There was a time people used to say, ‘Don’t trust anyone over 30!’ Well you can trust this: the Melges 24 turns 30 in 2023 and is here to stay! The ease and excitement of this thrilling sportboat has endured as a leading craft for high-performance yet fun one-design racing.
The April images in the 2023 Ultimate Sailing Calendar depict just that! History notes this diminutive 24-foot lightweight was spurred by the America’s Cup. After America3’s win in 1992 sailors were ready for the high-tech, high-performance developments to trickle-down to our level. With that in mind, Buddy Melges teamed up with designers John Reichel and Jim Pugh to translate these engineering, design and material advancements into the sporty and affordable Melges 24.
“The Melges 24 was a global phenomenon when it was introduced: it was so leading edge at the time!” says Sharon Green. “And I have been photographing them ever since: from the first big event in San Francisco, to the Southernmost Regatta featured here in April 2023.”
The Southernmost Regatta – sort of a spin-off from the popular Key West Race Week – takes place in the waters just south of beautiful Key West. “The weather was fantastic, starting out with a few fresh-to-frightening days, but lightening up as the week went on,” Sharon explains. That span of conditions tested the crews who came from all across the US and Canada, and even included teams from Italy, Great Britain and Germany!
This fabulous fleet of global talent was due, in part, to the Melges 24 World Championship regatta which would take place in a few months in Ft Lauderdale. ‘What better place to practice than Key West!
“Photographing a one-design fleet, even with a lot of white boats and white sails, is exciting because of the close racing,” says Sharon. “For sportboats such as the Melges 24, it’s just exhilarating to wait on the layline after they do a bear-away set … I usually position the photo boat well past the set point and capture the racers as they stack up, trying to find their lane, and also as they line up with full spinnakers, and plane down the course.”
That positioning is tricky, especially with so many boats in the class. “We were in an agile rib with Walter Cooper driving, so in excellent hands. At one point we set up right in front of the fleet so they were coming directly at us, then slowly – without a wake –
slid off to weather, to capture the fleet as they sailed by and away. A stunning angle, but kind of dicey if you don’t have the perfect driver and boat,” adds Sharon.
“Don’t try this at home!” she laughs.
Both images in the 2023 April pages of the Ultimate Sailing Calendar were shot with the mirrorless Canon EOS R5 at 1/3200, F8, ISO 400; Lens RF 100-500 4.5-7.1L IS. “The mirrorless digital cameras have quickly become some of my favorites, for their light weight and accuracy. It certainly makes traveling and handling equipment on the water so much more of a breeze!”
WHERE IN THE WORLD IS SHARON GREEN?
Sharon was recently spotted at Los Angeles Yacht Club, photographing the Port of Los Angeles Harbor Cup Regatta! She came as a special guest photographer with one particular subject in her crosshairs: niece Rachel Green, racing with the Queen’s University Team from Kingston, Ontario Canada. “Go Gaels!”
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!