Tag Archives: sailing

Christophe Launay – Following Seneca’s Philosophy

Thomas Coville and the trimaran Sodebo during a sea trial between La Trinite Sur Mer to Brest.
 
“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity." That sentence, from the Roman philosopher Seneca, has become my personal motto.
 
I started shooting ocean photography in 1998, after moving from France to Sydney, Australia. I was born in New Caledonia, a French territory in the Southwest Pacific, and my parents gave me my first bath in the warm Pacific Ocean, when I was just a few weeks old. Since then, I've always been attracted by the ocean.
With my ocean photography, I'm trying to convey what a special and spectacular sport yachting really is. For me, sailing photography came naturally, and I found that I could be extremely creative with my images, once I was able to prove I could also produce clean photography. I'm always trying to achieve the trinity of what I believe makes a great photograph: technically sound, great composition, and a great story. Although it's easier to concentrate on getting close to the yachting action, my aim is to capture both the action and the seascape, without compromising either. In the process, I've been fortunate to travel to some great sailing areas and it has been a privilege to work with so many dedicated and enthusiastic sailors.
Thomas Coville and the trimaran Sodebo during a sea trial in Marseille, before his record attempt Marseilleto Carthage.
To succeed on the water, you have to love and respect the ocean, keep things simple, and work with an open mind and wide eyes. You want to try to make every boat look as if it is one of the great beauties of the sea! You have to know your gear perfectly, be able to fix things yourself, be careful of the people around you and fully concentrate at all times. Be prepared, because a tricky situation can escalate into a disaster suddenly. For this reason, I always try to have a storyboard for the shoot in my head. At the end of the day, this kind of photography requires a lot of intuition, fitness and of course, luck.
Thomas Coville and the trimaran Sodebo during a sea trial between La Trinite Sur Mer to Brest.
I had the opportunity to photograph Thomas Coville, on his trimaran Sodebo, for the performance outdoor clothing company Helly Hansen. We shot during his training sessions in the Atlantic Ocean, before he set the world circumnavigation record. Thomas is 50 years old, but with a body of a 30 year-old. He's one of the best offshore sailors in the world, owning several solo, non-stop records for sailing around the world. He has sailed on a 100-foot-carbon-multihull on his own, and it's hard to truly appreciate until you're onboard just how impressive, fast (average speed 35 to 40 miles an hour ) and frightening this kind of yacht sailing can be.
Thomas Coville and the trimaran Sodebo during a sea trial between La Trinite Sur Mer to Brest.
One of the biggest challenges is finding the best way to capture these images. Sometimes I'm in a helicopter, sometimes in a chase boat. For this shoot with Thomas, I was with him onboard the trimaran. At the kinds of speeds he goes, you simply can't follow him in a tender, you have to be right there. For a day like this, you always have to be ready for any situation, but sailing with professionals, I trust them 110%, without question. I keep myself fit, prepared, and calm, no matter what happens.
Thomas Coville and the trimaran Sodebo during a sea trial between La Trinite Sur Mer to Brest.
Thomas Coville and the trimaran Sodebo during a sea trial between La Trinite Sur Mer to Brest.
See more of Christophe's images here!