Action sports photographer Olaf Pignataro recently shot the Red Bull Foiling Generation – the competition designed to unearth the next generation of sailing stars. We caught up with Olaf to discuss how it went down and the ins and outs of shooting a sailing event…
How was the event?
Shooting the event was fun, but stressful as well; we were on sea for five days, and as English coast goes, the weather surprised us with any weather condition: from bright sun to thick mist to rain showers. One day was exceptionally rough, and it was hard to shoot with the super tele from the full speed moving rib boat jumping on the waves!
The competition was open to the best UK sailors between 16 and 20 years old. They were very talented, but some of them never sailed a catamaran before, and they all needed some time to adapt for these innovative Flying Phantoms. So it wasn't easy to catch, especially for the first stages, to have four boats aligned in good action; on the other hand, we had some very spectacular bail and capsize!
What gear do you use?
I really trust Nikon tropicalized equipment, and I don't use any kind of protection against rain and salty splashes. But I do carry a lot of lens tissues to get rid of the salt in front of the lens.
I prefer to use super zooms instead of super tele: a 200-400mm f4 is more versatile then a 300mm or 400mm f2.8; also, Nikon super zooms are lighter and slightly smaller then fixed lenses, and these features are really handy when you hold the zoom without a tripod or monopod.
How do you get unique angles?
I also mount GoPros on any place available, that on a 5.5 meters catamarans are not that many, as they tend to get stuck with ropes. Still, mounting the GoPros on the mast and on the front, and using the time-lapse function, I was able to have unique views of the races.
I think the most important advice I can give is: hire a good rib boat pilot! You want to have someone who knows a lot about sailing, who can predict where the catamarans are going to tack and foil, someone who is brave to put you very close to the action without getting in the way of the sailing boats.
Be sure to catch up with Olaf on his website, and on Facebook & Instagram.