budding beauty

budding beauty

In a sport that is undeniably visual, it’s still relatively hard for female photographers to make it in the sailing game.  You can count the number of top female shooters on one hand, and we’re happy to help promote a relative newcomer to the stage.  You might remember a short piece we ran from young, fit, and very creative Jen Edney a few months ago, and we asked her how things have been going lately.  She answered with this great little look at life behind the lens down Vallarta way:

Seven months after my first round of shooting sailing in Mexico, Mike Danielson once again invited me to Puerto Vallarta for Round Two, this time photographing the Copa de Naciones Vela Panamericana, a preparatory event for the Pan American Games in 2011. With winter fast approaching the Midwest, I couldn’t agree quickly enough!

Classes represented at these games were Hobie 16s, J 24s, Laser Radials, Laser Standards, sailboard RSX and Techno 293. The week was filled with light wind, reports of stolen boats (someone took the Lightning Thief movie a bit too literally), stubborn fisherman refusing to move out of the course (is the fishing really that good beneath the marks?), working through organizational kinks (kinkiest part of the regatta), and incredible athletes.

 How to Avoid Being Hobie Road Kill 101
With light and shifty conditions most of the week, it made action packed shots difficult to find, so I focused on the lifestyle aspect, spending a lot of time in the water on the Hobie/Windsurf course sporting my new and dead sexy red helmet.

By now, I’ve learned where the safe zones are but I always seem to want to push things to the next level with my photography. I had just introduced myself to Enrique Figueroa, hopped in the water and was about to ask him if he’d sail over me when I realized he must have read my mind because he was coming straight at me in his Hobie. I pointed to him and asked which way he was going and he held course and went over me. I shouted “You can run over me anytime!”  Luckily, I escaped unscathed.

I really enjoy shooting from the water as it allows me more personal time with the athletes, gets them excited about the images and helps them open up to me more. This results in better moments and being able to capture the personality of the athlete.

J24 – View From the Top
I had the camera ready, the harness on and halyard tied on, just about to start going up the mast when my line that was holding my camera broke loose! The camera landed on the deck, slid to the edge and just happened to get caught in between the boat and the dock.  Looks like I could use a refresher on my knot tying skills!

Thanks to Robin van Vliet for saving my camera from a terrible fate at the bottom of the PV Marina (and getting a nice shiner on her knee in the process!)

After I made sure to secure the line properly, Jasper van Vliet had the job of hauling me up the mast. After mounting the camera and making sure it was extra secure via spectra and electric tape, I came down just in time to send them on their way. I’d like to give a special thanks for allowing me to mount a camera on the mast of their J24. They were the only US entry, from Berkeley, CA. I’m working on a new perspective from the mast of a J24 with the goal being to get all the chaos of a weather mark rounding. The challenge was finding a camera small enough that shoots high quality images, and a crew nice enough to indulge my photography needs…. Thanks!

Great Expectations
One of the highlights from the week was the day I spent on the water with David Sprague, and Rich Jeffries. Both are form the Pan American Sailing Federation and were acting as Judges on the water and Measurement. It was extremely educational for me as it was my first time shooting Windsurfing, Hobie 16s and Lasers during a regatta. They took me where I needed to be to get the shots that I wanted, had no problem dumping me overboard when I wanted to shoot from the water and picking me up again. I basically had my own photo boat for the day, they were very accommodating but made sure to state, “Don’t get used to this! This isn’t how it’s always going to be.” I did promise them drinks later…

Eyes Wide Shut
I got to work once again with Chris Dold and Vaughn Harrison from the International Sailing Academy. This time trying to add flash to my images made for another interesting scenario. As skilled as these athletes are, there was definitely a couple times I almost became a Laser speed bump! There were a few moments I closed my eyes but continued to push the shutter button. It’s a bit of a dance trying to stay close enough to the dinghy for the lights to work but far enough away so that I don’t smash into the dinghy every time they pass by…anyone know a good chiropractor? I am getting pretty good at being a human fender.

 What’s Next?
I’m all set for the Pan American Games in October and am currently trying to put together a schedule for 2011. I will hopefully be starting the year with the Cape to Rio 2011 Race (anyone willing to take me onboard as crew/photographer?) This followed by a delivery for Ocean Sailing from Rio back to Cape Town in February.

With 2010 coming to a close, I am excited at the prospect of another year filled with intense action, enthusiastic athletes, incredible moments, meeting new people, having too many beers, and continuing to step out of my rapidly disappearing comfort zone. My bags are always packed and I am willing to shoot anything, anytime, anywhere.

Please check out my latest adventures at http://jenedney.wordpress.com/ and thanks for reading! -Jen