Favreau captures spirit of sailing

French photographer Christophe Favreau is well-known around the world for his incredible sailing shots, with a particular affinity for 18 footers.

Photography by Christophe Favreau

09 May 2022


Two months ago, Christophe Favreau believed he wouldn’t make it to Sydney for the 2022 JJ Giltinan 18 footer Championship due to COVID restrictions.

However, Favreau’s visa was approved to promote the JJ Giltinan Championship as “a symbol of what can be sailing sport in Australia”, highlighting his decorated skills as a photographer.

Favreau made it Down Under to cover the world’s biggest annual 18 footer event for a leading French sailing magazine as well as video work for the weekly international Sailing World On Water program.

When asked to reflect on his visits to Australia, Christophe recalled, “I first came in 2006, as I was invited by the French team (Groupe Sefico, run by Christophe Orion, Philippe Vallée and Eric Caiveau.)

“They were staying at Woody’s place and the Winnings invited me to stay with them, which made my trip very special. I was used to the European circuit but discovering the intensity of the 18 foot skiff sailing in Sydney Harbour was a very unique experience,” he continued.


“The 2006 JJ wasn’t very windy except on 25 February, the day before I had to go back to France, and I was lucky enough to get a good shot of Rag and Famish flying in a good north-easter.

“This was a true revelation for me. Seeing those incredible machines flying on the water gave me the feeling that it was really the ultimate sailing. I also really enjoyed the Class atmosphere, full of true characters and intense people.

“I then came back every year, except two or three times for personal reasons. So, this year was my 14th JJ.”

Favreau then worked to establish himself throughout 2006 and 2007.

“I got invited to San Francisco in 2008 by Howard Hamlin, who told me he’d give me helicopter time if I came.

“Flying upon (or under) the Golden Gate Bridge, shooting or filming those flying machines in San Francisco Bay was a super exciting challenge and of course I came, even if it was a foggy edition where I just saw the pilon of the iconic bridge.

“I must have gone there nearly ten times I would say,” he commented.

“The 18 in San Fran is a pretty unique package, especially with the Bridge to Bridge race which is sailed between the Golden Gate and the Oakland Bay Bridge and who is reuniting any kind of fast sailing boats including foiling ones, like kites and windsurfing boards. Howie won it several times.”

Despite his time in Australia and the United States, Europe was the first place Favreau began to follow the 18s.

“I started to follow the European circuit in 2005. It was pretty active in those days and we were regularly having fleets of around 15 and 20 boats.

“The destinations I particularly remember were Campione Del Garda in Italy and Carnac in France. Two amazing spots. Sonderborg in Denmark was amazing too. Six-Fours in South of France in 2007 was a great venue also,” he added.

“The European circuit I was following was really exciting and full of passionate people that were a very friendly international family, reunited by the taste of extreme sailing.

“The fact Aussies and Americans where regularly joining was also great value to the circuit, which is still running.”

When asked about his 2022 visit to Australia, Favreau commented, “This trip has surely been the most humid I have experienced, and I’ve been coming nearly every year since 2006.

“Two years ago, it was fires, now heavy rains and floods. Australia is definitely a land of extremes. Of course, I hope for better weather in 2023, but this year has been a source of dramatic pictures of 18 footers under some severe storms, which is always spectacular.”

Despite the weather, the results produced by Heinrich Von Bayern and the Martin brothers were pleasing for Favreau.

“It was great to see the Germans perform as they did,” he said.

“The international pandemic has made the presence of foreign teams very low this year as there was just another team from Denmark racing the JJ Giltinan. I like to see that we’re still able to be competitive in Europe and that the European circuit is still alive.

“I wish the San Francisco event would come back also, as it’s surely one of the best 18 foot skiff regattas, in such an iconic and windy place.

“For me, the 18 footers are made to race in some very special places like Sydney Harbour, Garda Lake in Italy and Quiberon’s Bay in France. I have covered the international circuit when it was at its best and that was amazing.”

With such incredible experience under his belt, it’s evident Favreau’s photography is wide ranging. And after all these years, his passion for the art has never changed.

“The beauty of photography is that you can work on an infinity of subjects,” he reflected.

“Even if I’m really focused on sailing, I also like portraits and architecture too. Landscape is also very nice to shoot as it’s usually linked to travel and the discovery of new places.”

For Favreau, one of those places is Sydney. In particular, his photographs showcase a particular infinity for the Sydney Opera House.

“The Sydney Opera House is surely the best-known icon in Australia,” he said.

“I really love that building which gives the city her identity, makes it very special. It looks like some full spinnakers on some angles, which gives iconic sailing shots opportunities when you can put some boats in the frame with the Opera House.”

The Australian 18 footer community love to see Favreau back in Sydney each year and with the worst of the pandemic behind us, upcoming JJ Giltinan Championships will hopefully have a similar feel to the days before COVID.

The local fleet now includes young and experienced international sailing talent who are ready to take on challengers from other Australian states, traditional rivals from New Zealand and the best from Europe.

The 2023 JJ Giltinan Championship will return in 2023, with dates to be announced.



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