I love photographing at Kingsbury. In terms of vantage points there are few places I’ve been with as many options as Kingsbury. Where else can you, within a 3 metre radius, go from being sitting down almost at water-level to standing up roughly 3 metres above the water level, and in either position be less than 10 metres from the passing boats? The other selling point it has is that it isn’t actually that big to walk around, although next year I think I’ll take a bike (purely to get around faster).
On Saturday, the weather was, let’s say “changeable”, but this never deters anyone involved. Qualifying got underway and I soon began to feel like this could be a pivotal weekend in the season. In the GT15 boats, Thomas, Jonny and Harvey all looked quick and I felt it could have gone the way of any one of them. In the GT30’s it was also close at the front, with Jack Pickles making a welcome appearance in the top 3. The T850 pack showed just how much they enjoy racing around Kingsbury, putting in some very enthusiastic performances and showing plenty of boat bottoms, and the bolstered F4 pack were equally enthusiastic.
Being able to get so close to the water enables spectators to see the variety of lines the drivers use first hand. Sitting on the bank before the islands as the boats round the top turn, you can see really clearly the difference between the drivers who keep their line tight out of the turn and those who let their boat run out wide. Heading for the gap between the bank and the islands, the boats come close. Really close.
For photographers I guess there are two main choices: set the shutter speed high and shoot the boats coming towards you, or set it low and pan with the boats as they pass. There are of course opportunities to experiment within these bounds, but at Kingsbury, either of these approaches should produce results to be pleased with.
The other thing that I noticed more at Kingsbury than I have anywhere before was the efforts the drivers take to stick as close as possible to their prefered line but at the same time avoid the prop-wash of the boat ahead. Watching the T850 boats in particular, the drivers were making constant adjustments to stay exactly where they wanted to be on the ever-changing surface of the water.
The Kingsbury GP weekend was a good one, with strong performances in all classes. Thomas Mantripp won in the GT15’s, Bill Owen in the T850’s, Sam Whittle in the F4’s, and there was a hugely popular first National win for Tiegen Goodfellow in the GT30’s (who went on to receive the customary dunking…twice).
Next we move on the Chasewater for the Cannock GP on the 16th/17th July. This piece of water has a long history of powerboat racing, and presents its own challenges for a photographer. The F2’s will be back, the drivers are hungry for more, and I can’t wait to get there.