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. I am thrilled to be featuring this gifted and plucky colleague in our July 2020 spotlight! Matias lives in Mar del Plata, Argentina: a vibrant resort city set along miles of white sandy beaches on the Atlantic coast, sort of ‘around the corner’ from Buenos Aires (five hours away): an ideal spot for all kinds of water sports. There, as a young sailor, Matias competed in Optis and later J/24s; participating in match racing, PanAm Games, world, and area championships. He also worked as an Opti coach and it’s this deep affinity with the boat and athletes that would help him segue into a successful photography career.
In his 20s Matias’ career brought him to Buenos Aires to work as an Industrial Designer, but eventually, he surrendered to his passion for sailing and photography and quit that job, returning to Mar del Plata to become a full-time yachting photographer. Although he declares he has no formal training, his eye for capturing images is clearly enriched by his background in design and aesthetics, and his penchant for the sea.
Matias’ images document the vigor, excitement, and intensity of Opti racing. Although the craft may be small, and the sailors smaller, there is nothing diminutive about their emotion and drive. He also enjoys sharing what he shoots with the parents and supporters ashore, saying sailboat racing in the middle of the ocean “is not an easy sport for spectators!”
He calls Opti racing his favorite venue, adding, “I like to show the expressions, the skill and the effort of the racers,” which is more palpable in dinghy and small boat competition, than larger sailboat classes. In fact, Matias admits at times he can’t help but offer tips and encouragement to the racers while he’s out there — and he is known to stay out on the course until the last competitors straggle. His affinity and connection with the sailors is evident in his work and sets his images apart.
In creating the shots for the July pages in the 2020 Ultimate Sailing Calendar, Matias explains, “The Optimist Worlds is a long event. The first days I have to capture shots of all the sailors, but after that, I have more liberty to play.”
As is often the case when photographing a regatta, Matias sits alone in a small inflatable boat, which he holds in position “with one foot keeping the RIB in reverse, while I am shooting.” The windy days, he says, are exceptionally hard, with the low freeboard and crashing waves punishing to both him and his cameras; making protective gear for his equipment is a must. But it’s this platform that gives him such a unique perspective.
“I like to jump into the water to do some shots too. But I need to keep busy there shooting, otherwise, I start to think that sharks are coming and I don't like them!” July’s feature shot was done just minutes before the start of the Opti Worlds in Cyprus, in the Eastern Mediterranean. As he describes, “I jumped in the water and swam around the sailors. It's very funny to interact with the kids; I feel like a kid when I do that, too.”
“Some of the sailors are surprised by me: they don’t expect to find someone swimming out there!” ‘No less a 47-year-old photographer, with camera gear! But the looks and camera angles he gets are out-of-this-world. Although the days can be long, grueling, and wet, Matias says he relishes the opportunities he’s had to make friends around the world and visit incredible destinations. Alas lately, he points out, most of his assignments and yachting events have been canceled. In the meantime, he is enjoying time at home with his family, including daughters Josefina, 14 and Julia, 11: both Opti sailors of course! And he’s using the time to create personalized photo books for sailing clients and friends, in addition to household renovations.
Matias is kind enough to add, “For many years I admired the Ultimate Sailing Calendar and now I am so grateful and proud to be included in it, with Sharon and many other great photographers!” And we are grateful too – to have your unique outlook and highlight our up-and-coming sailors in our pages!!
See Matias’ work in the Ultimate Sailing Calendar, and at www.capizzano.com.
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