Santa Cruz sailor Mike Holt wins third 505 World Championship – Santa Cruz Sentinel

Mike Holt of Santa Cruz and former Santa Cruz resident Carl Smit celebrate winning the 505 World Championship sailing regatta, held in the Chesapeake Bay near Annapolis, Maryland last week. Christophe Favreau/contributedMike Holt of Santa Cruz and former Santa Cruz resident Carl Smit celebrate winning the 505 World Championship sailing regatta, held in the Chesapeake Bay near Annapolis, Maryland last week. Christophe Favreau/contributed

The Scores

505 World Championships

Annapolis, Maryland

1. USA, Mike Holt / Carl Smit: 2 -1 –(15) -5 -3 -1 -3 ; 15

2. USA, Mike Martin / Adam Lowry – 8 -[21] -[25] -6 -2 -6 -1 -3 ; 26

3. GBR, Andy Smith / Roger Gilbert – 10 -3 -6 -2 -5 -3 -[15] -[16] ; 29

4. USA, Edward Conrads / Brian Haines – 9 -6 -7 -1 -4 -[20] -6 -[12] ; 33

5. GBR, Ian Pinnell / Dave Shelton – 4 -4 -8 -[21] -[10] -7 -5 -8 ; 36

Mike Holt had the best seat on the bay for the final sailing races of the 505 World Championship, held last week in the Chesapeake Bay near Annapolis, Maryland. While all the other competitors fretted over frequent changes in wind direction and velocity, the Santa Cruz skipper could relax and enjoy the cool breeze blowing through his hair as he watched all of Friday’s action from his perch in a motorized boat.

It’s good to be the champion.

For the third time in four years, Holt will be bringing the 60-year-old 505 World Championship trophy back to the Monterey Bay. And for the second time in three years, he and his longtime crew member Carl Smit prevailed in such dominant fashion that they were able to sit out the final, hectic day of racing.

“The last day, if you have a shot to win, can be extremely nerve-racking,” Holt said Monday. “We had no sleepless nights the night before.”

In seven races, Holt’s IO Integration once finished 15th — a score it was able to drop — and otherwise finished no worse than fifth. It recorded two victories, in race Nos. 2 and 6.

In 2015, Holt and Smit won what is believed to be a record five of seven races in Port Elizabeth, South Africa on their way to claiming the world title. Holt won his first 505 World Championship in 2014 with Rob Woelfel of Nevada, who was filling in for Smit. Smit was in the middle of moving from Santa Cruz to Annapolis that year.

Last year, they placed second in Weymouth, England, to Mike Martin and Adam Lowry of Mill Valley. Holt, 49, had been trying to become just the third sailor in the history of the 505 World Championships to win three in a row.

He said falling just short of that goal fueled his drive to win this year.

“Having won one and coming so close, it’s very emotional,” Holt said. “We wanted to get it back again. It was a quietly burning desire, for sure. We did a bunch of events around Europe to prepare for this. We felt quite confident going into it.”

In a fitting ending to their regatta, Martin and Lowry — whom Holt described as “good friends and sworn enemies on the water” — were waiting at the docks for Holt and Smit when they finished their last race Thursday and broke the news of the IO Integration’s victory.

This time, Martin and Lowry finished second with 26 points, making a huge charge up the standings on the final race of the week in light winds Friday.

“If you told us beforehand that we were going to wind up second here we probably would have been okay with that,” Martin, who like Holt typically excels in the heavy air common around Santa Cruz and the San Francisco Bay, told Scuttlebutt News. “It’s tough losing to Holtie because we’re such rivals, but second in the world isn’t too bad.”

Andy Smith and Roger Gilbert of Great Britain took third (29 points) and Americans Edward Conrads and Brian Haines were fourth (33 points). Dave Shelton, a Santa Cruzan sailing as crew for Ian Pinnell, placed fifth with 36 points.

Nikola Birkner and Angela Stenger of Germany became the first all-female team to win a race at the championships when they claimed No. 3. They placed 10th overall.

“It’s fantastic. It’s just an amazing feeling,” Holt said of his win. “It’s a great bunch of people we race against. Very competitive. Incredible.”

Like the winds he’s learned to harness, though, Holt isn’t lying down after his win. He said he is right back into his workout routine with an eye on the 2018 505 World Championships, scheduled to be held in Poland.