The problem with sailing is that there are no personalities. Of course that isn’t to say that those who are at the top of the sport aren’t varied characters or that they don’t have what it takes to be as recognisable by the sporting public, it’s more that the PR machines and marketing people often fail to promote the people of the sport. More often than not, the boat name will appear in the press before the skipper’s. The Olympic classes do it a little better – because at the end of the day, it is a person that wears a medal around their neck.
Team GBR sponsor, Skandia, has come up with a nice little campaign to promote the people of Skandia Team GBR. Robert Wilson has created a portfolio of stunning images of Britain’s national sailing team at the Olympic 2012 venue in Weymouth and Portland, Dorset. Featuring gold medallists Ben Ainslie, Iain Percy, Andrew Simpson, Pippa Wilson and Paul Goodison, the images will be displayed in a striking exhibition, entitled ‘Blown Away,’ at London’s gallery@oxo from 30 September until 4 October 2009.
For five days Wilson and Art Director Greg Horton immersed themselves in a Skandia Team GBR training camp at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy, giving them ‘behind-the-scenes’ access to 14 of Britain’s top sailors as they embarked on the path to gold medal glory. Heavily featured were an array of the world’s best sailors, including Britain’s top medallists and Skandia Team GBR’s young hopefuls.
Impressed by the powerful imagery that Wilson created on his visit to Helmand province of Afghanistan with the British Army’s 52nd Infantry Brigade in 2006, Skandia saw the opportunity to portray world-class sailing in a way that has seldom been seen before.
Skandia Sponsorship Manager Tim Sewell commented:
We wanted images that showed how dynamic and extreme sailing at this level is and we are delighted with Robert’s work. His pictures not only show the athleticism and commitment of the sailors on the water but he has captured the team spirit that exists within the group as a whole – elements that underpin their success and make them the best in the world.
Through a combination of his trademark evocative portrait shots, vibrant and surreal imagery taken using slower shutter speeds and highly detailed action shots, Robert Wilson has created a set of powerful images that capture the varied and demanding nature of Olympic classes sailing and the personalities of those involved.
‘What struck me most about the sailors was the physical demand placed upon them and their ability to adapt to the constantly changing parameters that they have to work with. They are always on the move, adjusting every part of their bodies for balance and trim as the wind and waves change around them. It seemed that a strong friendship exists within the Skandia Team GBR setup and their teamwork is second to none. ‘It was a pleasure to work with sportsmen and women who are at the top of their game and yet don’t have an inflated ego. They were all so welcoming and enthusiastic towards all aspects of the shoot. It was a great challenge to try and portray the intensity and professionalism of this remarkable group of people in an exciting and original fashion.’
Triple Olympic Gold Medallist Ben Ainslie said:
To compete at the highest level requires a lot of hard work and dedication as a team. We have to put in the hours whatever the weather and the images really capture this. We are all looking forward to seeing the exhibition.
We look forward to seeing the exhibition, but not too sure about the name. It’s a clever pun for sure but unless the organisers are making a direct comparison with Olympic sailing and serving in Helmand province Afganistan, it seems like the wrong phrase to be using about the GBR Team. Surely ‘blown away’ should relate to their competition rather than the team – or perhaps it is supposed to relate to the gallery viewer’s experience.