Behind the Scenes, February 2022
Published on February 15th, 2022
Funk, punk, Spandex and big hair … the Eighties were a colorful era! These fun, lively images, featured on our February 2022 pages of the Ultimate Sailing Calendar, remind me what a remarkable decade this was: both on-the-water and off!
In 1983 I had just launched my first edition of the Ultimate Sailing Calendar. I’d been shooting professionally for about four years – after a fantastic broach sequence I captured during the Admiral’s Cup made the pages of Yachting Magazine: my big break!
I was young (just in my 20s!) and energetic; photographing every event I possibly could in between part-time jobs. But after a few years, I was uncertain of what my future held. I loved what I was doing but didn’t want to be a freelancer forever. My Dad had been a successful entrepreneur and instilled that ethos in me. I wanted to build a business!
Taking some time off, I went skiing in Utah in search of direction; skiing all day, delving into ideas with friends in the evenings. One day while on the lift one of my cohorts suggested I produce a coffee table book, but at the time I didn’t have enough material for a whole book. However I DID have at least a dozen really good shots …
‘What about a calendar?’ I literally skied to the bottom of the hill, pulled out the yellow pages and randomly started dialing printers. The Ultimate Sailing Calendar was born! When my first edition was printed I drove throughout the Midwest and East Coast, hitting every shipyard, chandlery, marine store and loft: selling calendars door to door out of the trunk of my car. No doubt with a ‘big’ 80’s hairdo!
February’s featured image was taken at the 1988 Kenwood Cup during an interesting takedown by the crew of the Reichel Pugh 48 Bladerunner. I remember how difficult it was, bashing around in a big cabin cruiser off Oahu, trying to capture these shots.
Quite different from the Big Boat Series in San Francisco where my photo boat was a small Boston Whaler. With the crazy wind and tides on the Bay, it seems I returned to the dock more drenched than the competitors, in that regatta!
Trivia note: this great looking yacht was owned by the actress Vicki Lawrence – best known as “Mama” in the Carol Burnett Show. She is both a talented performer and sailor.
I love this pairing of images of two different boats taken years apart and on different slices of the Pacific. My goal was to layout images that complement each other with similar colors, but different compositions. Despite the differences in latitude, in both images you can feel the incredible choreography of the helmsman and crew as they perfectly time the trajectory around the mark, and hustle their sails up and down.
It was truly challenging to photograph racing in those days, with that generation of Kodachrome 64 film. The ISO of 64 meant it was a super-slow saturated film with little grain. To get the shutter speed I needed to capture the action, the aperture had to be wide open. And this was when everything was manual. Manual focus, manual exposure and no stabilization in the camera. Plus, Kodachrome was really only good on sunny days.
I feel fortunate to have captured true ‘snapshots’ of a vibrant era of yacht racing that has slipped away. Although the Big Boat Series is still run each Fall – hosted by St. Francis Yacht Club and sponsored by Rolex – sadly the Kenwood Cup has gone by the wayside.
I have to satisfy my thirst for images in those wild waters of Hawaii with the biennial Transpac Race finishes. You’ll hear more about that in months to come!