Racing of sailing boats is a sport that doesn’t get much in the way of mass media coverage. I grew up in a sailing town so, while I wasn’t a sailor, a lot of my friends were and so I saw a lot more of it than would be the norm. During my teenage years we also witnessed the first defeat of the US team in the America’s Cup, a story that did get international press coverage.
America’s Cup racing has always been the preserve of the richer members of society. It is a far cry from the sailing that is available to the average sailor with high tech boats and hand picked crews. (As an aside, one of the friends from school, Julian Salter, is a professional sailor and has been in crews competing for the America’s Cup.)
For a few years, I had been pretty oblivious to America’s Cup racing. The thing that changed it for me was the acquisition of TiVo. One of the channels covered the Louis Vuitton challenger series followed by the cup itself from Valencia a few years ago and we could record the races in full and then watch them at a more convenient time – adding our own editing courtesy of the fast forward button.
Nancy got into the racing as much as I did and we watched most of the series. It came as a big disappointment when the next round of the competition became hijacked by the stupid games of rich guys and ended up as a simple head to head competition that got virtually no coverage. We saw nothing of it.
Fortunately, some semblance of reason has returned and this time around, not only is the full format of the competition going to be back, they are having a series of events in the year running up to the event that are taking place around the world. This not only provides more opportunities for people to see the racing but it also allows the crews to get proficient with the new boats. This time the competition is not with monohulls. The boats are catamarans with wing sails.
The main competition is going to be held in 2012 in San Francisco. Whether I will be able to go and see any of it, I have no idea. However, one of the preliminary events was held in San Diego. I was already in the area for the El Centro photo shoot so I added a day to my travels to try and see the sailing. The plan didn’t quite work as hoped unfortunately.
I drove from El Centro to San Diego in the morning. Racing was scheduled for 1pm-4pm that afternoon. I did a quick reconnaissance to see where I wanted to be and got myself set up. Since it was early in the week, there were supposed to be about five head to head races. No massed racing but that would take place over the weekend when more people would be there to see it. Sadly, I couldn’t wait around for that.
More disappointingly, the great weather that San Diego had been experiencing vanished when I arrived. They was cloud rolling in as the racing started and soon it was more like a misty day. It was cold too! The best location to shoot from was the Navy Base at North Island. Since that wasn’t going to be an option, I made the best of what was possible without shooting right into the sun. Of course, there was not much sun but the mist did a great job of making what light there was turn into glare!
The boats that weren’t racing were also practicing so there were a number of boats out at various times. The races did come up towards us since one of the marks was very near where I was. Unfortunately, when a race came close, a boat towing advertising boards would also come into shot just as the boats did. This was great for TV coverage but not so good for those of us on the same level as the boats. I’m sure the helicopter shots looked great – when the helicopters managed to fly given the crappy conditions!
I got some shots but none are great. The ones here are to show you what was there. There is nothing there that I am too proud of. Some heavy editing was necessary to even get most of these. Was it worth it? Probably not. I could have stayed longer at El Centro or gone helicopter hunting in the passes on the drive back since electricity pylons were being assembled. I did end up chatting to some nice people so it wasn’t a total loss. Them’s the breaks!