To say Irish eyes were smiling at the end of the California Yacht Club's King of Spain Regatta Sunday would be an understatement.
They were flabbergasted with joy after this final tune-up for the Nautica 2002 Star Class World Championship Aug. 18-23.
The 73-year-old event had never seen as large or strong a field, including seven world champions and the current No. 1-ranked sailor in the class. But the name to be engraved on the silver replica of a 15th-century Spanish galleon donated by the late King Alphonse won't be Reynolds, Loof, Buchan, Cayard, Brun, Beashel, Macdonald or Van der Ploeg. They weren't even in the running.
Try Max Treacy, 24, and crew Anthony Shanks, 30, a pair of Dublin lads sailing for the Royal St. George Yacht Club. They slew those dragons and several other celebrities in the 74-boat field with a modest string of 8-18-6-5 finishes. That's three results in the top 10, one more than anyone else managed in Santa Monica Bay's devious zephyrs and easily the highlight of the 18 months they've been racing a Star.
Wow! Treacy exclaimed when he was shown the final standings at the dock. And we won by a mile.
The Augie Diaz/Christian Finnsgard duo from Florida and Sweden were nine points behind, 37-46, after leading the first day. San Francisco's Howie Shiebler, with local crew Rick Peters, was another point back in third after winning the final race in a runaway.
Sunday's other winner, Bill Buchan of Seattle, won two of his three Star Worlds before Treacy was born. Sailing with Mark Brink, he wound up ninth overall---obviously still competitive at 67. Like Shiebler, they sailed into command from the pin end of the two-part line and led at every mark in the light and streaky winds of 6 to 8 knots. The air temperature peaked at 75 (F.).
Canada's Ross Macdonald and crew Eric Jespersen were eighth---the top performing former world champions. A summary of the others' efforts was offered by Paul Cayard, who was 16th with Hal Haenel: "This regatta is going to make some people famous---people you never heard of."
Treacy and Shanks might qualify for that distinction. They were 32nd in last year's Worlds at Medemblik, The Netherlands, but they aren't counting on it being as easy starting next Sunday.
"I have to think there are a lot of guys that weren't trying as hard as they will be in the Worlds", Treacy said.
Complete King of Spain Regatta results and photos and the Nautica 2002 Star Class World Championship entry list may be accessed at http://www.starworlds2002.com