Behind the Scenes, January 2020
Published on January 5th, 2020
What a way to start a new decade! January 2020 opens up with a splash, as the V70 Wizard dashes and crashes across the Gulf Stream in this bracing image!
This is one of my ‘new’ favorite and most thrilling images; with an equally thrilling ‘How-did-you-ever-capture-that?’ tale. Despite wild odds, I willed this shot into being: clearly my ‘vision’ for 2020!
Also, I am so proud to announce this photo of Wizard won Silver in the recent Mirabaud Yacht Racing Image competition. What the America’s Cup is to sailors, the Mirabaud is to professional photographers; singling out “photography which best represents the essence and excitement of the sport.”
I am so honored to have been recognized as 2019’s second-place winner, vying against 132 of my esteemed colleagues in this prestigious contest. Thank you to the organization and judges, and to all who voted for me in the Public Award.
But enough about that: let’s talk about this shot!
I had just returned from a speaking engagement at Coral Reef Yacht Club in Miami, rushing back to California to present at Newport Harbor Yacht Club (if you’d like to know more about my awesome Ultimate Sailing multi-media presentations, just ask!).
Back home in Santa Barbara, I was prepping to shoot the Hempel World Cup Series Miami, an Olympic Class regatta, on Biscayne Bay. But I also had my eye on getting the 811nm Pineapple Cup start which was to begin a day before the championships and asked Anderson Reggio, the navigator for the MOD70 Argo, for his expert opinion on the prospective conditions.
To anyone who doesn’t know Anderson: he is more than simply “a navigator.” He is a master of all trades, from weather forecasting and onboard navigation, to performance analytics and race management (which is in his blood, from his pro-PRO father Peter ‘Luigi’ Reggio). I could not have got this shot without his knowledge and cooperation.
I had an intuition about trying to get this image. In nearly 60 years of the Pineapple Cup, no one had ventured out to capture the spectacle of when the big race boats plow into the Gulf Stream en route to Jamaica. I was nearly possessed, consulting with Anderson daily, and juggling logistics.
But despite a month of hoping and planning and preparation, at the last minute it looked like it wouldn’t happen. Anderson advised an approaching storm front threatened to spoil my plans. Clearly, I have no control of the weather gods!
I returned to Miami anyway, where there was a torrential deluge all day and night. Early the next morning, emails were flooding in like the rain, with clients saying, “Gee Sharon, we don’t think this is going to work out.” But Anderson stood firm telling me, “It will clear by 11:00am and all will be good: windy with huge seas, partly cloudy.”
Amazingly, the rain cleared as predicted and we took off at 1:40pm for the 2:00pm start. It had been a very cold northerly front that rolled through, turning Florida into an ice pop. It was freezing in the helicopter, and we flew for hours, with my friend and wingman Craig Leweck, Editor of Scuttlebutt, rolling video. Kudos to Craig, who endured hours in the frigid conditions, spinning and whirling around the boats on the course.
I took the whole back seat of the Bell 407 helicopter, so I could slide from side to side to shoot bow-on, then the stern, and back again … the seas were enormous and spray was flinging into the helicopter. The storm had left behind humongous seas and billowy clouds that produced this incredible light!
Hats off to my extremely skilled pilot, flying offshore in those conditions: it was super-risky and gutsy, but such an adrenaline rush!
Wizard ended up as the first-to-finish monohull at 3:03:52:13, while Anderson navigated Argo to victory in the multihull division, smashing the previous record by more than 10 hours and finishing in 2:00:07:44
Thank you Anderson Reggio, Team Argo, and Team Wizard for giving me the opportunity to document the indelible moments of yacht racing. It is for you and because of you that Ultimate Sailing exists. And I ended up with a one-of-a-kind, epic day, with the shot to prove it: Wizard lost in frothy waves as she plows through the Gulf Stream on their race to Montego Bay. What a shot to kick off 2020!