Wednesday, 3 February 2010

America's Cup: Profile of Noel Drennan (IRL), BMW ORACLE Racing

Noel Drennan. Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

by Peter Rusch

Noel 'Nitro' Drennan (IRL) brings a wealth of experience to the team as a sail trimmer with a sail-making background.

In his role as trimmer on this campaign, he's providing back-up to the guys on the race crew - and this is where Noel's depth of experience comes in handy.

"I'm not the primary trimmer but in a back-up role. If someone gets injured or sick I can fill quite a few of the roles on the boat: wing sail trimmer, wing sail caddy, headsail trimmer or traveller," he explains.

He started sailing in Dublin, but moved to Australia with his family, where he grew up. A sailmaker by trade, he's been earning his living from the sport longer than most.

"Pretty early in the piece I could see there was a possibility of earning a living at it. But 25 years ago when I started sailmaking you didn't really get paid for sailing. You'd be lucky to get airfares. But the sport has changed, especially over the past 10 years. I really started with the Volvo Ocean Race in 2001 (a winning effort with illbruck) but had done a little bit of professional sailing before that. From then, I've never really gone back to sailmaking full time.

"I've sailed for a couple of years with Dennis Conner through his AC challenges and as well with him on the Etchells and with John Bertrand in Australia," Nitro says, naming two of the icons of our sport.

Noel Drennan on board USA. Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

As you might imagine, sailing on the USA has been a new experience for Drennan, who has mostly been a monohull sailor over the years.

"This boat is so big but for me personally, it's been a real eye-opener into multihull sailing which I hadn't been too heavily involved with before so that's been a plus.

"I really enjoy a broad spectrum of sailing and one of the things about this trimaran campaign is that it's 'forced' me to buy an A-Class catamaran and I really enjoy that. I'll continue sailing that boat in the future."

Noel Drennan, second from left, standing next to Alejandra Mato (PA to Russell Coutts) in an RC44 BMW ORACLE Racing team photo. Image copyright Anne Hinton.

Looking back, Drennan ended last year with a career high point, sailing in his 25th Sydney-Hobart race.

"In Australia it is a bit of a milestone," he says. "You're presented with a medal and there's not a lot of people who have done that many races. I started when I was 17 and have done most of them since then. It was a nice easy race and I was fortunate enough to be with Neville Crighton on Alfa Romeo and we had a great result so it was a nice way to do it."


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