Five years ago at the Emmy Awards a TV News colleague said “this is a highlight of your career.”
I never thought of it that way, but while escorting Maserati eight nautical miles out to sea aboard my 12 foot boat, in the middle of the night, in swell and rainy conditions, I found myself thinking ‘now THIS is what I consider a highlight’.
I had been commissioned by Giovanni Soldini’s PR Team to photo document the crew’s final preparations on the dock, for the racing yacht’s transatlantic record attempt.
My car was loaded with gear, when Soldini called asking if I could also bring my boat to push Maserati’s bow around to better maneuver her out of North Cove Marina.
The forecast called for 25 knots of wind and the Hudson River has strong currents, so he felt it was crucial to have a support boat in the harbor when casting off the lines.
I thought to myself ‘How am I going to run boat operations and photo/video on the dock at the same time… I need assistants!’ Kristina Fiore and Joel Gibson had been onboard with RIBphoto.com (now New York Media Boat) since day one, and immediately offered their availability.
They would take the photography equipment by car to lower manhattan, while I ran the boat over to North Cove Marina. Parking in that area is a real challenge but after paying off a hotel concierge, the loading zone was ours.
Soldini was below deck charting icebergs, bowman Corrado Rossignoli focused on checking all ten sail bags, while a diver gave the hull a last wipe-down. Shortly after our arrival at 9:00 pm the rest of the Maserati crew came down the dock. Brad Van Liew expressed concern that the latest weather update slightly differed from what had previously been predicted.
Personally I like to shoot with a 12-24mm lens when working on boats as it captures a good amount of deck space. In this case the helm, winches and three carbon fiber grinders added a nice touch.
Joel and I were hitting the shutter buttons, as on-board preparations continued, and Kristina managed to arrange for a video interview with second bowman Tom Gall – who’s biggest worry are growlers south of Newfoundland.
A steady and annoying rain had set in and I was glad to have opted to bring equipment dry-bags.
Around 10:00 pm Soldini held a final briefing and boat captain Guido Broggi distributed PLB’s, strobes, and the watch schedule.
There was a pile of bags on the dock with non-essential gear that needed to be shipped to London in order to lighten the boat and Soldini grew nervous as the hired courier was running late. After promising him that we’d take care of it, he felt ready to cast off.
My crew split up. Kristina stayed on the dock to handle equipment bags and the car. Joel kept shooting aboard Maserati and captured one of my favorite photos of Soldini setting course towards Ambrose Light.
I ran the RIB and took shots of the yacht in front of the new york skyline.
Once clear of the marina, Soldini gave orders to hoist the main. He then motioned me to come alongside for a moving transfer of Joel from Maserati to the small boat, at about 15 knots.
We continued chasing Maserati past the Statue of Liberty and under the Verrazano Bridge.
With the ISO screaming at 6400, the camera LCD showed more than the naked eye could see.
These were extremely difficult shooting conditions, but I was pleased with the results while cranking the ISO to the max, as I like to normally keep it below 1200.
Once the lights from the NY boroughs faded and Maserati sailed onto a pitch black Atlantic Ocean, we wished them good luck and reversed our course.
Just after 2:00 am we docked the RIB at Liberty Landing Marina, where Kristina awaited our return.
A preliminary photo selection was made for the Italian PR firm just in time for them to start their workday in a timezone 6 hours ahead of ours.
It was an successful shoot and I want to thank Kristina and Joel for their hard work on short notice.
Check out a list of where the photos from this shoot were published.