Last weekend saw us heading down to the Isle of White for the Round the Island Yacht Race. We were commissioned to get some shots at The Needles and at various locations around the Isle.
We set off Friday afternoon to catch an early ferry across from Lymington. We were camping near The Needles so the early start gave us the chance to carry out a good recce all over the south of the Island. The two best vantage points were going to be the headland leading out to The Needles themselves and then for us to head off down to Ventnor on the south-east of the island. We would then follow the race around the rest of the island and head back to Cowes.
The start was scheduled for 07:00am from Cowes and the impressively sized field (some 1,800 boats) would head anti-clockwise towards Hurst Castle and then to The Needles themselves meaning the first boats would be seen around 08:15am. We set up camp, grabbed an evening meal at The Wight Mouse Inn and then went to bed early aiming to rise at 06:00am to grab the best vantage point and make sure we were on time. The weather overnight was unkind to my poorly equipped pal who was holding onto his rotting canvas during Force 4 winds and driving rain at 03:00am!
We headed off first thing to our vantage point and not looking forward to the hike up the headland carrying heavy gear. We were fortunate to be able to hail the local bus that kindly stopped and took us almost to where we were heading for the princely sum of £2.50. We set up gear and waited in the now blustery but brightening conditions and were shortly joined by another photographer and quite a few sightseers and onlookers.
At 08:20am the first boats were heading around The Needles and shortly after that, The Eleanor, a large ‘J Class’ yacht being assisted by Ben Ainsley (3 times Olympic Champion) at the helm, cruised into view. It wasn’t long before many of the 1,800 boats taking part were rounding the difficult stage in excellent conditions with our light improving all the time (although the wind was still a factor). We shot mostly on tripod with an 70-200 f2.8 lens around f10 – f13 which left a good fast shutter speed. The only precaution was to try to ensure the sun was hitting the bright white rocks and cliff face as we were shooting.
We spent a couple of hours there and then headed back to our van and off to Ventnor. A pretty town with a lovely sea front where we spent a further few hours shooting the mass of the field using a mono’d 400mm f2.8 on a cropped sensor 7D giving plenty of reach. The sun was playing its part and depending on which way we were pointing, quite different light could be achieved.
We followed the field around the rest of the island and then cruised our own way back into Cowes for some well earned r&r (called Guinness)!
These are a few of the shots taken on the day and as usual, I have adopted some harsh processing techniques at times which I both enjoy and allows me to be more creative than sometimes allowed!