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Story Contributors: Noel Drennan
SWEDISH BLUE CROWNED 2022 ETCHELLS WORLD CHAMPIONS
Noel Drennan Talks Through the Team’s Winning Strategy
The 2022 Etchells World Championships came down to the final race day of tricky sailing conditions, where North Sails Etchells Class Leader, Noel “Nitro” Drennan crewed on Ante Razmilovic’s Swedish Blue with Brian Hammersley to win overall victory. North Sails teams claimed a clean sweep of the podium as Anatole Masfen’s New Order finished in second place, and Lawrie Smith’s Mila in third, all competing with full North Sails inventories.
“We raced in northerly breezes, so it was always going to be pretty shifty and difficult days,” commented Nitro. “We had a compressed schedule after no racing on the first day with the Queen’s funeral holiday, as well as a few light air days to start. And before you know it we’re way behind schedule and having three races a day, which isn’t very common in the Etchells. So, we just had to get it together for long days on the water.”
There were some testing situations for the 42-boat fleet, where patience and the ability to reset between races made the difference for the leaders. “In terms of our philosophy, we knew that it might be a bit of a random and variable regatta, and going into it we probably weren’t the favorites, but we were in the second rank of teams who could do it.”
“Unfortunately we had a bad first day, and we definitely had to work past that and get on with the rest of the regatta. After that bad first race with a 35th, we had to regroup and make sure we weren’t out on one of the edges again. So we probably worked better together after having our bad race and kept it all together from there.”
Swedish Blue’s resilient mentality wasn’t their only team strength, with a wealth of experience sailing on the Solent among the crew, and all-round easy speed setup from their North Sails sail package shining through when it mattered most.
“As a team, we’ve sailed quite a bit together over the years, and last year we actually did a few regattas together in Cowes, including the pre-worlds and we were going well for the majority of the regatta. Brian and I also sailed together in the 2016 worlds and did quite well there.” said Nitro of his third place in that world championship. “Now when I look back at it I’ve done a fair bit of sailing in Cowes.”
“We had a pretty good week and it all started coming together for us. We’ve been using the North Sails standard Etchells inventory, using our tuning guide, which is quite pleasing for me. Our upwind package includes the MAL M jib and the GT M jib, so we use all the molded sails, and these two jibs were very easy to trim and user-friendly throughout the week.”
“The jib is such a critical part in the Etchells setup for trimming. So it was nice having easy-to-trim sails that were right the majority of the time. There was plenty to think about wind-wise and current-wise all the time, so the user-friendly sails made it very easy for us to look around on the race course.”
As North Sails Etchells Class Leader, Nitro has been heavily involved with the development of the current range of sails, which he says started back in 2019, with refinements and developments made since then, moving towards using molded sails.
“There’s a lot of input from around the world that goes into our Etchells sails to make the current race models their best, and currently there’s quite a few different teams trying different things. Having easy boat speed was crucial for this event, so it was quite pleasing for me to win with the standard sails, and so did second and third!”
A full list of results can be found here:
If you’re looking for more information on the North Sails Etchells setup, have a read of the Q&A our North Sails Experts had about the current inventory: