Behind the Scenes, August 2020
Published on August 10th, 2020
“It’s Tuesday? Honey, it’s Tuesday!” Who hasn’t laughed at, and associated with, that commercial? The days and months have been a blur and here it is August already! But at Ultimate Sailing we are chugging along: looking toward the future, having just sent our exciting 2021 Ultimate Sailing Calendar to press; and reflecting on good times past.
My crazy escapade leading up to this month’s August 2020 calendar shot of the MOD70 Argo during the Pineapple Cup is detailed in our January Blog – but to recap that thrilling and somewhat dicey day: it had been my dream to shoot this race, especially the spectacle when the boats collide with the Gulf Stream. So, I dashed out to Miami in advance of an assignment to shoot the Hempel World Sailing Championships.
But despite my vision and weeks of organizing logistics, a torrential downpour threatened to ruin my plans. I had been conferring with Team Argo’s primo navigator Anderson Reggio, who told me not to give up. He predicted the storm would clear in the nick of time and sure enough, it did, so we loaded up the chopper and took off.
Our helicopter was buffeted by strong gusts as we located and circled Argo, mindful of their 100-foot mast! With the breeze against the tide and Argo on a beam reach, they were absolutely blasting along (even with a reef in), digging bows into the huge seas and flinging spray into the open doors of the helicopter.
Argo’s crew was fully decked out in foulies as they wrestled the wild conditions. It was challenging and exhilarating at the same time, and I feel rewarded our efforts resulted in these ‘ultimate’ shots.
In March of this year, I was gearing up to photograph the St. Barths Bucket Regatta with absolutely divine plans to stay in the Caribbean for a whole month, shooting some of the local regattas then staying on for Les Voiles de St. Barth Richard Mille in mid-April. It was a dream-come-true schedule with assignments, flights, accommodations, photo boats, and basically everything I needed booked and ready to go.
We all know what happened next. Events started canceling one by one; tumbling like dominoes from the racing calendar. It didn’t matter where the regatta was: Caribbean, Europe, West Coast, East Coast … despite months of planning and coordination, 100-percent of my assignments were dropped in a snap.
My last photoshoot had been in January at the Melges IC37 Winter Series in Ft Lauderdale, FL. It had been a great event and I was lucky to get the infamous rainbow photo with Pacific Yankee. ‘Calendar spread for sure!
Meanwhile, we still had to complete the calendar edit. It was mostly done, but I had been hoping for some epic images from the Caribbean. I am fortunate to be have been able to augment my shots with submissions from some of my great colleagues and am so excited about the final mix for the 2021 Ultimate Sailing Calendar.
The ongoing health crisis has given me a chance to finally go through roughly 40 years of photo archives. Working with archives – light table I’ve been pulling files out of storage, setting up the light tables, and examining slides, including the colorful Big Boat Series and Kenwood Cup racing, the first-ever 12 Metre regatta, past America’s Cups, and so-on.
Nostalgia spurred my ‘Throw-back Thursday’ social media posts, which were met with such great reception that we used one of those images to develop a new puzzle! Earlier I had unearthed a sample puzzle I’d been sent years ago from a vendor, and we began carefully fitting the pieces together in our spare time. Our effort stretched into 10 days of sheer enjoyment and distraction.
Along the way we realized how many people were enjoying puzzles during the pandemic, so now we have a spectacular image from the 1988 St. Francis Big Boat Series in production as a puzzle: available in plenty of time for the Holidays!
Thankful for the technology of the day, I kept connected as much as I could! I did an ASA webinar with Peter Isler and a San Diego Yacht Club radio show with Ali Bell. I’ve been taking so many Zoom classes on various skills, my head is spinning!
To help others in need I pulled out my old sewing machine and joined the Santa Barbara Bucket Brigade, making dozens and dozens of face masks for this non-profit organization. My masks were donated to first responders, workers, and families in the local area, and I was glad to be able to pitch in somehow during this crisis.
And I have been cooking a lot! My crew will confirm I have always been interested in exploring other cuisines and I often experiment on them, friends, and family. Recently I mastered an amazing halibut dish, and a spatchcocked chicken with fennel and leeks wrapped in prosciutto, which tastes as good as it looks!
With so many restaurants closed, our local fishing fleet has been selling seafood directly from their boats and their bounty has helped sponsor some of our crab and oyster feasts too. An abundance of fresh produce from our garden, my friends’, and the Farmer’s Market has made its way to our table as well.
I’ve also been fortunate enough to be able to sail in Santa Barbara Yacht Club’s (SBYC) Wet Wednesday races with my partner Brad Brown. We race on a Harbor 20 which we can easily double-hand; maintaining their rules limiting participation to family or household members. It’s super-casual and super-fun! We start at the fuel dock and race out to the starting area, then one of the racers calls the start. What a riot! It’s been a great outlet at this time, being able to have fun on the water.
Back in the saddle again!
In July SBYC hosted our annual Fiesta Cup regatta, with a twist. The NOR stipulated face coverings and social distancing and recommended crews be comprised of co-habitants and ‘Quaran-teams.’ It was a huge success! Twenty boats came out to race and conditions were spectacular.
It was fantastic to finally get out on the water and shoot my first race of the season. Winds were 15 to 20 knots, with that massive Santa Barbara swell and lots of splash! Brad drove me around the course and although it was really rockin’ and rollin’, and I was shooting with the heavy 200-400mm lens, it was nothing short of spectacular.
Conditions were wild and the sailors put on a good show, hiking out, their faces masked. I got some excellent shots! I don’t know if anything is Ultimate Sailing Calendar-worthy, but it was an exciting day, and great to polish my rusty photography skills.
We can’t know what’s in store in the months ahead, but I hope that you and yours are staying healthy and positive at this time. And if puzzle-making is one of your hobbies, I hope you’ll check out my new 1000-piece “Flying Colors” puzzle at https://www.ultimatesailing.com/collections/calendars/products/flying-colors-puzzle. Hopefully, it’ll help you pass the time with joy, whether you share it with your family or tackle it solo.