All to often we say the words, “It’s the beginning of the end.” When perhaps we should be saying, “It’s the beginning [of something new].”
Such was the case for the American Windsurfing Tour (AWT) event in Punta San Carlos (PSC) this year. Having shot two of the previous events in Santa Cruz and Pistol River, the AWT had asked if I could be the official photographer for the event in PSC. And so it was arranged that I would hand over the bar for the week and focus on the photography.
I had decided that I was not going to compete in the even as I wanted to focus on the photography and didn’t want to be caught in a heat missing shots or having to shoot from a mediocre view point in order to be close to the launch. Though when head judge, Chris Freeman, asked me to compete to even out the numbers I gave in, thinking I’d only make it through a couple of heats and then be done.
The week started off slow with small waves and gusty winds not worthy of competition so a few of us got out to enjoy some small yet empty waves. It is one of the incredible things about windsurfing, I was out on the water trading waves with one of the world’s best, Boujmaa Guilloul, just two guys enjoying a fun session, sharing a common passion. In a world that is divided by the haves and have nots, the elites and the want to bes, the accomplished and the never quite made its; windsurfing sees none of this, it is a community of equals, a community the world could learn from. That is until Bouj casually launched an aerial off a chilli bowl lip next to me and I immediately knew that is was time get the camera.
That first evening I sat on the rocks with a new vantage point as the sun sunk ever lower, the turmoil inside me grew. I had become so accustomed to having to run back to the bar just as the light started to pop that I felt like I was shirking my responsibilities, that I should not have been out there shooting when there guests waiting for drinks. It was then that I realized that I had lost one of the reasons I started this journey, I had lost a certain amount of freedom. Whether this was due to my own attitude toward responsibility and work or due to the expectations of my position at SoloSports I am uncertain, regardless it sparked the idea that maybe it was time to move on.
As the week progressed I grew more comfortable with not having to get back to the bar and combined with media blackout due to the ever contentious internet connection at SoloSports this allowed me to spend my evenings casually working through the day’s shots rather than rush through them in an effort to satisfy the instant gratification needs of today’s society. Could I mould my current position at SoloSports into this one, wasn’t this what I had been working towards?
Getting the shots I wanted proved difficult in the small and inconsistent conditions, if only the competition had been the week before. In addition to the lack of conditions I also found myself progressing through heats and into the final of the amateurs. Sailing in competition was a good way to both push me and force me to calm my style, to not go for broke on every turn. It also meant trading between windsurfing gear and camera gear running between sailing spot and shooting spot. So while I was improving on the sailing front I felt I was not getting to shoot from as many positions as I would have liked and missed a lot of shots from the amateur heats. Fortunately Dawn Pooley was there to fill in and get a few snaps to publish on the AWT news pages where you can find a blow by blow of the event.
Finishing 3rd in the finals was bitter sweet, on the one hand it signified how far I had come as a windsurfer in my two years in Punta San Carlos on the other hand it was greeted with the words, “I think your time here has come to an end…”
If you were at the AWT even or would like to get hold of any of the photos you can find them all on Google Drive here.