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Champion water skier Sarah stable

World champion water skier Sarah Teelow is in a 'critical but stable' condition after crashing out on a competition in Sydney. Nine News.

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The driver and observer on the boat towing champion water skier Sarah Teelow are in shock following an accident that has left the 20-year-old fighting for her life.

Teelow, who crashed during the Bridge to Bridge race on the Hawkesbury River at the weekend, was on life support at Royal North Shore Hospital on Monday night.

''They can't believe what has happened,'' said Ray Patterson, the father of Darren Patterson, who was in the boat observing Teelow. ''There is no rhyme or reason to it. Darren has 25 years' experience as an observer.


Sarah Teelow. Photo: Supplied

''It's just an awkward fall. It's not dangerous. It's no more dangerous than playing football.''

Mr Patterson said the driver, Danny Knappic, had just returned from the World Water Ski Racing Championships in Spain where he competed with Teelow, who won the formula 2 category.

There have been six deaths caused by water ski accidents in Australia in the past five years, figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics show. It is not known at what speed Teelow was travelling but skiers reach speeds of up to 140km/h in the race.

Kristie Middleton, the chief executive of Ski Racing Australia, would not speculate on what caused the accident.

''The area in which the fall occurred was in open water,'' she said. ''Conditions were good and the sea slight. We are very proud of our response teams. They were on the scene virtually immediately. There are more than 50 observation and response points on the course.''

The Bridge to Bridge race runs along the Hawkesbury River, from the mouth of the river to Windsor.

Ken McManus, a spokesman for Marine Rescue NSW, who supplied five safety vessels for the event, said the conditions were good and there were no excessive winds.

Mr McManus said there was another accident near Butterfly Farm, at the Windsor end of the river, shortly after Teelow's fall. ''Another skier came off but there was no serious injury,'' he said.