In the interest of fairness

Published on October 20th, 2021

Scuttlebutt is a long time promoter of sailing photographers, and always eager to share photo galleries that celebrate the sport, so it was not too hard to get behind the Mirabaud Yacht Racing Image contest.

Held annually since 2009, it is the premiere international contest to recognize the very best yacht racing image taken during the year, and that which best represents the essence and excitement of yacht racing as a sport. It has grown to become a promotional platform for photographers and to help present sailing to a wider audience.

To level the playing field and highlight the very skilled shooters, the rules require that entries occur during competition. It is a smart condition as a lesser photographer can stage an image by selecting the right wind, lighting, and angle. Much harder to do during battle.

So it was of some surprise when many of the images in the 2021 contest, such as the one above by Pierrick Contin, did not occur during competition. All attempts to seek clarity from the contest administration have not received comment, which tends to happen when the truth is an awkward topic.

Odds are the jury was not aware, when they advanced the best 80 entries to the next stage, that over 20% of the images did not meet the rules. One can only hope that jurists Jo Aleh (NZL), Gilles Martin-Raget (FRA), Glenn Ashby (AUS), Nicolas Mirabaud (SUI), and Anne-Cécile Turner (FRA) will now be asking questions.

For those photographers that did follow the rules, such as Stephen Cloutier, Daniel Forster, Sharon Green, Rod Harris, James Robinson Taylor, and Paul Todd, Scuttlebutt wishes them luck for advancing to the top 20 on November 10.

While Scuttlebutt sticks its neck out in the interest of fairness, many of our media brethren are unlikely to do the same, beholden to sponsor agreements which require them to stay on script. Maybe this incident will prove to be a bridge too far… standing by.


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