Image Of The Week: Key West Migration

Staring tomorrow, groups of high-performance powerboats led by the Florida Powerboat Club will leave Sea Isle Marina in Miami and head south for Key West. The daily parade will continue on Wednesday and it will peak on Thursday with up to 100 boats. By the time the last group reaches Key West on Friday afternoon, more than 150 go-fast boat will have pulled into town.

imageweek30hugeEvery year in early November, high-performance powerboats migrate to Key West. Photo courtesy/copyright Jay Nichols/Naples Image.

The Key West Poker Run, combined with the Super Boat International Key West Offshore World Championships is by most accounts the biggest economic week of the city’s year. In addition to the hundreds of folks who come down on the go-fast pleasure boats and the racers and crews for 50-plus offshore racing teams, thousands of powerboat enthusiasts from around the country head to Key West by car and plane for the week and what has become high-performance boating’s longest—and loudest—party.

Most hotels sell out. Bars and restaurants pack them in. Walking down the Duvall Street, ground zero for the nonstop revelry, anytime after dark is a shoulder-to-shoulder, sometimes wobbly affair.

The crowds that fill Mallory Square and the surrounding viewing areas and bars and restaurants when the races happen Wednesday, Friday and Sunday cheer the raceboats as they roar by. But the real cheer you find in Key West this week has to do with people who share a common interest, speed on the water if you will, coming together and celebrating their shared passion.

That’s the magic of Key West this week—not the poker run, not the offshore racing, but the people who love it all so much that they just can’t stay away. It’s as if they are programmed by evolution to be there. And so for one week just before winter really starts to take hold, they migrate to Key West.

Image of the Week: Sandy's Fury Begins

The full force of Hurricane Sandy, a Category 1 storm with sustained winds of 85 mph, hasn’t slammed the Northeast just yet, but it’s already showing a few frightening hints of its power and foreshadowing things to come.

Photographer Tim Sharkey captured this image late yesterday afternoon of a giant wave “swallowing” a jetty on the New Jersey Shore. In the process of getting the shot, Sharkey almost got inhaled by the sea as well.

imageweek29hugeHurricane Sandy inhales a jetty on the Jersey Shore. Photo courtesy/copyright Tim Sharkey/Sharkey Images.

“I got caught under a wave today,” he said. “I dropped down between the rocks and ducked the best I could. But it was so worth getting the shots from that moment.” is grateful for this image from Sharkey. We are even more pleased he is now safely sheltered and waiting for Sandy’s full fury. To the rest of our friends in the path of the storm, we wish you the best and will be thinking of you. Stay sheltered and take no chances.

We’ll see you on the other side.

Image of the Week, Part II: Wind Tunnel in Jupiter

From the late Tom Newby to Jay Nichols, top-notch high-performance powerboat photographers have tried to capture the perfect tunnel shot"—an image that gives the viewer a look straight down the tunnel of an onrushing catamaran for years. Done well, photos from that angle of oncoming cats are exhilarating, and even a little scary.

There are two basic ways to capture a tunnel shot. Newby used to attach his camera, with a moderately wide-angle lens and a remote trigger, to a long pole, lower it in front of the moving boat and snap the shot. Of course, the shot also required a helicopter and a pilot skilled enough to put Newby and his camera where they needed to be. And the driver of the catamaran had to hold a constant speed of 60 mph or less.

imageweek28hugeCintrong coming at you. Photo courtesy/copyright Jay Nichols/Naples Image.

The other way to get a tunnel shot is from the water-level with a long angle lens, and that’s exactly what ace photographer Jay Nichols did here to capture Cintron during last weekend’s Offshore Powerboat Association World Championships in Jupiter, Fla.

The long lens brings both Cintron and the yacht in the background closer to the photographer and one another than they actually are. Nichols was in no immediate danger of getting run down, despite that the photo makes it appear that the big catamaran is almost right on top of him.

Combine the angle, the lens and Nichols’ trademark PhotoShop wizardry and the result is spectacular.

Image of the Week, Part I: Deck to Deck in Jupiter

Close racing is good racing, and offshore powerboat racing is no exception. Except in offshore racing, rubbing definitely isn’t racing. Fiberglass-to-fiberglass contact in machines that weigh tons and run more than 100 mph in ever-changing water is a recipe for disaster.

So how close is too close? Simple—too close means contact. The rest is just, well, close.

imageweek27hugeAmsoil and got cozy at the OPA Wolrds last weekend. Photo courtesy/copyright Tim Sharkey/Sharkey Images.

This image by sharpshooting photographer Tim Sharkey from the Offshore Powerboat Association World Championships last weekend in Jupiter, Fla., of the Super Cat Light class battle between Amsoil and shows just how close that close can be. It’s hard to know where one Skater catamaran starts and the other ends.

From Sharkey’s angle with the silver boat in the foreground it looks like Amsoil—the high-performance synthetic lubricant company was title sponsor for the 2012 OPA Offshore Powerboat Series—has a sponson tip on Or does it? Either way, this spectacular image defines deck-to-deck racing.

Editor's Note: Image of the Week, Part II: Down the Tunnel in Jupiter, will go live on Friday, October 25.

Image of the Week: Fall Color, Florida Style

Foliage—or the lack of it—doesn’t necessarily determine fall color, at least the kind showcased in last week’s Image of the Week. Just ask photographer Jay Nichols and the crew from Fort Myers Offshore, a go-fast boat club based on the west coast of Florida.

“At a time when the “season’s over” and winterizing threads start appearing on the boating message board websites, Fort Myers Offshore is just getting geared up,” said Nichols, who captured this water-level image on a dead-calm, early October day. “Our first run of the club’s seventh season came on a beautiful, calm and sunny day in Southwest Florida.”

imageweek26hugeYou don't need turning leaves for pretty fall color, at least in Southwest Florida. Photo courtesy/copyright Jay Nichols/Naples Image.

With a destination of the Naples Bay Resort for lunch, the run started at the Sanibel Bridge and wound its way to Gordon Pass and the Intracoastal Waterway. Spectacular setting on a spectacular day, but not exactly the kind of place you’d expect to find fall color.

No matter. The club brought plenty of its own.

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Image of the Week: Fall Colors