Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Meanwhile, in a land down under

Design team co-ordinator Ian 'Fresh' Burns spent the Christmas holidays doing, what else, sailing. He co-navigated Wild Oats XI to a second place finish in the Sydney-Hobart race.

Although Wild Oats made a late charge, they couldn't catch Alfa Romeo, where BMW ORACLE Racing trimmer Noel 'Nitro' Drennan (IRL) was among the international crew who raced to a line honours victory.

It was a big win for Nitro as it came during his 25th Sydney-Hobart.

(Photo courtesy of Daniel Forster - Rolex)

"Winning is definitely the nicest way to do it," he told team PR director Jane Eagleson (USA) afterwards. "And Fresh was on Wild Oats, so it was nice to beat him!!"

Drennan's first participation in the race came back in 1980, on a boat called Challenge, owned by Lou Abrahams. "We had a pretty good race that year (3rd) and Lou has now done the race 45 times, so that was nice start for me."

Perhaps that's where Nitro got his inspiration to reach the quarter century mark. Or maybe he just has a surplus of motivation - because no sooner had they crossed the finish line, than he was on a plane within a few hours to get to Melbourne to get racing in the A-Class championships.

Arriving at the yacht club by noon the next day, he posted a very respectable 10th and 18th out of 50 boats that same afternoon. "I even beat JK (John Kostecki) and Cheese (Dirk de Ridder), so that was fun. We had four or five days of training before Christmas with Glenn (Ashby) and that was very productive."

Design director Mike Drummond (NZL) and BOR 90 helmsman Jimmy Spithill (AUS) are also racing in the A-Class championships. But Spithill broke his mainsheet traveller in the first race and couldn't post a result on the first day.