Round the Island Race 2007
Having awoken early on Thursday 21st June for the solstice, I was taking comfort from the knowledge that I wouldn't have to get up so early again this year. Unfortunately I had conveniently 'forgotten' about Saturday 23rd - The Round the Island Yacht Race.
At 3 o'clock the alarm went off and I found it surprisingly easy to get up and ready. I guess it was the anticipation of my first ever chance to photograph this amazing spectacle as I normally have a craft show booked. Not only that, but it was also my first time out on a RIB - which I was looking forward to almost more than the photography!
At 5.00am I met with fellow photographers Chris Boynton and Barry Wilson at Yarmouth Harbour, just as dawn was breaking. A beautiful pink and blue tinged sky greeted us from the east - this looked like it could be a good day. Our skipper Dan greeted us at 5.15 and we were away. With lifejackets secured and cameras out and ready, we raced towards Hurst Castle to wait and watch for the first boats.
Now I know very little about yachting, and so I was reliant on the knowledge of Chris and Dan to let me know what was happening and who was who. "Here comes the Leopard - she's favourite to win" said Chris pointing towards the sun. She was hard to miss - well out in front already and looking stunning in silhouette against the sky.
As my knowledge is shaky to say the least I was going to use the experience to concentrate on purely aesthetic shots, wanting particularly a wide angle shot of the Needles with as many coloured sails as could be squeezed into a frame around them, rather than aiming at capturing specific yachts, but I couldn't ignore the elegance and sheer power of The Leopard as she hurtled passed us.
At once Dan powered the RIB along side her, hardly able to keep up with the speed she was doing, and we all rattled off a handful of shots as we sped past her. Now I'm used to photographing on reasonably firm land, always using a tripod, and waiting anything up to 4 hours to get one shot so this was quite a change! But the exhilaration was fantastic, and I soon took to the challenge like a duck to, err, water!
Once the Leopard had passed, Dame Ellen MacArthur was not far behind, but rather than keep up with the leaders and get tangled up with all the press RIBs, we decided to stay around the Needles and capture the rest of the fleet as they rounded the spectacular chalk pinnacles. Besides, both Chris and Barry had commissions to fulfill, and I wanted to get a shot of the Needles with as many yachts round them as possible.
Our main problem was light - or rather the lack of it. Constantly the sun teased us by splashing beautiful golden patches onto the sea in the east, backlighting the spinnakers of the yachts heading towards St. Catherine's point, but the clouds stubbornly refused to move off the Needles...everywhere we went the light didn't.
Finally our patience was rewarded and around 9.00am for 15 minutes we were bathed in golden light and beautiful blue skies as the bulk of the yachts were heading to St. Catherine's. Finally around 10 am Dan steered us back around the Needles and dropped us back in Yarmouth where my freshly found sea legs wobbled somewhat back on dry land!
A quick breakfast in Yarmouth and then a drive back home to Ryde to see the last few yachts passing the forts and the Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth rounded off the day nicely - definitely a lie in tomorrow!
Chris Boynton's "Island Photo Art" cards of the event should be on sale next week, whilst images captured by myself can be viewed and purchased here - more will be added during the week as they get processed.