Sailing Photography

Sailing Photography and Volvo Ocean Race: Capturing Your Ocean Adventure


OBR Team Leader Brian Carlin shares some insight into how his team capture the exhilarating content of the Volvo Ocean Race, and how this can be useful when it comes to capturing your next adventure.

How did you get into adventure photography/videography?

I studied architecture in college, worked for six years but then decided I’d like to be a sailing photographer. The learning process wasn’t easy, and truth be told, I wasn’t very good at it to begin with, but my determination was stronger than my desire to just give up. I’d actually say I was really stubborn and ignored the advice of a lot of people that told me I’d never make it in this business. When someone tells me I can’t or won’t be able to do something, I try to prove them wrong, so after six years working every opportunity, pushing myself as an individual and sacrificing a considerable amount of my personal life, I’m here today, doing what I’ve work so hard to build. 

Why is adventure videography and photography so important to you?

It’s important to be a part of history; I’ve always liked to push hard and try different things, and adventure photo/videography is just the ticket for such a challenge.

Explain your current role with the Volvo Ocean Race.

I’m responsible for the recruiting and training of this years’ On-Board Reporters, who sail on-board the VO65 yachts. 

The role varies from logistics, training, certification (Sea Survival, Medical etc.), working with OBRs and teams to find the best fit for each team and choosing who sails on which boat on each leg; we now rotate OBRs to keep the story fresh whilst allowing the OBRs to take a leg off to recuperate. I’m also responsible for supplying camera equipment, liaising with all the skippers and team pros to provide guidance on the role of the OBR and handle the teams’ individual sponsor requirements. I also arrange live calls and while back in Alicante HQ, I’m there to support the OBRs at sea from technical issues to personal ones. In a nutshell, I manage the group of nine OBRs from Alicante whilst they are at sea and travel to each stopover to help debrief at the end of each leg.

What is your most memorable piece of Volvo Ocean Race content so far?

I think the start is always the best part of any race, it’s full of the unknown and you cannot beat the atmosphere on race morning. Alicante has huge support locally but also from all the family and friends who have travelled the length of the globe for front row views of what’s probably the most spectacular team sailing event in the world.

What preparation is needed before heading out on an ocean adventure?

Preparation: that’s a funny one. Besides the obvious survival training, having lots of miles at sea and your camera kit, it’s getting your head into the game. It’s a long time on the ocean waves and mental preparation is difficult. I think it’s fair to say most if not all OBRs fear getting stuck for a story or repeating the same topic twice – it’s only 65 feet of boat and you have eight or nine characters for nine months at sea –therein lies the challenge.

Sailing Photography


Your objective on the Volvo Ocean Race is to ‘give the fans on shore a taste of what life at the extreme is really like, warts and all’. What kit do you have on board to do this and why have you chosen those specific bits?

Well it’s as simple as having your camera kit and sailing kit. We have an array of cameras from Garmin 360, POV cams, on-board cams, Canon and Sony for high picture quality and HD content. DJI Drones were new in the last edition, but every OBR is equipped with drones this edition to ensure some very unique angles we’ve had little of in the past.   

Outside of the cameras there’s two more items of kit: your sleeping bag and your wet weather kit. This race throws a load of different elements at you and you need to have the right gear. When it’s hot you need wicking material and SPF technical tops, when it’s cold, Musto’s HPX GORE-TEX© Pro Series Smock with its full collar and neck seal keeps you dry when its wet on deck. Along with some Extreme Thermal Fleece Top and Trouser to keep you toasty inside. The biggest struggle while sailing across oceans is keeping dry, and the range of Musto clothing we have is essential to comfort. It’s simple: when you’re wet, too hot or sunburnt, you’re just not going to be doing the best job you can.

Accidents happen, and out at sea it is difficult to upload to the cloud. What top tips do you have for making sure that prized content is always safe?

Accidents certainly do happen and I always recommend that you backup your backups and keep the drives of all your material in water and shockproof Pelican cases.  

What do you look out for when capturing an ocean adventure?

It’s all about showing the vastness of the planet, lots of people have travelled around the world but very few get to cross the blue lungs of planet earth.  

How do you make sure you are always ready to capture the most extreme moment?

It’s about anticipation; it’s not something you can learn, more that it’s perceived. Time on the ocean and knowing your environment can prepare you for these moments.


Musto MPX Sailing Collection

On Board reporters

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In your opinion what makes a top adventure photograph? How can this be achieved?

Perseverance and time doing it. It’s about being aware of your environment and playing a game of snooker, it’s not the first shot, but thinking a couple of shots ahead that puts you in the right place for a winning finish.  

Having a visual reminder of your adventures is great. How do you recommend making the most of your pictures post adventure?

I enjoy getting the best images printed and framed. I give them to family and friends, so when you call around to a friend’s house you haven’t seen in a while, it’s a nice reminder of what you have achieved and a reminder that people can achieve anything they want if the will is strong enough.


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