Behind the Scenes, August 2019

Published on August 1st, 2019

We are fans of the wall calendar, and the start of each month welcomes new imagery from our J/Boats, Onne van der Wal, and Sharon Green calendars. For August 2019, Sharon recruited elite photographer Andrea Francolini who shares the behind-the-scenes story from his contribution for the 2019 Ultimate Sailing Calendar.

Following the SuperFoiler Grand Prix in Australia was a steep learning curve for everyone. Personally, I had never photographed anything that foils but I knew my reflexes had to be switched. Anything could happen and if it did it would happen quickly.

These triplehanded  flying machines were racing in Busselton, Western Australia, a perfect setting even though the event almost did not take place due to lack of wind. Eventually, the wind picked up, offering a constant 15-18 knots in the late afternoon which made for a perfect downwind leg and great light.

Busselton is known for its very long jetty where the public gathered to see the race. Boats would gybe literally feet before the pier thus giving a thrill to all the spectators. This was the perfect spot for me to position while on the media boat.

Andrea Francolini

I was on what we call a tinny in Australia. Basically a floating tin bathtub. Nothing fancy, nothing fast but at least it was stable. The main issue I had was that if we positioned ourselves on the lay line with boats on one side and the jetty on the other we had no escape route in case something went wrong…

The first boat flew past but gybed with plenty of room between us and them. So did the second but then came the third boat which waited till the last minute to gybe and that was a close call for us.

I quickly shot the image thinking, ‘this is a bit too close for comfort’ and then told my driver we needed to get out of there. He smiled and said, “No worries mate, we’ll be alright. We can go under the jetty. If they follow us then keep shooting because you’ll get a bloody good pic.”

I still wonder if he used the word ‘bloody’ as a slang or literally. Anyway all good.

But when ‘Tech 2’ became the first boat to foil all the way, even the crew on my support boat remarked, “This is going to end in tears, they are going too fast.” At that point, I picked up my lens expecting anything to happen, and just when my muscles started burning and hoped for me to put down my 500mm lens, the boat did something a bit strange and then was airborne.

The whole sequence was caught while our driver floored it towards the vessel in support. No one got hurt. Scared, yes, but not hurt.

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