Shooting sailing aerials at the 2012 London Olympics

Shooting footage of Olympic yacht-racing is always a challenge. Yachts are usually too far away from land for even the longest lens, and all other camera platforms are far from smooth, whether from boats off the course but on the waves, or helicopters 500′ away or 1,000′ above (to eliminate downdraft from affecting the yachts).

The only solution to eliminate intense multi-directional shaking of the camera, is a gyroscopic mount. A pioneer in the use of gyro mounts for yacht-racing is cinematographer Laurence K Gilbert of Aerial Marine.

When I first met Laurie, he was shooting aerials of the 1987 America’s Cup for the world ‘pool’, as I filmed a television commercial with the eventual ‘Auld Cup’ winner, Dennis Conner.

Our collaboration on that project (exchanging dupes of his aerial race footage, for dupes of our close-up crew coverage shot on-board the New York Yacht Club’s “Stars and Stripes” on a lay-day), and drinks in dynamic Fremantle bars, initiated a 25 year professional relationship of filming, sailing and friendship.

Laurie shot the OOCL Etchells World Championships in Hong Kong which I produced for the world pool. His coverage has included every type of sailing vessel from windsurfers to supertankers.

He has filmed (and photographed) around the globe on television, corporate, commercial and feature film projects. He has used gyro-mounted cameras in the Mediterranean, TransPac race from California to Hawaii, and in Olympics off the coast of China (2008) and Korea (1988).

Laurie’s footage contributed to a Golden Rings award presented by The International Olympic Committee (IOC) for Best Coverage by the Host Broadcaster at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

In the 2012 London Olympic Games, Laurie is shooting with a carbon-fibre bodied, externally mounted, gyroscopic camera, amongst a fleet of 4 helicopters. Few cameramen in the world are more qualified.

Photo: Laurie K Gilbert

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