When up to a hundred doublehanded dinghies converge on San Francisco Bay next week for the 2009 SAP 505 World Championship sponsored by SAP and APL and hosted by the St. Francis Yacht Club, one team will rate somewhere between a favorite and an enigma.

The skipper—Howard Hamlin of Long Beach, Calif.—won it all in 1999 and has finished second five times and third twice since, but for the class’s 54th Worlds he’ll be breaking in new crew. With his regular, Andy Zinn, unavailable because of a business commitment, Hamlin went for local talent.

First he asked Morgan Larson, who won the Worlds at nearby Santa Cruz in 2004, but Larson declined and suggested a buddy by the name of, uh—oh, yeah, Paul Cayard.

Hamlin fired off an e-mail to this guy Cayard and received a quick response: “I’d love to. What are the dates?”

Cayard’s only concern was that “I don’t want to hold you back.”

After all, Cayard is 50 now, although he is six years younger than the skipper. On the other hand, they have been hitting the gym hard lately.

“This is my next anti-aging prescription,” Cayard said. “The first dose was the Olympics at 45.”

Cayard does have some experience sailing a 505 . . . 30 years ago. He crewed for Dennis Surtees when they finished second in the 505 Worlds at Durbin, South Africa. Since then his career, including the distinction as America’s Rolex Yachtsman of he Year in 1998,