During his decades of work, Arrigo has cemented himself as one of the world’s premier yachting and sports photographers. Arrigo recently captured brilliant photos during the 50th edition of the famed Rolex Fastnet Race.
The biennial race spans nearly 700 nautical miles, and Arrigo calls it “a true spectacle in the world of yacht racing.”
“Commencing in Cowes on the Isle of Wight and culminating in Cherbourg, France, the race takes sailors through a diverse range of conditions and terrains, from the southern coast of England to the treacherous waters around the Fastnet Rock. As a seasoned photographer who has documented this spectacular event multiple times, I understand the intricacies and preparations required for this unique challenge. Each race is a dynamic and ever-changing canvas, making it a thrilling endeavor for any photographer,” Arrigo tells PetaPixel over email.
The 2023 race marked Arrigo’s eighth time documenting the event. As is always the case on the ocean, conditions change frequently and unpredictably. However, as a seasoned photographer, Arrigo was quick to adapt.
Even with his wealth of experience, rough seas pose photographic challenges. “One of the most exhilarating aspects of photographing the Rolex Fastnet Race is the unpredictable and sometimes unforgiving conditions that Mother Nature can unleash. Waves ranging from two to four meters high can create a dynamic and visually striking backdrop for your photos. However, capturing the perfect shot in these challenging conditions is no small feat, especially from a small chase boat bobbing up and down in the high seas,” Arrigo explains.
Shooting in these sorts of conditions makes it challenging to capture sharp, well-composed images. With the constant motion of the waves and the boat, it isn’t easy to keep the ships in frame.
However, armed with the new Nikon Z8, Arrigo says that the camera’s built-in image stabilization proved incredibly beneficial. Further, the Z8’s impeccable autofocus performance significantly helped Arrigo.
“In high seas, the focus can be a photographer’s worst enemy. The constantly shifting subject distances as boats rise and fall on waves can make it challenging to maintain focus. With the Nikon Z8’s advanced autofocus system, you can trust that your subject will stay in focus, even when the sea is at its most turbulent,” says Arrigo.
He also notes that the camera’s robust weather sealing gave him the confidence to focus on shooting and not on whether his gear would survive the race.
As for lens selection, Arrigo says, “You’ll need to alternate between wide-angle and telephoto shots to showcase the vastness of the sea and the intricate details of the yachts.” He uses a variety of f/2.8 Nikon lenses covering focal lengths from 14mm to 400mm.
Even with sophisticated modern camera equipment full of artificial intelligence-powered autofocus, Arrigo had to overcome many challenges to capture a diverse set of stunning photos of the maritime race.
Arrigo also has a skilled pilot at the helm of the boat he uses to follow the racers. “As more than 400 yachts gathered at the starting line, the atmosphere was charged with excitement. I had a clear game plan: armed with my camera and fueled by adrenaline, I aimed to get ahead to Hurst Castle aboard my offshore rib, with a skilled driver at the helm, to capture images of these spectacular race yachts surging through three-meter waves. Was it challenging? Undoubtedly. Was it worth it? Absolutely!”
Kurt Arrigo has experienced considerable growth as a photographer and person throughout the years.
“The Fastnet Race has turned into a journey of personal evolution. It’s about pushing my limits, tackling obstacles, and eagerly awaiting every curveball that the sea and the race throw my way. With each year that goes by, my camera has caught more than just yachts — it’s snagged human grit, the ever-changing moods of the ocean, and most importantly, the thrill of it all,” Arrigo concludes.
More of Kurt Arrigo’s photography, including beautiful underwater photography, terrestrial sports, and travel photography, is available on his website and Instagram. Arrigo also offers many of his excellent images in the form of fine art prints.
Image credits: Photos by Kurt Arrigo