In Pursuit of the Perfect Shot

Published on January 19th, 2016

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt
Riding shotgun alongside professional photographer Sharon Green provides an up close view of Key West Race Week racing … just be sure to hold on. With several classes on each course, capturing the perfect shot meant covering some ground. Thankfully, our center-console 37-foot Sea Hunter, with twin Yamaha 350s, had no trouble taking Sharon where she needed to be. Just be sure to hold on.

With a race course hosting Mini Maxi 72s, TP52s, and J/111s, traveling from the leeward mark to the upwind turn meant going 55 knots upwind into a 20 knot breeze. The sailors might have been wearing shorts, but we had full gear on to endure the spray and wind chill. It came as some relief when we moved to the course with the C&C30s, J/70s, and Melges 24s. Our need for speed became less dramatic.

Sharon’s frenetic pursuit of the perfect shot makes it hard to race watch, but gives an epic position to boat watch. Often following mere feet from our subject, we would get the surprised look from the helm as they glanced over to see who was riding their leeward quarter wake. The bigger boats were more tolerant of us, and their path proved to be more predictable. As for the smaller boats, let’s just say I ducked for cover when we got a bit too close.

Sharon is a regular at the event because it is just too hard to stay away. “Key West is very consistent, and when it is good, it is fabulous. We have already gotten that ‘fresh-to-frightening’ condition that makes an excellent photo. It’s been stormy, and with that has come great cloud formations as a backdrop. And when the sun comes out, the color of the water here is amazing.”

While the racers might like an effortless chop with winds in the teens, Sharon wants it to be much messier. “The windier the better, and if we can get the wind direction from the southeast, then we can get some big, boat-launching waves. We want spray, we want action. Lumpy is good. This wind direction also works well with the sun as the boats are well lit when they get to the weather mark.”

Competitors at Key West Racing Week often find themselves in Sharon’s annual Ultimate Sailing calendar, as they did in the 2016 edition. No doubt there will be a lucky team at Key West this week that is highlighted next year among the most extreme, exciting, and epic yacht racing images from around the world.

SANDB

Sharon (left) and Betsy Crowfoot smiling at 55 knots.

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Getting close to the J/70 fleet.

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