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I have just spent 10 days providing safety cover for the Mirror National Championships and following on from the the European Championships.  As the standard of sailing was really high, there was very little to do so I was glad I took my cameras (even if they did not survive unscathed).  I was really pleased with some of the photographs I took, but mostly I was really pleased with the reaction of the sailors.

At one point I had a camera in a waterproof case dangling off the back of the boat I was in.  The sailors responded really well to this and I got some really memorable photographs.  A couple are going to go on my wall, but one incident sticks in my mind as being really funny.  A boat by the name of Chips was crossing behind my boat, with the intention of having their photograph taken when another got between us and the boat.  Laughing, the crew of Chips shouted “You ruined my photo opportunity!” and there was much laughing.  I caught the moment but did not notice until after but here is the photo.  You can see her protesting – arms out wide!

I got photos of them after too, I really hope they like them.

You stole my photo opportunity

You stole my photo opportunity!

The second photograph is the Photo Op!

Mirror Dinghies competing at Brixham in the European Championships

Well its been a while since my last post.  I mean a while ;on a geological timescale.


Today, I have been out on the water photographing the Brixham Heritage Event.  This happens every year, this time I was out on Ron Campions Rib photographing the heritage fleet.


To qualify to be part of the heritage fleet, your boat must have been designed before 1970, there were a wide variety of boats present ranging from French fishing boats to Brixham Trawlers and 1930s racing yachts.

Whilst taking the photographs I was reminded of Robert Capa’s maxim “If your photographs aren’t good enough you aren’t close enough”.  It was windy at points and this brought some challenges – such as trying to keep the lens dry through the spray.  I was generally very pleased with the resulting images and they went down really well with the sailors afterwards.  This is what really counts.

I think everyone had a great day on the water and I cannot thank Ron who drove the Rib enough after all it was his driving that got me into the really close positions to take the photographs.  At times the bowsprits were over our little boat – and we had to duck to keep out of the way.  IMG_4097

That moon guy

The Guy

The bonfire at Ottery St Mary is huge, the guy dominates the skyline

Looking for something to do for Bonfire Night, I went to Ottery St Mary to see a Devonian tradition. It involves running up and down a crowded street with a flaming tar barrel. The event becomes more and more popular every year and the sleepy little village is over run with visitors intent on a little excitement.

I took my camera and tried to get close to the action to get some photos. I can tell you there was no time for chimping (looking at the LCD) If you don’t keep your wits about you you could get burned.

The tradition has been going since the Gunpowder plot of 1605 but may stem from rituals designed to fumigate buildings and scare away evil spirits. Doesn’t seem to work with onlookers though.

Check out the video on British Pathe of it taking place in the 1960’s

Here are some of the photographs.  I’m just waiting for my eyebrows to grow back.

The first of the larger barrels is paraded round outside the Volunteer Inn in the square

A carrier dives out of the way to put out his flaming glove

The carrier finds some space


The Carriers find it hard to run with the crowd hemming them in

Finally finding some space a carrier runs through the crowd


someone else risking their camera

The barrel is handed over in the air

I'm just nipping down the Co-Op for a burning barrel dear.

It seems all that protects the carrier is a couple of layers of clothing and some sack gloves

Here that bloke has a flaming barrel on his head.

Photographer dives for safety

As the time progresses the barrel burns down and eventualy collapses.

A crowd gathers for the bonfire, probably waiting for the flames to die so they can put jacket potatoes on



Children's Barrels

Went to watch the AC45s in action in Plymouth Sound hoping for some action.  We weren’t disappointed!  It was blowing really hard and the cats were flying round the Sound.  It was a shame I couldn’t get much closer to get some photos but the actual sailing was breathtaking.  I usually find watching sailing akin to watching paint dry.  Loads of people turned up to watch.  Plymouth Sound makes a great amphitheatre and there were people everywhere.  The game seemed all about the spectators with races being 20 minutes each and finishing right in front of the crowd.  The only fly in the ointment was caused by the staff at Smeaton Tower who shut just as the last race was finishing so I didn’t get to watch the end.  Still it was like being in a helicopter! 


Racing on Thursday Nights in Brixham has finished for the season.  Winter is on the way.  Still we were seen off with a lovely sunset as we were putting the boats away.  I am a bit disappointed, last year we had dolphins too.

In fact, this year has been a bit of a year for sunsets.  I think the bright pinks may have had something to do with ash from volcanoes.

Motoring the boat home after the last Thursday night in Brixham. The last of the fleet finished as the sun went down

This weekend Brixham Yacht Club hosted the Sonata Southern Area Championships. I managed to get a ride on one of the support boats and get some pictures. Thanks go to Jerry for putting up with a cranky photographer.

Sonatas head fight for clear air off the start lineThe fleet running in very light airs."A Sharp Exit" rounds the leeward mark on the way to the finish

"A Sharp Exit" rounds the leeward mark on the way to the finish

The fleet running in very light airs.

Also putting in an appearance was the sailing Trawler Vigilance.  With the aid of the RiB driver, we got very close in.  So close I banged my head on the bowsprit.

Vigilance from an unusual angle


A couple of weekends ago in May (ok a month ago) I managed to borrow a RIB from Brixham Yacht Club and get some photographs of the Brixham Heritage Festival sailing.  The weather was rough and overcast.  Conditions in the RIB were difficult.  Sky covered the event as part of their series they are doing on Brixham.  This created some interesting opportunities when a helicopter turned up to film the event.  The helicopter flew really low to get film of the boats.  I think I managed to get in the way.  Well I got a free haircut!

Helicopter flies low over yachts whilst filmingThe Heritage Fleet sail upwind with help from a helicopter


Leader reaches towards Berry Head