A couple of days prior to the start of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, late last year, I was assigned to go and shoot the skipper of the super-maxi yacht and five time winner of the race, Mark Richards.
I wasn’t given any specific instructions from the picture desk, but I knew right away that I wanted to go up the mast and get of a shot of the skipper up there. The mast on Wild Oats XI is 48 metres high and getting winched up there in little more than a seat with a plastic buckle holding me in was something I didn’t even think about at the time, but later when filing my pictures felt a little uneasy about.
Mark had never been photographed up the mast before, which I didn’t find out until my feet were back on solid ground. I thought the mast photo might have been a little cliché but was happy to hear that although he had been up and down the mast hundreds of times, he had never been photographed up there. A good score for our paper!
I took up my Nikon D3 with the 14-24 lens and the hardest part of getting this photo (besides the glaring early afternoon sun) was not getting my feet in the picture. 48 metres up swinging around on a rope with the entire boat rocking and a fair breeze blowing, combined with ten or more rigging ropes getting in the way and sending sharp harsh shadows on the subject, proved problematic. A small white puffy cloud gave me enough time to get a quick shot with some not so harsh light, and after that we were done. Mark was a busy man in the middle of last minute preparations with his crew prior to the big race.
The photo ran six columns on page 3 of The Australian the following day.
A very cool assignment indeed!