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29er Class: Future AC winners racing this week off Long Beach? Huge turnout for events hosted by Ala

LONG BEACH, CA – 116 teams are set to compete in the 29er Class U.S. Nationals that start today off Long Beach and run through July 28, hosted by Alamitos Bay Yacht Club. Immediately following are the 2017 29er World Championships, starting Monday, July 31, with the champion being crowned on Saturday, August 5 with fully 130 teams registered.

On the sails you will see 16 country codes – ARG, AUS, BRA, CAN, CZE, ESP, FRA, GBR, IRL, ISV, HKG, NZL, POL, RSA, URU and USA – as the skiffs fly around the race course.

Among those competing for the USA are 29er Worlds veterans Neil Marcellini (San Francisco, Richmond Yacht Club) and Ian Brill (San Diego, Mission Bay Yacht Club), as well as Floridians Berta Puig and crew Charlotte Mack, and Olympic 49erFX sailor Paris Henken (San Diego) with Christopher Williford (Fort Lauderdale) as crew.

Several top ten finishers in the 2016 worlds from NZL and AUS are back and will be trying move up to the podium.

The 29er is the popular entry-level skiff designed by Australian Julian Bethwaite of Australia, and is the considered widely as the youth trainer for the 49er Class, the Olympic skiff.

2017 America’s Cup winning skipper Peter Burling (NZL) and ETNZ crew member Blair Tuke (NZL) were 49er Class gold medalists at the 2016 Rio Games, and silver medalists at the 2012 Olympics. Nathan Outerridge (AUS), skipper of AC contender Artemis Racing, was the 49er silver medalist in 2016 and the 2012 gold medalist. All got their skiff-racing starts in the 29er class.

At least two sailors from families with world-class sailing pedigrees are competing: Harry Melges (USA, Lake Geneva Yacht Club) grandson of Buddy Melges, the multiple world champion, double Olympic medalist, and winning helmsman of the 1992 America's Cup with AMERICA CUBED, and Morgan Pinckney (USA, Newport Harbor Yacht Club) who the grandson of legendary Star Class Champion Harry Nye. Morgan is a budding club sailor who has moved into the 29er because of the chance to sail in a world championship in local waters,

Yachts will be launched from the beach and racing will be held on multiple courses under the direction of Principal Race Officer Mark Townsend, who is a certified International Race Officer by World Sailing. ABYC is known not only for its reliably warm and windy Long Beach venue, but for its many experienced, knowledgeable and enthusiastic volunteers who have run countless national and world championships over the years, as well as playing a major role in hosting the 1984 Olympic Regatta at Long Beach. And if you believe recent news reports, it looks like Long Beach will have the Olympic Sailing Regatta again in 2024 or 2028.

We commend ABYC for all their hard work in putting these massive regattas together, and wish the best of luck to all the competitors in the 29er US Nationals and World Championships. Sail fast, have fun!

Video below courtesy of ABYC and gives a great overview of the venue for the 29er Class Nationals and Worlds. The Nationals begin today. (Video has no sound.)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Deon Macdonald is also the progeny of sailing royalty; the late, great Bill Ficker was her father. For those who know their AC history, "Ficker is Quicker" was the battle cry during the 1970 America's Cup which Bill won for the New York Yacht Club skippering INTREPID off Newport, Rhode Island Deon's husband, Peter Macdonald, is a noted sailor in several classes, including the Olympic Finn, and in offshore racing as a regular crew on the Andrews 50 IT'S OK! Their son Tyler Macdonald is a veteran of both the 29er and 49er Classes having competed for the USA on a number of national teams. Deon also sails, as seen in the photo to the right on their Harbor 20 on a recent Tuesday night. Deon is also a tireless sailing volunteer and a familiar face to many sailors young and old, including your Ed., who have been graciously hosted for regattas in the Macdonald home. We are pleased to welcome Deon as our newest SAILING ILLUSTRATED contributor. –TFE

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