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 co