Apparently the only way to get really cool looking photos of offshore boats in their natural environment is to sail a good distance away from land and fly a helicopter overhead with a world class photographer and cameraman on board. The other key elements are a good windy day and plenty of sunlight . Organising the first three elements is fairly straight forward, if expensive but it’s getting everything to happen at once that becomes hard. So after a lot of planning and waiting when the perfect opportunity has presented itself with five sailors in five working boats 20 miles offshore by a great big lighthouse the pressure is on. Especially when the helicopter only has just over an hour’s worth of fuel.
Lining up in a perfect straight line with five boats in 20 knots of breeze isn’t easy but it was my job to coordinate the sailors over the VHF to make sure we were all in the right place at the right time. A big night before hand and an early start made things no easier and when we realised we couldn’t hear anything from the guys in the air on the radio things got even more stressful for me. The build up and the limited time frame made the hour of sailing close in formation, out of formation and all hoisting spinnakers at least as full on as any race I’ve done and within a few minutes I was burning up. It felt like no time at all when things went quiet as the chopper flew home on the last of its fuel leaving us in a state of anticlimax. Thankfully Mark Lloyd got a load of excellent photos and save for one major T-boning everything went according to plan. Hopefully next time I might get to help coordinate from the air rather than the sea!