Blown away: stunning new sailing images

A new photography exhibtion show's Britain's top sailors in action

Lucy de Butts
Sunday 23 October 2011 08:40

Critically acclaimed photographer Robert Wilson has produced a stunning set of images showcase the world's most successful national sailing team at work. 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.

"We wanted images that showed how dynamic and extreme sailing at this level is and we are delighted with Robert's work," Skandia sponsorship manager Tim Sewell said. "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," Wilson commented. "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."

He added, "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, who was photographed by Wilson, also discussed the project: "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."

Although primarily recognised in the industry for his portraiture, the London-born Wilson has diversified his work into shooting people in locations and landscapes. He has received a number of international awards and currently has several portraits in the permanent collection at both the Scottish and English National Portrait Galleries.

Wilson's latest personal project took him to Afghanistan, where he was shooting the people and places around Helmand Province, with the British Army 52 Brigade who were part of the NATO International Security Assistance Force mission. This latest work, titled Helmand was published in September 2008 through Jonathan Cape books, and an exhibition of the work titled Helmand - Faces of Conflict, is currently running until February 2010 at the Scottish National War Museum in Edinburgh.

Blown Away, a collection of Skandia Team GBR images shot by Robert Wilson will be exhibited at the gallery@oxo from 30 September to 4 October. The exhibition features gold medallists Ben Ainslie, Iain Percy, Andrew Simpson, Pippa Wilson and Paul Goodison.

A virtual gallery of all the images will be live from 30 September on

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments