As exciting and dynamic as it was to shoot the America’s Cup and those crazy, super-sonic catamarans, my recent trip to the east coast to photograph the inaugural J Class World Championship was just as thrilling. It’s ironic, because the Js started out as America’s Cup boats - 80 years ago! My, how things have changed!
These yachts are all grace and majesty, and a bit intimidating to shoot. Especially with such challenging conditions: fickle winds and flat water – which can be good for the racers, but bad for photos.
The regatta was plagued with light air, causing dock holds and long postponements, waiting for the sea breeze to fill in. One day they didn’t start racing until late late afternoon! That is frustrating and discouraging, all that lost momentum, and lost time and money too; trying to time the aerials, with a helicopter sitting on the pad and meter ticking. All when I could be processing images and editing and updating my galleries.
And so many other photographers from all over the world were there to shoot the event. It’s always fun working alongside so many of my wonderful colleagues, but I was really forced to push my limits and try to do something different to stand out. I was proud to hear the compliments of some of my most esteemed peers, in the media center each night.
I pressed for a spot to sail onboard the recently launched J Class Yacht SVEA with and all-star crew. After getting my matching crew issue I worked my way on deck around the boat, forward and aft to capture the crew in action. Moments after we were given the safety instructions and to keep an eye out for man overboards, the bowman went overboard in a starting sequence. These boats do not have any lifelines so the bowmen often go overboard. He was ok and picked-up by a support rib and plopped back on the boat.
In the end the event was worth it! The images I captured were truly unparalleled – in part because of the power and grandeur of the boats, in Bristol condition; but in part too because of their impressive spic ‘n span crews, the incredible lighting and backdrop.
Ultimate Sailing Newsletter!
Sign up Now for The Ultimate Sailing Newsletter to enjoy exclusive notifications of events and more.