Harken Derm

Some Serious Ultimate Sailing

Published on January 30th, 2019

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt
While words carry the story of our sport, imagery brings it to life. But when the logistics to get the shot go beyond the usual, a lot has to come together for it to happen. Such was the case for my ride along with photographer Sharon Green.

The staggered start of the 34th Pineapple Cup – Montego Bay Race had the speedier boats setting up on January 28th to begin the 811 nm dash from Miami to Jamaica, and while the forecast looked promising for the previous few days, when you’re having to secure a helicopter for serious money, it needs to be worth the effort.

Sharon was in Miami to chase the ten Olympic events at the World Cup Series, but with nearly all the offshore fleet willing to support the mission, Sharon coordinated with HMC Helicopter Services to secure their Bell Long Ranger to capture the occasion.

I got recruited to help, and off we went, going 90 mph over mansions and mangroves to arrive within minutes of the start. And just as we had hoped, the conditions were legitimately ‘fresh to frightening’.

With winds into the 20 knot range, the reaching angle sent the fleet off through 10-foot seas that looked intimidating from 200 feet. But we didn’t stay that high, as our pilot was as eager to watch the action as Sharon was to capture it. These two weren’t screwing around.

I can only imagine the view from the MOD 70, fully leaping through the seas, looking at a heli about two boat lengths in front of them, crabby at an angle to give Sharon the shot, hovering at mast height. The helm was looking straight into our cockpit.

After following the fleet for 20 miles offshore, capturing every angle for each of the boats, it was time to call it. With the doors removed for shooting, we were frozen and exhausted, but the effort was worth it. Our sport can be fickle, but not on this day. This day was some serious ultimate sailing.

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