Star Worlds warm up

Szabo, Trinter, Cayard and Haines line up at US 5th district championship

Tuesday July 9th 2002, Author: Rich Roberts, Location: United States
To win the Nautica 2002 Star Class World Championship, first you must get there, which will bring up to 50 hopeful crews to the 74th Star Class 5th District Championship Saturday and Sunday, July 13-14, at the California Yacht Club.

The entries include defending champion George Szabo and crew Austin Sperry from San Diego, 1988 world champion Paul Cayard of San Francisco, with Phil
Trinter as crew, and '84 Olympic Soling gold medallist Robbie Haines of Coronado, with Bill Hardesty. Haines won the Star Districts in '74 and '81.

"Our districts are gonna be pretty exciting with a lot of good guys out there," Szabo said.

Former world and Olympic champions are automatically qualified for the Worlds scheduled Aug 18-23 on the same waters. With more than 40 boats the top eight finishers in the District event---not counting the aforementioned elite---also will advance.

Szabo, currently ranked 15th, qualified for the Worlds by winning the San Diego fleet championship last weekend. Those still seeking to qualify in the Districts include San Francisco's Howie Sheibler, who with local Rick Peters has won three of the past five years.

The 5th District, which includes the West Coast from Oregon to Mexico, has been a steppingstone to global glory in producing 27 world champions, more than any other district in the world. That list includes icons of the class such as Lowell North, who won a record four world titles and 11 districts from 1949 to '73; Dennis Conner, Vince Brun, Tom Blackaller, Malin Burnham, Bill Ficker and the man who may be the best of them all: San Diego sailmaker Mark Reynolds, the only Star sailor to win two world championships and two Olympic gold medals, plus a silver.

Szabo works for Reynolds at Quantum Sails in San Diego. Reynolds, with crew Magnus Liljedahl, recently won out over a 68-boat fleet at Kiel Week. He will not race in the Districts because of another commitment, but he and Szabo will be talking. "We're both gone a lot," Reynolds said, "like George was in Italy and Mississippi the past couple of weeks sailing Snipes, and I was in Germany. But we talk about Stars quite a bit, and George asks a lot of questions. We'll be doing some tuning together for the Worlds."

Szabo already has a good handle on Santa Monica Bay, site of the 5th Districts.

"The pressure comes from the left or the right, so it can be pretty confusing at times," he said. "[The sea is] usually light and lumpy between 5 and 8 knots [of wind], or it's great sailing between 12 and 18.

"The breezier stuff, we're all excited to sail in that, [although] overall we've done a little better in the lighter air and flatter water and when it's a little shifty."

Three races are scheduled Saturday and two Sunday, starting at 11:30 a.m. each day, conditions permitting. The course will be set 1-2 miles northwest of the entrance to Marina del Rey Harbor.

Another tune-up event for the Nautica Star Worlds is Cal Yacht Club's annual King of Spain regatta for Stars on Aug. 10-11, the week before the Worlds. The King of Spain normally involves mostly regional competitors but will draw many of the national and international sailors trying to get a feel for local sailing conditions.

Besides Nautica Enterprises, the Gold Star Title Sponsor for the Nautica Star Worlds, other sponsors at various levels are: Silver Star---RB Zack and Associates and California Yacht Club; Blue Star---Bang and Olufsen; Green Star---Quantum Sails; Red Star---Cafe del Rey, Marine Spars Inc., Spar Tech Co., Star Frozen Foods and Studio A.

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