With a diverse background in the marine industry, Lake Macquarie sailor Michael Babbage offers a unique service to clients around Australia, branching out from sail making to rigging supply and advising through his company, MEB Sail Design.
Based at the northern end of Lake Macquarie in Warners Bay, Babbage has grown up sailing and racing a variety of boats, among them Sharpies 505’s, Lasers, windsurfing and others.
Babbage has worked for sailmakers, a chandlery, and was a sailmaker for the 33rd America’s Cup winner, BMW Oracle Racing, working with the syndicate for two years, mostly in Minden Nevada. Offering a professional, reliable and affordable service, all of these attributes give his business a distinct edge.
“I started this business in 2004; doing side jobs while sail making. The sail side of things evolved when I started putting my name on sails, running my business three days a week,” Babbage says.
And while others are struggling to make a quid during the Coronavirus pandemic, Babbage is surprisingly busy, considering all sailing events have been called off.
“It’s hard to say this when so many people are out of work, but I’ve got plenty on,” Babbage says. “I’m currently making a spinnaker for a Beneteau 40.7 and I’m starting to make sailboard sails. It’s a new project – I love windsurfing.
“I’m also making sails for a Seawind cruising catamaran. I haven’t been doing much in the way of cruising boat sails, but I’d love to do more. It’s quite different to making sails for racing boats and it’s something I enjoy.”
Babbage has a versatile business that makes and repairs sails for a broad cross-section of boats. They include Sabots, OK Dinghies, 505s, NS14s, Sharpies, Contenders, Finns and Windrush cats. He also imports Laser Club sails and Laser covers and offers a running rigging service as well.
The Lake Macquarie based sailmaker has widened his horizons again, working with Greg Johnston at Advanced Wing Systems, which makes Dacron membrane wing sails for yachts. Describing his role as “a sail technician type role,” Babbage is also in the throes of making fibre rigging for a Corsair 24, which is something new for him.
“I love that I do so many different things; it makes life more interesting,” Babbage says.
Clients speak highly of the two-time 505 Australian Championship title holder (with his crew, James McAllister): “Michael has been producing sails for my 505 and Finn dinghies for the last 10 years.
“In classes where only a handful of international sailmakers dominate these fleets, people often ask me in the boat park who MEB Sail Design is, and why I chose these sails,” Darren Gilbert comments.
“The answer is simply based on the quality and friendly service that Michael provides, which over the years has been a much more satisfying experience than the more well-known international sailmakers have offered.
“Michael’s experience with America’s Cup campaigns has given him the technical edge to produce world class sails, combined with an attention to detail that is second to none,” he continues.
“Supporting a local business is also very important to me. Some of the advantages of buying sails locally from Michael have been no added costs of exchange rate fluctuations, expensive overseas freight, and lovely new sails delivered rolled and not folded into a box!
I highly recommend giving Michael a call about your next set of sails,” Gilbert explains.
Daryl Roos concurs: “We’ve used Mick to design and build sails for a Sharpe and a 505 and they have proven to be great quality and super-fast.”
To discuss your needs and for more information on MEB Sail Design, email Michael at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone: +61 425 244 008
Visit the MEB Sail Design website: https://www.saildesign.com.au/
By Di Pearson