@Pistakee for several years. She started as a student in 2013, completed the Instructor Training course, and volunteered for a summer before working as an instructor the past few years. Ashley has grown up around a family who loves sailing. She is a huge fan of spending time on the water. Ashley races an MC Scow with her dad on the weekends . She loves sailing all kinds of boats, whether it’s for racing or cruising around the lake. Ashley graduated from Grayslake North High School in the spring and is heading to Boston for college this fall. Ashley took lots of honors and AP classes in high school, as well as being involved in National Honor Society, the Environmental Club, Student Athletic Training and Varsity Girl’s Soccer, in which she was a captain. Ashley’s favorite part of being an instructor is our sailing school's hands-on teaching style. She loves teaching the kids how to properly sail one of our many boats. Ashley can’t wait to continue to do so this summer!
Scirys Burnell - Instructor
I have been sailing for a little over ten years now, seven of which I spent at our sailing school. In light of the Covid pandemic, the last several years I did not get to join the sailing school over the summer. However, I still spent as much time sailing as I could. During that down time I took my boat out on the Bay countless times, rented a Hobie Cat down in Florida and sailed on the ocean, and went windsurfing in Mexico. This will be my first year instructing, although I have been through the sailing school's Instructor Training course twice and have taught a few people before. I enjoy sailing because of how fun, exciting, and relaxing it can be. I have always wanted to be a sailing instructor ever since I was young, so I could share and teach the things I love so much to new people. Outside of sailing I enjoy playing guitar, teaching myself the drums, running on the Johnsburg High School track team and working on cars. Some interesting sailing-related things I've gotten to do are race Open Bic's, 420's and C Scows. One major piece of advice I have for sailing is to watch your head. You will hit your head on the boom at some point. I look forward to being a part of the instructor team and hope to pass on any knowledge I can and learn more in the process.
Reid Deniston - Instructor
Reid has been with the sailing school since he was seven. He has progressed from a student to a volunteer instructor last year. This year he is a Junior Instructor. He is working hard to get his US Sailing Level 1 certification, with the hope that next year he will be a full-time instructor. Reid loves the water and loves to use sailing as an activity during the summer. It is a unique skill to know. It’s like riding a bike, once you know how to sail you’ll never forget. Reid loves to teach kids how to sail and to fall in love with it, as he has since he was seven. Reid goes to Grayslake Central High school. He plays on their freshman baseball team. He doesn’t let sports get in the way of his academics, although he is in many advanced classes and wants to go into engineering. Some advice Reid would like to share with his students is to always ask questions. Questions will let your instructors know how to help you grow. Reid is excited to be an instructor this year. He can’t wait to help the kids have a fun summer!
Max Mazzocco - Instructor
Max is a new addition to the instructor team this year after volunteering for the 2021 season and taking the Instructor Training course. He has been sailing at the sailing school since he was eight years old. He has loved every minute of it. Max also grew up on Bangs Lake in Wauconda. He really enjoys sailing a variety of sailboats because he likes to be challenged with new sailing experiences. Max loved volunteering during last year’s summer and is now back as a Junior Instructor. He really enjoys teaching the students and watching their sailing skills progress over time. During his spare time, Max is a sportsman who loves spending time hunting and fishing. He has a younger brother who has attended the sailing school and can never wait for the next summer to come around!
Natalie Stratton - Instructor
Natalie is thrilled to be joining the CSS@P family this year as she steps into her role as a Junior Instructor! After falling in love with sailing last summer, Natalie is honored to have the opportunity to come back and share the joy that she has found in sailing. As a private pilot, Natalie hopes to share some of her knowledge with the students as it pertains to sailing as well! She hopes that her passion for aviation, paired with her love for physics, and will carry over into the STEM aspects of our sailing school. Natalie is a rising senior at Barrington High School. She is involved in their dance program, as well as holding a head position on the Student Council Committee. Natalie hopes that her experiences will lead, motivate and inspire others to find their passions, just as she has.
Lilly Treutelaar - Instructor
Lilly has been sailing since she was five years old at Pistakee Bay Yacht club and has back most summers since. This is her first year as an Junior Instructor, although she is familiar with the position because she has taken the junior instructor class at the Yacht Club. Lilly enjoys sailing because it gives her a sense of calmness in the summer. It is something she always looks forward to doing. Being a sailing instructor is so important to Lilly because her sailing instructors have had such an impact on her. She wants to provide that same kind of inspiration when teaching her students how to sail tis summer. Lilly is on the track team and volleyball team at Libertyville High School. She also plays travel volleyball. She spends most of her winters skiing in the backcountry in Colorado. Something she wants all of her students to know is that when they are on the water, soak it all in, because the moment the summer is over, all you will want to do is be on a sailboat again.
Mackenzie Winkiel - Instructor Emeritus
Mackenzie is a certified US Sailing Level 1 sailing and windsurfing instructor. She has been teaching sailing since 2015. She has raced Class 420’s and C Scows. She also likes to paddle board on no wind days. She will have graduated from Saint Louis University this May. She also plans to continue her studies at SLU to get her Doctorate in Physical Therapy.