Captain – Brook O’Neill, USA
Brook is an experienced mariner, having been at sea all of his life, he comes from a family of sailors and yachtsmen. He takes pride in being a calm, cool-headed and honest seaman regardless of the situation and is equally comfortable on a motor or sailing vessel. He has strong engineering skills, a quick smile and a great work ethic. Brook sailed the entire Caribbean, South America, Bahamas and the East coast of the US before he was even 12 years old. He grew up in Annapolis Maryland, was at the NETC Naval base in Newport, and then attended University of Massachusetts where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Architecture. After practicing Architecture for a number of years in D.C. the sea called once more and he has never looked back. When he is not at sea, he is at home in Fort Lauderdale with his wife and son. His passions are free diving, spearfishing, fishing and really any other water sport.
First Officer – Jesse Clinton, USA
Jesse is originally from Savannah, Georgia. He fell in love with boating at a young age and spent his childhood sailing the east coast with his family. He learned how to sail at an early age affording him a keen understanding of the ocean. By the age of 10, he knew his lifelong dream was to be a captain. When he was a teenager, he sailed the tall ship circuit and eventually taught sailing to young adults. At age 18, he earned his captain’s license with plans of making yachting his career. Jesse has spent the past several years crewing aboard sailing yachts & busy charter motor yachts. His calm demeanour and being a natural on the ocean makes him the perfect crew member. He enjoys all water sports, especially wakeboarding, surfing, and paddle boarding. He is also very creative and likes a good challenge.
Chef - Brian Knott, USA
Brian’s culinary career started with Chef John Currence (James Beard Award Winner) of City Grocery, Oxford, Mississippi back in 1993. For a job during college, he started washing dishes here. With Brian’s desire for food, he was fortunate to move up the ranks and began to learn the ideology of a farm to table mentality. From there, Brian had the fortune of working with other acclaimed Chefs such as Troy Thompson and his mentor Gunther Seeger at the LA Reid owned Fusebox in Atlanta, GA where he became enthralled in the trend of fusion cuisine, Chef Tony Hanslits renowned for his award winning Italian bistro Tavola di Tosa in Indianapolis and Chef Hidemasa Yamamoto at Chatham Bars Inn, one of the top resorts in the world.
Further to this, several James Beard Nominees were a part of Brian's skill refinement. These include, Frank Lee and Jason Scholz at High Cotton in Charleston, SC as well as later with Jonathan Eismann at Pacific Time in Miami. In between, Brian found himself eager to run his own operation and bought a bar and restaurant in Costa Rica which after four years he was able to sell profitably. The restaurant business being so competitive and somewhat discouraging is what lead Brian into yachting, where he could be creatively independent and successful. He has since spent 11 years as both a private estate chef and Head Chef on yachts having cooked for numerous celebrities including cooking for and with celebrity chefs such as Ming Tsai during the 2014 Masters Tournament and Mario Batali. Versatility is an understatement when describing Brian’s skills and guests will have a truly exceptional culinary experience thanks to his creations aboard Avalon.
Chief Stewardess – Christa Piquette, USA
Being born in Providence, Rhode Island, Christa has been connected to all kinds of boating, sailing and various water sports from a very young age. She has always been super active and involved with sports, but softball is what brought her down to the sunshine state. Christa played softball at Florida Gulf Coast University and graduated in 2005 with a degree in Communications.
Her brother, captain of a Fishing Vessel in Narragansett, RI is the one who got her into the yachting industry and her events background and passion for the ocean is what keeps her onboard. Her ambition is to provide all guests with a unique and memorable experience. Christa’s passion for excellence and adaptability shines in her personality when meeting the desires of each guest onboard.
Second Stewardess - Emery Jones, USA
Emery, a NOLA Native, was born and raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She spent every summer in North Carolina sailing with her family. Emery's grandfather and father's passion for sailing is what drew her to a career on the water. She eventually moved to Fort Lauderdale, Florida in order to make this happen, and has been working on Yachts ever since. When Emery's not at sea, you can find her soaking up the sun, keeping fit, staying active, and hanging out with the crew.
Third Stewardess – Jess Andrews, USA
Jess calls Omaha, Nebraska home even though she moved around plenty growing up as a military "brat". She has a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from Hawai’i Pacific University. Upon graduation, she moved into the hospitality industry working for Caesars Entertainment Casinos before transitioning into fundraising for non-profits including Joslyn Art Museum, Opera Omaha, and Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium.
Jess was looking to switch things up and escape chilly winters while still utilizing her Midwest work ethic, service, and hospitality skills. She might be new to the yachting world, but she’s loving the “hustle and bustle” each day brings. Outside of work, she enjoys exploring, relaxing with family and friends, a beautiful day at the beach, and great food.
Bosun – William Claridge, USA
Wil was born in Tallahassee, Florida but was raised in the Bahamas where he was afforded the opportunity to grow up on the water where he enjoyed fishing, diving, and other water related activities. He has a deep love for the ocean which led him to the yachting industry. He has since obtained his captains and engineering license and continues to further his knowledge and career within the industry. William enjoys beaching, paddle boarding, fishing, as well as many other water and land based sports and activities.
Deck/Stew – KayLani Penas, USA
KayLani was raised in Minnesota where she spent her youthful summers boating on the lakes and stayed active with sports year around. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design and Marketing. After working behind a desk during cold Minnesota winters, KayLani decided she needed something more adventurous in her life, it was this desire that brought her into the yachting industry. When she’s not cruising on the boats, KayLani can be found on the beach, staying active with sports and traveling.
Chief Engineer – Matthew Solman, Australian
Matthew "Sol" is from the Hunter Valley in Australia, a small town called Singleton, but now resides in Ft. Lauderdale. Before joining the yachting industry he worked as an Electrical Fitter/Mechanic in the local coal mines. Sol has been working on yachts now for over 12 years and this has seen him employed on yachts such as VAJOLIROJA/AMPHITRITE, ROCHADE , ONE MORE TOY, AL SHOUA and the sailing vessel MONTIGNE. Living near the coast he spent a lot of time in the ocean from a young age surfing, wake boarding and skiing. He is also a PADI open water diver and hobbies include snowboarding, rugby, swimming, traveling and brewing craft beer. Sol brings a great deal of experience to ensure the smooth operation of the vessel and currently holds a Y3 Chief Engineer license. He also holds his Power Boat level 2 certificate and relevant safety certificates.