VIDEO: Sexy Men Sail Etchells

Published on June 11th, 2015

Using a fleet of Etchells, the Ralph Lauren fragrance POLO BLUE is promoted through a film directed by Bruce Weber and starring World of Polo ambassador, Nacho Figueras. “POLO BLUE reminds me of sitting by the ocean, staring at a clear, blue sky,” said Lauren. Video published June 1, 2015.

Magnus Liljedahl, gold medalist at the 2000 Sydney Olympics in the star class with Mark Reynolds, provides background on the production of this commercial:

2015-06-23_15-55-57Some of you may have seen the latest Ralph Lauren TV commercial featuring Etchells racing and wondered, what was that? Often times when sailors watch sailing in movies and commercials, it looks faked and unrealistic…. but not this one! Here are the details behind the commercial in a story I call ‘MAN VS. SEA production.

The production company, Little Bear, Inc. moved into the US Sailing Center in Miami on Monday, October 27th. My involvement was to find five Etchells plus crew and to coordinate the sailing on Biscayne Bay.

Casting for about 20+ local sailors took place the following day. Pay-scale seemed to be a common word within in this industry, because I was often reminded that the people deciding who would get the call-back were above my pay-scale.

It was a bit frustrating to stand by and watch how the “beefy “ crew needed on an Etchells on a windy day fell victims for the more slender type awesome looking model guy with no prior experience. At one point, higher powers wanted to replace all crew except the skippers, but common sense prevailed. It was cool that Bradley Johnson, a double leg amputee and a Paralympic Sailor, made the cast.

Four Etchells were divided into a Blue Team, White Team, Yellow Team and a Red Team, with the fifth boat as our spare equipment and used for 1-day for shooting at the dock. The sailors were wearing polo shirts with their team colors and white shorts. The Blue Team was the designated “Hero” boat which got the nice POLO 67 logo on either side of the bow, on the stern, on the nice new blue spinnaker and on the brand new main sail.

The shoot was scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, but Coral Reef Yacht Club (CRYC) had their Annual Regatta on Sunday, and the Art Director used the opportunity to preview the Etchells racing. In the ‘nothing goes smoothly’ department, the helicopter he ordered was temporarily sidetracked when the airspace was shut down for the arrival of Vice President Joe Biden onboard Air Force 2.

As the main event drew closer, our first cold front of the year arrived. The weather forecast for Monday called for East Northeast winds 15 to 20 Knots and the Bay waters choppy. On Tuesday, the upper range increased to 25 knots. In my mind, I saw our real enemy as light air. The Etchells are good for 30 knots and the sailors and the equipment were capable to handle it.

Monday arrived and Call Time for me was 6AM. The four Etchells being used are all based at the CRYC and since that the club is closed on Mondays, the film crew had a unique opportunity to move in. After lots of video recording and picture taking, we went sailing. I was on one of camera boats with the Art Director and the 1st Assistant AD along with several other Cameramen, Assistants and the Behind the Scenes Photographer.

Other than the five Etchells that we accumulated, the flotilla of boats and other equipment being used was impressive. There were a couple of Police boats and other law enforcement vessels, Fire and Rescue, large and small tow-boats, a large pontoon boat carrying a Hollywood crane for nice sweeping shots, a couple of R.I.B.s, a couple of hard bottom center councils, a jet-ski, a helicopter plus all state-of-the-art cameras and audio equipment.

My job was to communicate with the sailors and have them line their boats up to suit the needs of the photographers. First we had a decent length downwind leg. It was an amazing sight! Then we sailed upwind for a while, then tacking and heading in to shallow and smoother waters. We continued into the Dinner Key Marina and did some shots off of the dock at the Spoil Island. Then back out to the Municipal Anchorage. A stunt man, Kevin Morgan, replaced Argentine polo player/model Nacho Figueras for a scene where Nacho was to dive off the Etchells.

The lunch-breaks will not soon be forgotten, mmmm delicious! We went back out sailing in the afternoon. The radio communication with the Etchells was difficult in the 20-knot breeze and Walkie-Talkies getting wet. There was no rehearsal or set script. Instead, I was instructed on the way out what the needs of the photographers were.

Pete Zuccarini, who lives on Key Biscayne, is famous for his under-water photography. He is responsible for the footage of an impressively long list of feature films such as all four “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies and “All Is Lost”. Pete had been filming starts, gate-roundings and finishes during the CRYC Annual Regatta and been very pleased with his camera angles. To have him say Thank You, meant a lot to me.

Pete wanted the boats to sail by him closely, both upwind and downwind. We set two markers about 1/2 mile apart. The ideas were to have a long port tack and a much shorter starboard tack to the windward mark. This way the sailors would sail a bit higher than a dead downwind coming back, which in my mind would be the fastest and most awesome point of sail.

The sailors were instructed to steer well below the leeward mark and be very close to one-and-other as they passed the buoy. The legs had to be long enough where Pete could be picked out of the water and dropped at the weather mark before the boats arrived.

The sailors were instructed to sail well past the weather mark, so that they could set their spinnakers and blow by the weather buoy in a tight formation. Again, the leg had to be long enough to move Pete to the leeward make in time for the boats to swish by there. The photo helicopter hovered above the entire time, sometimes so low that he seemed to pass between boats at mast height. We sailed about four laps and then returned to port. Unbelievable!

I was fuelled by the day but in the end also spent by it. We had a nice gathering with some of the production staff at Monty’s, next door and then a good night’s sleep.

After another amazing breakfast at the tent, most of the production team headed out to Key Biscayne to shoot some scenes. I followed one of Etchells out for sound recording, but it didn’t take very long. We then rigged GoPro Cameras on two of the Etchells and proceeded out for some action shots. We staged some mark roundings both to windward and leeward. The batteries would eventually run out and we returned to port.

The Grand Finale took place at the floating dock at CRYC It was a scene where the entire victorious Blue Team popped Champagne bottles, sprayed one-and-other and drank out of a Silver Cup. An example of the win-win for all involved was that youth sailor Max Agnese, a two-time Orange Bowl Champion, was discovered by the commercial director and famous fashion photographer, Bruce Weber. He posed for the cameras for a while prior to the Silver Cup scene. Nice!

The wrap party at the Viceroy on Brickell was a lot of fun. But, what happens in Miami, stays in Miami.

Recognition to the Etchells owners for making their boats available. In no particular order, Buddy Cribbs, Jonah Pruitt III, Jeff Dever, Andrew Cumming and PJ Keenan. Thank Bill Mauk, Sharon Bivans and Gary Gilbert for offering boats as well.

As for the list of sailors, they were Mark Mendelblatt, Jonah Pruitt, Brian Kamilar, Jeff Dever, Max Agnese, Ian Robinson, Omari Scott, Bradley Johnson, Gary Gilbert, Pat Downey and David Forrester.

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