Photo Credit: Tom Hodge Media
It’s now been a week since the Worlds concluded in Freemantle, and boy are there a lot of stories to be told. I really want to do my best and capture the moment by talking with the people that were a part of it all. Up first is Adam Lowry, who is now a 2 time World Champion crew in the 505. As a crew myself, I was pretty excited to talk to him to see what he had to say.
Q: Congratulations on your second world championship! How are you feeling now?
Thanks! It’s really satisfying when you’ve put in a lot of effort and time to go out and perform well. At first, I think I felt relieved more than anything, but now it’s starting to sink in that we done good!
Q: What did it mean to you to have your family with you for the regatta?
My family doesn’t normally get to travel to events, so it was a real treat. When my daughters (ages 7 & 10) got the news that we won, they ran across the dinghy park and jumped on me and gave me a hug. That was pretty special!
Q: What did you do to prepare for the Worlds?
We train every Tuesday evening after work (when daylight allows) with a group of other Bay Area 505 sailors. We call it “Team Tuesday”. It’s a consistent set of training partners and we share everything on setup, technique, tactics, etc. The idea is that by sharing, everyone gets better and pushes everyone else to get better and better. One of those training partners, Parker Shinn & Eric Anderson, placed 3rd at the Worlds, which shows the recipe is working.
We also benefit from the US having such a strong 505 fleet. 4 of the top 5 finishers in the Worlds this year were from California. That makes our local events pretty epic!
Q: Last year you seemed to be in a league of your own when the wind picked up? What’s the secret to your success?
When the breeze is up, there’s a lot of extra speed you can tap into on a 505. We always start by making sure the boat is set up right. Then Mike focuses 100% on technique; driving the boat through the waves, mainsheet action, and hiking hard. I focus on what’s happening outside the boat; strategy, tactics, fleet management. That division of labor seems to work well for us. It reverses downwind, with Mike making the tactical decisions while I focus on speed, but the principle of division of labor is the same.
Living in San Francisco we also get a lot of practice in conditions that are at or above the comfort zone for a lot of other sailors. That means we’re very at ease in the breeze, and we can push the boat just as hard in 30 knots as we do in 10.
Q: Can you explain your dynamic with Mike in the boat?
Very calm but active. Pre-race, we’re gathering info and giving each other input on what feels good on boat setup, what’s happening on the race course with the breeze, current, starting strategy, etc. Once the race starts, we’re talking about what mode we want to be in (footing or sailing high upwind, fast forward or “soak low” mode downwind), wind shifts, and fleet positioning. At almost all times, one of us is focused on speed, the other on tactics, and we’re feeding each other info to help the other person do their job well.
Q: What does a typical practice look like?
It depends a bit on the conditions, but it’s always good to have an objective. If the breeze is steady, we might focus a particular aspect of tuning by lining up with our training partners. Maybe we’re trying out a new sail shape or centerboard type, and we’ll have one boat be the control and the other the experiment. Then we’ll often switch boats to see if the differences are similar with the sailors switched. When the breeze is shifty or puffy, we often focus on racing – how to get around the track most effectively in variable conditions. A post-practice debrief really helps crystallize the learning from each practice.
Q: How long have you been sailing 505s?
I starting racing 505’s in 2002 as a skipper sailing an older boat with a friend of mine. We sailed it for about 5 years, and that’s when I fell in love with the boat and the fleet. After my friend sold his boat I spent a few years racing Moths and then came back to the 505 as a crew, which given my body type is the more natural position for me.
Q: What other boats do you sail or have sailed in the past?
Right now I’m racing foiling kiteboards and getting my butt kicked, but I love it! It’s incredibly fun crossing tacks & jibes at 30+ knots, and it’s super challenging. Before that, I raced Moths & 49ers, primarily.
Q: Who has been your inspiration?
That would probably be my Dad. He was a lifelong sailor and racer and just loved being on the water. He often didn’t race for results, but he always encouraged me to pursue my sailing and other sports in whatever direction I wanted. We got to race a lot together and I cherish that time.
Q: What advice would you give to an aspiring 505 crew?
As strange as it may sound, go skipper as many high-performance boats as you can. The “work” of being a 505 crew, tacking the jib, jibing the kite, etc., is pretty straightforward and easy to learn. What separates a great crew from a merely good one is having an incredible feel for the boat and being a great tactician.
Thank you again to Adam for taking the time to talk to me!