These are the exceptional job request. Are you around to do the aerial photography for the inaugural Abu Dhabi triathlon? Done quite a few aerial assignments before and it’s one of these things you can never get enough off.
The gruelling Ironman course was slightly adjusted to a 3k swim, 200k bike and half marathon at the end. Still long, still very hard. Lot’s of international favourites flew to Abu Dhabi to hopefully cash in the price money and a big crowd of local athletes testing their abilities for all sorts of other reasons. For me getting involved was a way to relive the my Ironman experience when I completed the Ironman in France last summer. Regardless of how much training you put in…it’s gonna be a long day, with many highs and lows, pain, but the remembrance of crossing the finish line still gives me goose bumps.
The past mornings had been very foggy, till 9ish when the sun comes up and burns it away. Helicopter flights and fog don’t go well together and we where hoping for clear skies so we could be airbourne for the 7am start. Race day, I left the house at 3am to be on site for 5am, arrived with an amazing clear horizon. Off we go, ready to fly!
One thing I always find when strapped into a harness and hanging out of a helicopter, is that this is not the place to change lenses… With assignments like this, I will shoot angels ranging from ultra wide 16m to mega long 400m. Canon Professional Services (CPS) kindly let me test run their latest flagship product the EOS 1d Mark 4. Now equipped with four bodies attached to a 16-35, 70-200, 300 and 400mm lens no opportunity will be missed. All lenses nice wide f2,8 apperture which I really needed with the race starting at the crack of dawn.
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Another useful tip is to get some radio comm’s with the ground team. We manage to shoot an awesome start hovering low over the Emirates Palace’s private beach. Trailed the pro’s for the first lap and getting ready to shoot the second wave. I noticed that a bunch of safety kayakers kept on falling out of their kayaks, that’s odd…I’m sure they know what they are doing. It was only after about 15 minutes that the pilot got on the intercom and mentioned that he received orders from the airport control tower to fly higher. Apparently the helicopter was the reason why all the boats where tipping. Sorry guys for knocking you over…! Back at base I checked my phone and indeed lot’s of missed calls and text messages saying ‘fly higher!! fly higher!!’ For next year let’s get a radio.
The bike course followed the Abu Dhabi Cornish, crossing the new Shk Kalifa bridge before the athletes got onto the Yas Marina Circuit. How cool is this…getting to bike the full Abu Dhabi Formula One circuit. I’m sure this rush will elevate the saddle pain. Back on the Cornish the bikes where traded in for running shoes, only two 10k laps.
The inaugural Adu Dhabi Tri was a great success with the Spaniard Enoke Llianos taking home the glory. …for the other I’m sure lots of very very sore muscles.