It’s hard to ignore the cheerful, vibrant, billowing spinnakers on the June pages of the 2021 Ultimate Sailing Calendar! So few fleets fly colorful spinnakers anymore, it is a treat when I get to photograph an event like the Viper640 Worlds, featured here. Color adds such a tremendous dimension to an image: it draws your eye in and helps express the mood. And this was such a lively, joyful event to shoot!
I had just come back from covering the Transpac: big boats adventuring offshore. But after the Los Angeles start, there’s a long pause before I get to capture any more action, and then it’s just one boat at a time as they approach the finish off Honolulu. The Viper640 World Championship at Alamitos Bay Yacht Club (ABYC) was completely different! It was sporty and spiffy and non-stop, with happy, enthusiastic competitors of all ages.
Dozens of teams on supersonic 21-foot vessels blasting around the course in every direction, and the action happens so fast! I found myself wanting to be everywhere at once … but of course I couldn’t. It got really tricky as the fleet spread out, and we were constantly maneuvering to make sure I could get the shots without getting in the way!
The Viper640 is a great high performance sport boat that accelerates on a dime, and planes readily, making it a thrill to photograph. But it looks like a thrill to race, too! And the racing was so tight, the finishes were super exciting as well. Small boat racing is a big focus at ABYC, which has established an impressive record for hosting highly competitive sport boat events over the years.
Approaching it’s 100th anniversary, ABYC was the first yacht club in the United States to win the prestigious St. Petersburg Yacht Club Trophy: an award presented by US Sailing for excellence in race organization and management. Since then they’ve won it again, twice! The Club straddles the beach and bay where ‘classic Long Beach’ conditions guarantee that the seabreeze comes up in the afternoon like clockwork!
But not only is ABYC serious about racing, they’re serious about fun too. We enjoyed nightly parties, dancing and entertainment, and I was impressed and grateful that so many members and competitors thanked me for being there to capture their great experience.
Lately it seems I have been up to my ears in colorful kites, as I put the final touches on the 2022 Ultimate Sailing Calendar. Celebrating my 40th edition, our 2022 calendar is a retrospective of my favorite images from the last four decades, including a lot of iconic shots from the heyday of bright and flashy spinnakers and bloopers. I trust you’ll love this nostalgic and illuminating compilation of yacht racing around the world. Stand by for a sneak preview soon!
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