Earlier this year, San Francisco Yacht Club Member Mark Ivey was awarded the 2023 US Sailing Kevin Burnham Memorial Award. This honor is presented to a sailor who embodies the spirit of the late Olympic silver and gold medalist Kevin Burnham: passion, persistence, perseverance, sportsmanship on and off the water, and love of the sport and love of his or her competitors.
Ivey has a long list of regatta wins as a competitor and as a coach. He has been a multi-time All-American Sailor (St. Mary’s College, Maryland, where he is also honored in the school’s Hall of Fame); a keelboat champ in multiple classes; and a world- and Olympic-champ coach, taking a team to gold success. This summer, at the age of 46, Mark will have competed in and coached a combined 50 world championships.
Ivey’s nomination for the Kevin Burnham Memorial Award read: “Mark is both an outstanding sailor and a fantastic person. Just like Kevin. He’s applied his skill and enthusiasm into coaching as well as sailing in a super impressive way. Kevin was a mentor to Mark, and I have witnessed Mark accomplishing the highest heights (including both his own awards and coaching sailors to Olympic gold) while, like Kevin, bringing enthusiasm and sportsmanship to the table. Mark’s list of regatta wins as a competitor, and as a coach, is too long to mention…The fact that he’s everyone’s favorite person to lose to says a lot about his approach to the sport, to say nothing of his sailing skills.”
A career highlight for Ivey was qualifying for the Olympics as a coach, being in the Olympic Village and watching his team cross the finish and win gold after coming from behind. He had been asked to coach the Swedish Star class team of Freddy Loof and Max Salminen for the London Games in 2012.
“It was really a peak of all peaks as a coach,” he said.
Since then, Ivey has continued to coach and sail at the highest level and this summer he’ll reach his 50th world championship event sailing the Etchells Worlds in April, followed by the Melges 24 Worlds in June in Denmark. He cites the Melges 24 as among his favorite boats to sail, having sailed 14 world championships in the boat.
Humble and easy-going, known for his nurturing style of coaching, Ivey says he was touched to receive this award. “There are a lot of individual things I’ve accomplished as a sailor but this award is about being recognized as a highly contributing member to others, helping people do well on and off the water and treating people well,” Ivey commented. “That’s what Kevin did, and that’s why there’s such great momentum behind people celebrating this award. It’s a validation of the friendships and community that I’ve had all over this world just as Kevin had – a lifetime of investing in the right thing. I feel very grateful.”