This past week, the U.S. sailors with the best performances of 2019 were honored at US Sailing’s annual Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year Awards. At the end of the night, 2019 505 World Champions Mike Martin and Adam Lowry were presented with the trophy along with specially engraved Rolex timepieces. Kiteboarder Daniela Moroz won the US Sailing Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year.
The 2019 finalists were listed on a ballot and presented to panels of past Rolex Yachts award winners and sailing media journalists who voted for the winners. New to this year’s process, fans also had an opportunity to be part of the selection process and vote online. The other male finalists included winners of the Rolex Fastnet Race David and Peter Askew, and tactician Willen Van Waay who won the J24 Worlds.
Martin and Lowry were selected for their triumphant season on the highly competitive 505 circuit, where they won the 2019 505 World Championships in Fremantle, Australia in January, as well as the 505 North Americans and 505 Canadian Nationals. The win marked Martin’s fourth 505 World Championship win, and for Lowry, his second.
This is the first time that the highest prize in American sailing recognized male sailors competing in the high performance and iconic 505 circuit. American Sally Honey won the Yachtswoman of the Year for her dominant 505 performances in 1973 and 1974. Other elite U.S. sailors who have competed in the 505 class in their sailing careers and received this special distinction for their wins in other classes include: Steve Benjamin, Carl Buchan, Carol Buchan, Paul Cayard, Augie Diaz and Cam Lewis.
Post-win, we asked Martin and Lowry to comment on the recognition and what it says about the ageless 505 class.
How does it feel to win the award?
MM: I have been a finalist 6 times so this feels really great. Adam did it the right way: first nomination and he wins! One of the things that I’m most happy about is that we won together. In past years, members of the full crew are not always nominated so I am thankful that they recognized us as a team. The 505 is a team boat, period. (Ok, I know the crew is more important, but we want skippers to feel like they are equal!)
How does it rate compared to winning a 5O5 World Championship?
MM: They are kind of one-in-the-same. The Yachtsman of the Year is for the greatest on-the-water accomplishment by an American sailor in 2019, so it is nice to not only be recognized for our 505 Worlds, but also that this win, in the 505 class, was considered the top achievement. US Sailing referenced the depth of the field of sailors competing in these year’s Worlds. To us, the award spoke volumes about how competitive the 505 class is around the world.
What was your key to victory at the Worlds as well as the other championships?
AL: I think Mike and I really made strides in our weaker conditions. We’ve always been fast when the breeze is up, but this year we really turned a corner in light air, choppy, shifty, sloppy stuff. Winning the NA’s in Kingston in really challenging conditions was really satisfying. I would say that that progression really began in the lead up to the 2017 Worlds in Annapolis, where we put a lot of time in in those conditions and challenged ourselves to find ways to go better. We worked on technique, trim, sail shape; the whole lot. We finished 2nd at that Worlds, but I would say that was a big step forward; we were never slow in that event. The team that won (Mike Holt & Carl Smit ) just sailed a great event and deserved the win. But since then, I would say, we now sail with confidence in any condition. This was valuable at the Worlds in Fremantle since we saw a variety of conditions. To sail that well and win against the best of the best was extremely gratifying.
MM: We sail incredibly well together as a team, and really enjoy and respect each other. Adam and I communicate really well and have full faith in each other to perform the tasks of our respective positions. In the challenging conditions that we faced this year, I could concentrate on making the boat go fast while Adam’s tactical calls were phenomenal. We did not always round the first mark in the lead, but through sailing the boat well both mechanically and tactically, we were able to work our way back into a top position.
AL: There is a huge amount of trust between Mike and I to do our jobs. We are always focused on the next move, and communicating the right info to make the right call. We make mistakes, but we never dwell on them; it’s on to the next move.
Talk about your approach to your training program
MM: We have built a training program that brings together top sailors in our fleet to train. We share information and push each other to be the best we can all possibly be. We train together every Tuesday during the season and it is this program that has not only helped us to hone our skills and speed, but also help advance our fleet and the opportunities for other 505 sailors to find success.
AL: I think Mike captured it well. I would only add that consistent practice and sharing info is really key. It keeps us sharp and helps others develop.
You guys are well known sailors and sail 5O5s regularly. What keeps you sailing 5o’s?
MM: The 505 is a great boat. It sails well in all conditions and is really fun to sail. Also, the class continually attracts great sailors and great people. Everyone is keen to help their fellow competitor, and knows that everyone is out there for the enjoyment of the sport.
How does racing a 5O5 compare to your other sailing activities?
MM: Both Adam’s and my other main sailing activity is Foil Kiteboarding. Both are fun. Here are some of the benefits of each:
- 505 sailing is great in a wide range of conditions from 3 to 33 knots. You don’t have to get rescued if the wind drops below 6 knots
- Foil kiting is (other than an Formula 50) the fastest wind powered device around a racecourse. Mid 20s boatspeed upwind, and mid 30s downwind.
- In 505s, we are good enough at boat handling that we can sail the boat tactically. This is not always the case on the foil board, neither of us are quite there yet to pull off every tactical move we’d like to make!
- The foil gear fits in the back of your car
- The crashes hurt a lot less in the 505
- Both fleets have an interesting and fun bunch of characters to sail against and hang out with after racing.
Will you be hoping to attend the upcoming Worlds in Sweden?
Both: Absolutely. We are planning on sailing in Sweden.
For more information on the 5O5 World Championship and the other international regattas in 2020 visit the Class Website at