You’ve probably noticed by now that traditionally, when curating the calendar, I focus on images that prominently feature the color green in March. Not just because of St. Patrick’s Day, but also my family. While Kermit the Frog sings “It’s not easy being green” I feel blessed to be the daughter of Sandy and Don Green – victor of the 1978 Canada Cup – and to have had entrée to the exciting world of yacht racing.
‘The Green Machine’ is what they called Illbruck Challenge, featured in March in the 2022 Ultimate Sailing Calendar. Designed by Farr and built by the Illbruck company, it went on to win the 2001-2002 Volvo round-the-world race!
This photo though was taken earlier, on a practice session off the west coast of Australia. ‘No fair-weather sailors here! Even though it was blowing 30 knots – ESPECIALLY because it was blowing 30 knots – they ventured out to train and prepare for the brutal conditions they’d face in this grueling 45,000nm circumnavigation.
I’d traveled to Western Australia from California with my two toddlers in tow but freed myself up for the afternoon when I knew ‘The Fremantle Doctor’ would be blowing. This is what they call the strapping breeze that pipes up in Freo during the summer afternoons.
I hired a helicopter and we took off from a landing strip right along the beach!
Everything had been orchestrated beforehand: we were on the hunt for some publicity shots. Once we rendezvoused with the boat I had them sail upwind 20 minutes on each tack and then downwind on both gybes. It was incredible to see them bashing to weather and then blasting downwind, challenging ‘The Doctor’ head on! I still remember how vivid the colors were that day, with the neon green hull and little chartreuse men on deck, contrasting with the deep blue sea.
The vertical image is another high-caliber event: the America’s Cup. These two campaigns couldn’t be more diametrically opposed, as far as yacht and sail design and construction, the conditions the boats would be sailed in, number of crew, accommodations (or lack of), venue and spectators – seeing most of the Volvo Race (now simply called ‘The Ocean Race’) was raced across the most remote oceans on the planet. But the colors and drama made them an obvious pairing to me, for the 2022 Ultimate Sailing Calendar.
Here we have a dramatic silhouette of a skilled and daring crew member, Curtis Blewett ascending the 100-foot mast of AmericaOne set against the lime green kite. This campaign was particularly special to me as I was the official photographer for the St. Francis Yacht Club challenge for the 2000 America’s Cup. The head of the campaign was Paul Cayard, who was named Executive Director of U.S. Olympic Sailing last year.
AmericaOne’s signature was this lime green color, featured in the spinnakers and graphics, which made it super unique and photogenic. When conditions were really epic they’d have me take images that could be blown up for promotional purposes. Hewlett Packard was a sponsor and they transformed my images into everything from posters to murals to postage stamps.
These images were shot on Fuji Velvia film, as digital was just coming on stream. The early digital cameras were very slow and buffered after a few frames, plus the file sizes were really small.
It was also a transitional period between traditional (film) slide shows and digital data projection. I absolutely loved creating slide presentations synced to sound for the team and sponsors. We always had music blasting on the base and I would ask the crew and shore team for their favorite songs, so I could incorporate them into the shows. I remember driving to the neighboring town of Newmarket many times, where the production company digitized the slides and and would synchronize everything to music ... we’d spend the whole night working, getting ready for presentations. The slide shows were always grand, in particular one we produced for a Christmas party at the Auckland War Memorial Museum.
These were exciting days! It was truly a thrill to be part of this talented team and many of our friendships endure to this day. We were gunning for the Louis Vuitton Cup, and the privilege to race Team New Zealand in the America’s Cup, when we lost a sudden death match to the Italian team, Prada. It was so close we could taste it, and the team was gutted at the loss. It would be the first time in the history of the America’s Cup that there would be no American challenger or defender.
Both of these images were shot in Australasia around the turn of the 21st century and represent the latest and greatest of that era. If you flip back to our January and February 2022 pages and compare, you’ll see the dramatic changes that took place in yachting over just two decades.
Don’t you just love the new Olympic Class iQFOiL windsurfer? This super-sonic fleet featured in the February pages of the 2024 Ultimate Sailing Calendar will makes its Olympic debut at the 2024 Games: bringing a whole new level of excitement as they fly around the racecourse!
The December 2023 calendar images feature one of Sharon Green’s favorite regattas, the St. Francis Yacht Club Big Boat series sponsored by Rolex. Since Sharon arrived on the scene in 1983 she has been at nearly every running of this wet and wild event, which is now approaching its 60th year!