High Performance Sailing Photography

High performance sailing photography is like the icing on the cake for me. As you may have gathered by now, I love nautical photography! But each aspect of it is very different from the other. While waterfront photos may be more of a study in still life, high performance sailing is nothing but action. And classic sailing probably falls closer to the side of high performance than still life to be sure! For the majority of my life I was crew on a variety of sailboats and as such I didn't photograph much of any of that. Back then, I shot ski racing for a hobby and occasional gig.

Getting high performance sailing photo shots almost always requires a ride instead of shooting from onshore. Only occasionally, have I found a stationary spot on terra firma to be a satisfactory position to catch performance sailing photography. Its' only real upside is that the ground does not rock and roll!. Although, one time, I shot from a high hotel balcony that overlooked the race course. That position provided an interesting angle. I could see myself seeking that sort of thing out again. Of course, the ultimate location to shoot regattas and racing is from the seat of an open helicopter. I almost got to do that once! I could switch to drone work and I haven't completely written that activity off. But I also have not jumped at it. I have a bit of a built in protectionist attitude towards them. My father has been an RC enthusiast for decades and the amount of lost planes, gliders, copters, et al is enough to cause me to pause when considering the possibilities.

High performance sailing today can mean quite a bit of difference in just the past few decades. Speed is/was relative to performance. Non sailors would call traditional sailboat racing, "watching paint dry." Not for the participants, but to spectators, a race can seem quite "slow," when indeed there is much activity and excitement aboard. A top level class I enjoy shooting is the TP52. "Badpak," now known as "Warrior Won" shown here, is one of those sleds. But over the past decade or so, sailing fans have been treated to an increasing arms race at the top levels of the sport. First came catamarans. They really aren't "new" per se. I sailed on them when I was in my 20's. Enjoyed a near death pitchpoling on a Nacra17 come to think of it!  Then came foiling catamarans. These engineering wonders can move much faster than the wind! I've personally witnessed them reaching speeds up to 50mph!! The first time I saw them was on San Francisco Bay at the America's Cup there in 2013. A few years later i was able to shoot the "Extreme Cats" on San Diego bay and will probably share some pics from both of those events here in the future. If you watched the last America's Cup you saw the foiling monohulls. A lot of purists say enough. But I think there is room for all of it. Parts of all of our culture will always be driving the leading edge of technology in an effort to gain more speed. If you don't enjoy it, enjoy and support all of the classic sailing and long standing classes of the sport and ignore that which annoys you!

It wasn't until I moved to California just after the turn of the century and had hung up my skis when I began to shoot the local regattas. I joined a local yacht club when I owned a sailing club for a time. I raced a bit but had more fun being the bartender and taking photos! Then, when I moved to San Diego, I found myself in one of the top three sailing cities in the USA! I was further propelled into shooting more and more sailing when I was hired by a national sailing organization to provide them with monthly sailing content for their social media, brochures, etc. Believe it or not I was very happy with that gig and when it ended after five year, i was equally happy!

Being right amongst the action with the boats is an exhilarating feeling. When they are all around; the sound of the efforts, the waves, maybe even some yelling... there's always some yelling! The two days I spent out chasing the 12 Metre World Championships left me wanting more and with just a little luck I hope to do that again in 2022!


I am also very excited to announce now, that I am bringing you some select high performance sailing photography from the 12 Metres and beyond as desktop wallpaper giveaways during 2022. In fact, I'm starting right now! "Squeeze Play" is my first EVER desktop wallpaper giveaway. In the photo you see Victory 83 running through her competitors before dropping the chute to round the mark, they find themselves squeezed between two working their way upwind after the mark. This photo almost never saw the light of day through no fault of its own. I just didnt see it the first time so it never got flagged and had to wait until this year when I've spent much more time going over the 3000 or so photos I took of that event. I find myself more and more intrigued by these types of photos that look nice in a first sweeping glance but then grow on you as you spend more time taking in what is actually going on. It serves two types of viewers; those that enjoy the colors and scale but also those that respect the details of sailing yachts like this. CLICK HERE to get your Free desktop computer (or laptop) wallpaper download link!

I'm looking to have a lot of fun with the desktop wallpaper giveaways this year. Maybe we can even vote on some of the most popular shots to pick one that can become desktop wallpaper? They won't all be modern high performance sailing photos either. I will also drop a few classics and waterfronts! What else could I do like this to get you excited? Comment below and let me know! Should I NFT them?


Sailors are never at a loss for relevant music to listen to whether on shore or at sea. A common thread throughout my life has been the Grateful Dead. I guess I'm not a true "deadhead" but there are very few tunes they have played through the decades that I didn't like. One of the aspects of the Dead is that they were a live music group. They released albums a many but those tunes took on a different life when played live by the band. In fact, the Grateful Dead invented the "jam band" type of rock and roll. This song i chose is case in point; it is actually two Bob Weir/John Barlow tunes mashed together. This writing pair was, perhaps, not as prolific as Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter but the fact this band had these two pairs of creators is why their sound is so diverse and in my humble opinion, stands the test of time. Bob Weir is one of the great rock and roll characters of our lifetime in my humble opinion!