Andrea Francolini is one of the best yachting photographers and after 15 years of shooting the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, he knows how to get the perfect shot. While everyone is looking at who is going to be the first boat out the heads, Andrea is dodging helicopters, directing the pilot and trying to get that perfect shot.
Andrea explained what it is like in the sky on Boxing Day. “Last year I counted 16 helicopters in the air so there is a bit of a traffic jam and there is a lot of spotting. You need to keep an eye open when you do your manoeuvres and all that kind of stuff. The pilots talk to each other ‘alright we are going to go on Wild Oats, where are you?’ ‘I am over here on Comanche.’ So you sort yourself out which is nice, but it is full on. “
When inside Sydney Harbour, the helicopters have designated airspace, but outside the heads it is a free for all. “You are allocated heights in the harbour depending on the kind of helicopter you have and all that stuff. So you are stuck in that height. “
This can be quite the challenge if you are after a particular shot. “If you want to go out of it you go above but then you can’t get in it until you’re outside the heads and it is free for everybody. So it is a gamble, what do you do? And if you are shooting a boat, you can’t do the fancy stuff.”
But it isn’t just being in the air that challenges the photographer. In the 2014 race, we saw Comanche fly out of Sydney Harbour. This year it was a bit slower and the fleet had to do a lot more manoeuvres, but it was still quick.
“The main problem is, the majority of the pictures have to be taken within the first five minutes of the race because once they go out to sea, yea it is a nice boat bouncing up and down in waves, you can get shadows, two boats together if it happens. But it could be anywhere so you need a Sydney icon in the background.”
Despite the challenges Andrea is able to get the perfect shot, his photos are always on the pages of Australian Sailing magazine, and quite often the cover and double page spread. It doesn’t seem to matter if the weather is calm and the seas are flat or if there is a freshening nor-easter like today.
Take a look for yourself, did he get the shot?
– Kimberley Wilmot – Editor Australian Sailing