Following the SuperFoiler series in Australia was a steep learning curve for everyone. Personally, I had never photographed anything that foils but I knew my reflexes has to be switched. Anything could happen and if it did it would happen quickly.
The SuperFoiler series was in Busselton, Western Australia was in a perfect setting even though the event almost did not take place due to lack of wind.
Eventually, the wind picked up. A constant 15-18 knots in the late afternoon made for perfect downwind leg and great light. Busselton is known for its very long jetty where the public gathered to see the race. Boats would gybe literally feet before the pier thus giving a thrill to all the spectators. This was the perfect spot for me to position while on the media boat.
I was on what we call a tinny in Australia. Basically a floating tin bathtub. Nothing fancy, nothing fast but at least it was stable. The main issue I had was that if we positioned ourselves on the lay line with boats on one side and the jetty on the other we had no escape route in case something went wrong… The first boat flew past but gybed with plenty of room between us and them. So did the second….Then came the third boat which waited till the last minute to gybe and that was a close call for us. I quickly shot the image thinking ‘this is a bit too close for comfort’ and then told my driver we needed to get out of there. He smiled and said ‘no worries mate, we’ll be alright. We can go under the jetty. If they follow us then keep shooting because you’ll get a bloody good pic’
I still wonder if he used the word ‘bloody’ as a slang or literally….Anyway all good. We did not have to dart under the jetty and I got the shot.
Day 1 of the first race of the series was no exception. On the second downwind leg ‘Tech 2’ was the first boat to foil all the way. Even the crew on my support boat said ‘this is going to end in tears, they are going too fast’. At that stage, I picked up my lens expecting anything to happen. Just when my muscles started burning and hoped for me to put down my 500mm lens the boat did something a bit strange and then was airborne.
The whole sequence was caught while our driver floored it towards the vessel in support. No one got hurt. Scared, yes, but not hurt.
~ Andrea Francolini
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