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Newcomers Join The Party

For me, the Lancashire GP was a brilliant way to kick off the season. The racing was great, it was fantastic to see OSY’s racing round Carr Mill again, and the overall atmosphere of the event was exactly what you want for the first race of the year. The biggest and nicest surprise for me though, came in the form of the number of new or returning drivers that were taking part.

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The GT15 fleet was boosted by the arrival of Jessica Haylock and Caleb Jelf, both of whom certainly proved their worth over the course of the weekend, and the GT30 field was increased even more as Ralph White, Jayme Speller and Andy Cousins entered the mix. Newcomer to the series, Brad Holman complimented the OSY field, and the F4 field was the largest we’ve seen in recent years thanks to the arrivals of Martin Wood, John Donnelly, Ray Read, and the return of Mike Pillow.

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One thing that was obvious during the races was that everyone, regardless of their experience competing at national level, gave their all out on the water. The action was fast, sometimes frantic and occasionally frenzied, and the spectators on the banks and up at the clubhouse were treated to a brilliant display by all six classes.

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From a personal perspective, I took the opportunity to try out some new equipment, with varying results, but sometimes you have no alternative but to try things out “in the field” as it were. As I’m sure all the drivers will agree, you can test all you like but there’s no real substitute for getting out there in the thick of it to put your equipment through it’s paces.

So our attention turns now to the Lowestoft GP which will be wrapping up a week from now. Lowestoft & Oulton Broad Motor Boat Club (or LOBMBC, the world’s oldest motorboat racing venue) has seen bumper fields this season for their regular Thursday night race meetings, and with their large spectator area and great location this coming weekend has everything set to provide two great days of racing and family entertainment.

The action takes place on Sunday and Monday at LOBMBC, Nicholas Everitt Park in Lowestoft. If you haven’t done so before, come down and see what we’re all about – and feel free to say hello if you see me about!

Bryan

Powerboat GP Photographer

Seconds out, Round Two…

I love the night before a race weekend. Sitting here in my living room, I am surrounded by lenses, memory cards, and the flashing lights of charging camera batteries, and the anticipation is building. For me, a race weekend is so much more than qualifying and three heats. As I write, most of the competitors are already at Carr Mill, and with the action on the water scheduled to start at 10am tomorrow, I am planning my arrival at the clubhouse for around 8am. This is one of my favourite times to shoot. The early morning light (weather dependant of course) and attention to detail that the teams exhibit in their tents can make for some really interesting compositions. It is also a time that allows for the more social element of my weekend.

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During racing, the teams all tend to be very busy. The structure of the weekend means that once a particular class has been out on the water their boats are recovered to the pits, any necessary work is done to prepare for the next heat, and then there is often very little time before the boats have to be launched again. The early mornings are an opportunity to talk to people. A time when, in my experience, there is (a little) less pressure on.

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Come 10am tomorrow, adrenaline levels will rise, noise levels will rise, and the woodland around Carr Mill Dam will echo with the sound of outboard motors as the competitors set about the task of establishing themselves at the right end of the jetty ahead of Heat 1. Carr Mill is a long way to travel for some people. So far that they only race there once a year. Others, race there month in month out. Will home advantage play a part? What role will the weather play in proceedings? Only time will tell I guess. I’m ready to find out.

Bring on the 2016 Powerboat GP Lancashire Grand Prix.

Bryan

The Curtain Raiser…

Camera bag packed. Car ready. Tomorrow I leave for Lowestoft. This will be my third visit to Nicholas Everitt Park with Powerboat GP and I am still learning how best to use the venue to my advantage. I have already established from previous years that following the boats up to the top buoy means you are shooting into the light and as with every race I go to this will play a part in shaping my itinerary for the weekend.

When I arrive the dry pits will already be set up, and most, if not all competitors will be in situ, preparing their boats for Sunday’s first timed session. I always enjoy the first walk around the pits, especially at the first race of the year. The teams are a close-knit bunch, but with their bases spread far and wide around the UK it is possible that some people in the pits haven’t seen each other since last year’s finale at Stewartby. This time gives me a great opportunity to get some candid portrait shots. For me, posed photo’s are great when they are shot for a purpose, but raw emotion or concentration are difficult to force.

Next on my agenda is a scout of the area. Quite often, not a lot changes from one year to the next, but sometimes something does and I always like to familiarise myself with the site before any boats take to the water. It is also possible that having only been twice before, there may be something that I have missed in the past that I could use to my advantage. I always try to give my shots something that makes them stand out from the rest. This could be making use of something in the background or foreground, using elevation to get a different angle on the boats, or simply finding places where there are no other photographers.

This of course isn’t always possible, and sometimes you will find me standing not too far away from other snappers at the water’s edge. But never for long. I get what I can and move on, find somewhere else. As much as anything else it makes the processing job at the end of the day a lot less dull. I can take upwards of 1200 shots in a day. Even if I shoot from 3 locations this gives me three lots of 400 photo’s with near-identical backgrounds to sift through. That can get tedious.

I always try to make a point of introducing myself to other photographers at a race. No-one knows an area like a local, and of course I am more than happily return the favour at my local venue, Carr Mill, where Round 2 will be played out at the end of May.

I am looking forward to this weekend. I know that the drivers, teams and officials are looking forward to it too. 7 months is a long time with no racing. 12pm Sunday can’t come soon enough.

Bryan
Powerboat GP Photographer

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