Zapcat Racing At Barry Island 2012

Every year, Zapcat Racing spends a weekend down at Barry Island. These are lightweight boats which race at high speeds fairly close to the shoreline. They usually throw up a lot of spray and occasionally take off so make for a fun subject to photograph. I’ve been down to Barry for the racing for the past two years and headed off to make it a hattrick.

After a bag of chips at Boofy’s (Gavin & Stacey’s favourite chippy no less) I headed down to the beach on the Saturday afternoon. This year the course was spread right across the beach meaning that there were plenty of places to try and take shots. The biggest problem was the tide coming in – having already lost one camera to Davy Jone’s Locker there’s no way I’m going to stand in the water for a photo. One guy – possibly the official photographer – was up to his knees so hopefully he had a waterproof set up.

The problem with the tide is as it’s coming in you have to move back – but the racing stays in the same place. So even at 400mm focal length it can be a job to pick up some close ups.

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Photo wise I wanted something different from previous years. I’ve taken plenty of shots like the above, which are fine but can get a little bit too repetitive. Unfortunately with Zapcats you need to take quite a few shots as you never ever know when one is going to decide to lift off!

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In fact the best photos (at least in my view) came when the Zapcat racers were waiting for the green flag to race. At the start line one guy stands in the water holding the boat. When the flag is waved then they all pile in and race. That’s great if the sea is nice and flat – and at times on Saturday afternoon it did get a little choppy.

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In between the racing action I also took a few candid shots of the racers. I don’t like to be intrusive with the camera and will always keep a nice distance from the competitors. I also like to avoid getting any other beach goers in the shot. The shots below are a couple of my favourites.

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If you’re thinking of taking photos of Zapcat Racing then be prepared for a long day and a lot of photos. I only did a couple of hours and ended up with over 400 shots. On burst mode or sports mode it’s quite easy to notch up a lot of images. Barry Island is a good location as you can move up and down the beach so it’s worth experimenting on the best position. Keep an eye on the official photographers too and watch where they’re looking!

You will need a long lens unless you’re happy taking shots of the boats and racers whilst they’re waiting onshore. For the action shots you will need to be able to zoom out. If you’re going in the water then do make sure your gear is waterproof!

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There’s of course an element of luck involved with sports photography. You just never know if something exciting is going to happen – or if the next race will just be a bit of a procession. After leaving the beach, thinking the last race had finished, and to go and grab a much needed coffee at Marco’s – the course was moved slightly nearer inland and a couple of races held. They may well have resulted in some better shots… and at least another 100 to look through.

Zapcat Racing – Barry Island 2012 – Photoset
Zapcat Racing – Barry Island 2011 – Photoset
Zapcat Racing – Barry Island 2010 – Photoset

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