Our sailors win US title

TWO North Coast sailors have taken out the US 29er National Titles sailed on the bay in San Francisco.

Scott Babbage (Coffs Harbour) and David O'Conner (Byron Bay) teamed up on their 29er skiff to lead a class fleet of 60 international skiffs in the event.

Both local sailors were former squad members in the North Coast Academy of Sport Yachting Program.

The waters of San Francisco Bay are notorious for strong winds, fast current and wild chop, and on the first day of racing the wind exceeded 25 knots and many times the boats were airborne as they clocked speeds over 35km/h.

The Australian contingent revelled in these extreme conditions.

Another Australian crew, world champion 18ft skiff sailor, Euan McNicol and Jacqui Bonnithca, finishing in fourth place.

World's best

The pair of O'Conner and Babbage spent seven months last year, traveling around Europe, competing against the best sailors in the world.

They based themselves at Riva on Lake Garda in northern Italy and traveled to Den- mark, Germany, Finland and England.

The Australians won the British 29er National Titles and were placed second in the 29er Euro Cup, before heading to Lake Silvaplano in Switzerland for the 29er World Titles, where they came third.

The 29er skiff is the brainchild of Australian boat designer, Julian Bethwaite.

It has become one of the fastest growing international skiff classes around the world, since its inception six years ago.

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