Etchells World Championships – An Aerial Perspective

At the end of October, I was lucky enough to work as the official photographer for the Etchells World Championships hosted at the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron on Moreton Bay. I was thrilled to receive such an opportunity as the Etchells are known as one of the best one design fleets in the world with close and competitive racing. With 95 boats on the start line and many legends of the sailing world on deck there were going to be many great photo opportunities.

I saw the Etchells regatta as a great opportunity to increase my exposure as a photographer and drone photographer to a wider sailing market. Also, being such a large fleet and a long regatta meant I received ample opportunity to broaden my individual skill set and shooting techniques that can make me stand out in my field. 

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When it comes to capturing the start of a yacht race from the drone it can be a very stressful time. With only three batteries available to me each day I had to choose wisely when to fly and when to taking normal photos. Couple this with a start sequence of six minutes and the redundancy required to land safely back on the boat means flight time gets reduced very quickly. When boats start to break the line before the gun and a restart is required decisions need to be made quickly whether to stay in the air or land to conserve battery. On one occasion I used 25 percent of each battery trying to capture one start!

The enormity of a fleet such as this gets a new meaning of scale when filmed from the air. The start line was a monstrous 1200 m long. On one race start I flew the Mavic pro up and back over the entire fleet after the gun had gone (flying diagonally to stay overhead), This took me over three minutes in sport mode! See link below for the video.

I loved being able to fly over the top mark roundings, following the colourful spinnakers as they headed downwind. I had to pinch myself a few times that I was doing this, above Olympic and Americas Cup champions no less. Then to be able to produce an edit and show it to these very people is a great sense of achievement and something that I want to continue to do.

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