April’s dynamic image, as you can see, is also the cover photo for the 2021 Ultimate Sailing Calendar.
Choosing the cover is one of my biggest decisions and challenges each year when production time rolls around. But along with the excitement of poring through hundreds of new photos, I’ll admit comes quite a bit of debate and trepidation. What photo will best illustrate all the action and excitement within? ‘Leap off the shelf at the chandlery, or the ad pages and marketing brochures? Each year will hold 24 action-packed photos from around the world, but what one will represent the full breadth of this anthology of the world’s finest yachting competitions? How do I narrow it down to the ‘Ultimate Sailing’ photo of the year?
This has been my dilemma every spring, as founder and curator of the Ultimate Sailing Calendar: which brings me to another point … Next year (2022) will mark the publication of my 40th calendar! It seems impossible, but it’s the truth – and I have my dedicated patrons, fans and photo subjects to thank for this thrilling and fulfilling achievement. I am truly indebted to you for so much love and support.
And back to my quandary: most years I look for the freshest, most recent, cutting-edge images and boats. Then I compare my ‘semi-finalists’ to previous years’ covers. Is the image too similar? If last year’s cover shot was a bow-on maxi crashing through the waves, should I pick a transom shot with a robust rooster tail? Or maybe a smaller, Olympic class boat?
And this year has been quite the debacle! As I curate images with so little race action having taken place during 2020 , there is a shortage of new photos – despite also soliciting from my colleagues around the globe.
It seems (drum roll please) the stars have aligned for me to present in 2022, a ‘best of’ Ultimate Sailing Calendar! A retrospective of my favorite, most stunning and authoritative images of my career.
What have I gotten myself into?! There is so much material to choose from, spanning 40 years. Much of my earlier work is in slide film, so those images have to be sorted and scanned. And every box I open is like a trip down Memory Lane: the sailors and personalities; boats, campaigns, destinations; the electric excitement of so many fabulous regattas! It’s a huge challenge – a bit overwhelming, even - but I am determined to make this one of the most spectacular compendia of images depicting the exhilaration, splendor, development and change our sport has experienced over the past four decades. And I am hoping to make limited edition prints available of the final edit!
But back to the real world, and this scintillating shot of the TP52 Azzurra that graces the month of April in the 2021 Ultimate Sailing Calendar – because it indeed is one of my favorites. ‘Not just the curl of briny Atlantic in the foreground, the warm Portuguese sun sparkling off the waves. ‘Nor the palpable power of the massive spinnaker pulling the boat forward at raging speed. ‘But also the intensity and concentration of the crew, as the boat surges ahead of rival Sled. It is a thrill to experience TP52 racers: the crème de la crème of yachting pros; precision racers each 100% dedicated to the win, whenever and wherever they are.
Fortunately for me, ‘wherever’ for this shot was the Rolex TP52 Worlds in Cascais, Portugal: a magnificent place for racing, spectating, photographing and dining. Oops, I confess! Cascais is called the ‘Monte Carlo’ of Portugal and the Portuguese Riviera: for centuries drawing nobility and connoisseurs of all facets of life, including cuisine. (You can read more about Cascais in my earlier blog, here: https://www.ultimatesailing.com/blogs/news/splashy-bashy-cascais ) And gourmet cooking and dining is one of my all-time favorite past times.
Each evening, after a wet and wild day on Cascais Bay, where the Canary Current sweeps down the coast of Portugal and clashes with the powerful sea breeze; my foulies were hung up to dry and camera equipment wiped clean with fresh water. Memory cards were copied and downloaded and as my laptop ceaselessly whirred, we readied for a culinary exploration of the region. Dining takes place late in this chic European city, and I took full advantage of the abundance of fresh seafood and bounty of this small coastal nation.
‘Not just the traditional Bacalhau (salt cod), sardines, sausages and cheeses. Modern, new-wave eateries line the cobbled streets, where every species of crustacean and mollusk imaginable is fashioned into a feat of culinary art. Everything tasted as wonderful as it looked, and of course was accompanied by a fabulous vinho tinto, and capped with a spectacular Porto.
Photographing the Rolex TP52 Worlds ended up being a banquet for all the senses:
the sights, sounds and sensations of being out on the water capturing grand prix yacht racing, alongside the tastes and aromas of Portuguese cuisine. I am eager to return to for all of these reasons!
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