Behind the Scenes, February 2021
Published on February 18th, 2021
How lucky was I to catch February’s photographers Pedro Martínez and Jesús Renedo in the midst of a busy shooting schedule in Auckland, where they are the official America’s Cup photographers for the American Magic team. Their imagery of Nacra 17 racers, the intensity and exhilaration, exemplifies what I look for when curating and producing the Ultimate Sailing Calendar.
This dynamic duo came together from opposite sides of the lens. Jesús has sailed for as long as he can remember, first on family holidays and later racing Optis, Vaurien dinghies, and 470s. That grew into a career as a professional skipper, so it was only natural when he combined his love of sailing with his favorite hobby, photography.
Pedro, on the other hand, was not a sailor – but the son of legendary yachting photographer Nico Martínez, therefore a built-in assistant and apprentice. Growing up, “there were lots of photos and nautical magazines all over the house,” Pedro revealed. “I started helping my dad edit his photos.”
Eventually the young Martinez graduated to shooting on his own, but he admitted, “The first time I went to the water all my photos were out of focus and I got seasick.” (Subsequently Pedro took sailing lessons, and has also become an expert on the water, both sailing and kite surfing.)
As they tell it, Pedro and Jesús were working independently but often at the same regattas, so they became friends. Lined up to cover an event where unfortunately photography got cut due to budget, they decided to go and shoot anyway, as a team of freelancers. Sailing Energy was founded!
“To look more professional, we printed some t-shirts with the brand on them,” Pedro said, adding that even more importantly, Jesús began lining up clients, like the New Zealand Sailing Team.
Working on a large Olympic event in their hometown of Mallorca, they realized one photographer couldn’t cover such a big regatta – with 10 classes sailing on four or five different courses – and deliver images as fast as current social media demands.
Jesús explained, “For us that means every sailor’s image has to be tagged with meta data, so they can be easily searchable in a photo library by any journalist. So, we built a team, hired an editor, and created a complex workflow. Shooting multiple racecourses, sending live photos, tagging every sailor, and delivering the images fast.”
I’m exhausted just thinking about it! But their formula has proven to be a big success, and it was the start of a partnership that has grown to encompass a vast array of clients and events including the World Cup Series, Vendee Globe, Volvo Ocean Race, GC32 tour, and the Olympic Games and pre-events.
It was in Enoshima, Japan that Jesús and Pedro captured the images that leap off the February 2021 pages of the Ultimate Sailing Calendar.
“We were at the windward mark of the Nacra 17 racecourse in Enoshima during the World Cup series, just after the Olympic Test Event,” Jesús described. “It was a breezy northeasterly 20 to 25 knots, which means huge rolling waves over there.
“We were onboard a RIB which was quite big, and the driver was struggling to keep the bow into the wind, so we didn’t drift too close to the mark. That’s a very risky place for Nacras, as they have to bear away … but it is also a photographer’s dream: to witness top pro sailors at the most difficult spot of the racecourse.
“The spray from the bow as it crashed into the waves was raining all over our heads and equipment, which made it really difficult. To protect our gear – Canon 1dx body and 500mm F/4 prime lens – we used AquaTech covers, and shot at a high shutter speed, as we were bouncing up and down a lot. Thanks to the driver’s skills we stayed on the safe side at a safe distance.”
And they got the shots! Adrenaline-charged and breathtaking – these images transport you right onto the racecourse and capture the thrill and bronco-busting action of these foiling Nacra 17 racers. “I like to focus on the sailors and their expressions, but also the angles of the boats and spars, and the lighting,” said Pedro – adding that, as for conditions, he prefers, “the wilder, the better!”
Jesús and Pedro had been in Auckland, hired by American Magic to photograph the 36th Americas Cup. Working for American Magic, they concurred, is “a dream come true,” and Pedro exclaimed, “I still can’t believe I’ve made it here!”
I can’t wait to see what ‘magic’ they create in their time down under! To check out their America’s Cup and other images, click on the Galleries tab at www.sailingenergy.com.