He has two passions: telling stories, and the ocean. So when Dongfeng OBR Yann Riou had to step off the boat just before Leg 3, Sam jumped at the opportunity to fill in for the Frenchman.
Sam went on to sail three legs in the 2014-15 edition, including the team's homecoming victory into Sanya, and he certainly made his mark in a short time, winning third place in the Inmarsat OBR Awards for his work. Here are his picks...
January 8, 2015. Leg 3 from Abu Dhabi to Sanya.
The email to the boat caught me off guard. “Sam, today is a very sad day for France.” I’d never heard of Charlie Hebdo, nor was I French like six of the sailors onboard, but the wheres and whens didn’t really matter. Twelve people were dead and all 9 of us onboard were shocked. The sailors usually don’t jump at me to take photos, especially Charles, but today was the exception. “I want you to take a photo for me,” he said, after reading the email to the boat himself.
April 29, 2015. Leg 6 from Itajaí to Newport.
My goal with this photo was simple, but the execution took a bit of… um, trust. Maybe that’s not the right word. I wanted to take a POV photo that made the viewer feel like they were standing at the helm of a Volvo Ocean 65 as it ripped across waves in deep ocean. The problem was that in order to take it, I had to hold a camera on the sailor's chin while the boat was trucking along at more than 20 knots. POV shots from the top of the head never look right. So there I stood, leaning on Kevin Escoffier, one arm across his back to brace myself, the other pressing a tiny GoPro up against his chin while he tried to focus on keeping the boat in first place as we raced from Brazil to Newport. Thanks, Kevin.
February 20, 2015. Leg 4 from Sanya to Auckland.
I chose this photo because it shows both sides of life on the boat: the driven streaks of intense focus, and the serenity of taking your first shower in 14 days, with one hell of a view.
February 12, 2015. Leg 4 from Sanya to Auckland.
This was the first still photo I took with an aerial drone, a Phantom 2+ with a GoPro Hero3+ black. I was too nervous to use my only Hero4 in the likely chance I lost her in the sea. I immediately regretted not risking the Hero4 when I saw the difference in quality (this one is quite low), but it was the first time a photo had been captured from high above a Volvo Ocean 65 but shot from onboard. The other alternative was a helicopter, but those can’t really go 2,000 nm offshore.
January 26, 2015. Leg 3 from Abu Dhabi to Sanya.
This is one of my favorite photos of the race, and not because it’s going to win any awards or was particularly difficult to take, but because of the look on Kit’s face. It was the last sunrise of Leg 3 and we were leading the leg into the team’s homeport of Sanya, China. Kit, who is 32, had been told before the beginning of the race that he’d never get to sail a leg because the only rookie spots would go to Under 30s. His parents – his father especially - had told him he was wasting his time chasing a lost cause. Then Charles let Kit onboard for Leg 3. Just the day before, Kit had spoken with his family on a Live-X and they were all waiting for him to arrive in Sanya. After watching him win the leg from Abu Dhabi to Sanya they’d changed their mind about his mission and extended their total love and support. This was the face of a man who’d lived his dream.
Check out the selections of OBR Yann here.