SHARON GREEN'S TRADEMARK SAILING PHOTOGRAPHY 

Backyard Bash

by Sharon Green November 03, 2019

Rarely are you lucky enough to have a major, iconic offshore race spring up in your back yard, but five years ago that’s exactly what happened.

In 2015 organizers from five different California yacht clubs put their heads together and linked two established races – Spinnaker Cup and Coastal Cup – with the new-ish SoCal 300.

socal toward

Coined the California Offshore Race Week (CORW), this incredibly challenging series starts in San Francisco, where the fleet passes beneath the Golden Gate Bridge to face the frothy seas of the Pacific en route to Monterey. There it restarts two days later, sprinting down the rugged and forlorn California coast 230 miles to Santa Barbara. After an in-shore twilight race and beach party, the CORW culminates the next day with the SoCal 300: a 300-mile battle from Santa Barbara to San Diego – with a gnarly dogleg thrown in just for fun.

Imagine my glee when this circuit launched and gave me the chance to capture thrilling bluewater action like our November Ultimate Sailing Calendar image – just a hop, skip and a helicopter ride from my home!    

This shot of the TP52 Invisible Hand was captured roughly 30-miles from shore during the SoCal 300. While the Santa Barbara start is usually very genteel, the fleet then tacks out on a 35-mile reach across the Santa Barbara Channel.  As they venture into ‘windy lane’ conditions ramp up, giving sailors the full brunt of the strapping northwesterly breeze. This is just where I want to meet up with them!

Considering the light starts, it’s fairly easy for me to follow each division out to the first mark. But the starts are staggered every 20 minutes, so by the time the final class crosses the line, the first fleet has had nearly an hour-and-a-half head start!

SoCal300 Start

So then it’s hustle, hustle, hustle back to the dock and the drive (at least 20 min.) to the airport; all the while following the fleet’s progress on the live tracker.

When I can fly out of Santa Barbara, we fly over the fleet, spotting as many boats as possible along the way and their proximity to other boats. But I have to make a good mental note of who’s where, before we get too far out … soon we’re so far offshore we lose cell service and trackers. Then it’s all eyes peeled, to spot the boats against the roaring seas.

Sometimes it’s an adrenaline-fueled rush. Other times we’ve had to wait a few hours to take off; to make sure we have enough fuel and flight time to maximize every moment. For those clients who’ve ordered photo packages, we spend more time perfecting our circles and compositions; but we time it to make it to as many boats as we can. Several years in a row we’ve taken off very late in the afternoon and returned at sunset; one time we struggled through dense fog to try to boats in tiny gaps in the clouds.

through the fog

Where I  like to intercept the racers, at the west end of Santa Cruz, the boats are on starboard. I usually have the doors off on the left side of the helicopter and sit in the front so I can be on the lookout and shoot the bow-on shots: which makes for a really tricky angle for the pilot!


The stern shots are easier, which is why most of the compositions from the SoCal 300 are stern shots or overhead aerials – where we spin circles around the tops of the mast! Usually, I have three cameras with me: one with a long telephoto, one with med zoom and one with wide-angle, to capture all the various angles and compositions.

Santa Cruz

In this image you can see the crew are fully kitted up for the ride, hiking atop sailbags stacked on the windward side. They have a long night ahead, as the wet and wild course takes them around Santa Cruz Island and south toward San Diego. Although we turn back to land before dusk, we eagerly watch the tracker all night long to see who’s ahead – and sometimes, who’s bailed and is heading for home.

With an overall distance of roughly 600 miles, we think the CORW will join the roster of iconic ‘bucket list’ events for offshore sailors, like the similarly distanced Fastnet Race, Newport to Bermuda Race and Sydney to Hobart.

But at five years young, it’s already provided an exclusive group of sailors an unparalleled test of man (and woman) against the sea: with scores of images to prove it.

And Ultimate Sailing was there first, to document it. Score!

Nov 2109 calendar

 




Sharon Green
Sharon Green

Author




Also in News

Back in the Saddle
Back in the Saddle

by Sharon Green August 09, 2020

The days and months have been a blur and here it is August already! But at Ultimate Sailing we are chugging along: looking toward the future, having just sent our exciting 2021 Ultimate Sailing Calendar to press; and reflecting on good times past.

Read More

Opti-mania with Matias Capizzano
Opti-mania with Matias Capizzano

by Sharon Green July 05, 2020

A kid at heart, Matias Capizzano is an expert at capturing the action and enthusiasm of young sailors around the globe. As the official photographer of the Optimist World Championships, he has been contributing his incomparable images to the Ultimate Sailing Calendar for several years.

Read More

Fast Forward on Frisco Bay
Fast Forward on Frisco Bay

by Sharon Green June 01, 2020

We’re coming at you from San Francisco Bay this month, through the lens of Peter Lyons. What a thrill to focus on another of my talented colleagues and his exciting images featured on the June pages of the 2020 Ultimate Sailing Calendar.

Read More

Free screensaver

FREE - Receive a new image each month with our newsletter