RECYCLED 178: Rick Tomlinson

Rick Tomlinson is one of yachting’s most accomplished photographers. What I didn’t know before we met, was how accomplished he is as a sailor. Rick was a crew member on four consecutive Whitbread Races, and literally invented the modern concept of onboard reporter. Back in his day, Rick was an integral member of the sailing crew - he took photos onboard as a hobby, on his off-watches, and even developed film in the galley sink offshore! Mia and I traveled to Rick’s beautiful studio in Cowes on the Isle of Wight last September to chat about his career.

Show notes:

  • The podcast was recorded in Rick Tomlinson's studio in Cowes, Isle of Wight, UK
  • The change in technology through Rick's carear
  • How Rick got into sailing. Grew up in Isle of Man and basically the only way to get of that small island in the middle of the Irish Sea was to sail.
  • Rick in his early 20s met Nick Keig the trimaran Three legs of man who was doing the OSTAR race in the 80s. Rick flew over to help him bring the boat to the start and got introduced to yacht photography. 
  • Always been interested in sailing and photography. 
  • Had a passion to sail the Whitbread around the world already at a young age.
  • "It was all about the contacts and being in the right place the right time"
  • Rick sailed on Drum in the 1985 Fastnet Race when the keel broke off, just 2 month before the start of the Whitbread.
  • Started of with a basic Nikon and 20 rolls of film
  • The iconic photo when the "Drum is blasting downwind with dacron sails and a poled out jib in big waves, thats what the race was in those days"
  • "Magnus Olsson was one of the most fantastic people I ever known, he really is a fantastic character and such a great sailor." Rick & Mange Olsson did 4 Whitbread races together.
  • Skip Novak's boat Pelagic and the story behind how the idea came about to the first boat.
  • Brought his camera onboard Drum for the Whitbread, basically took photos and developed them while off watch.  
  • Developing photos in a 'dark room' with chemicals while at sea on Intrum Justitia in the Whitbread 1993/1994. He sent them in to land via a portable scanner they had brought along. "The crew probably thought I was going to poison them at first with all the chemicals"
  • Rick sailed the Whitbread onboard Drum (1985-1986), The Card (1989-1990), Intrum Justitia 1993-1994 and Team EF (1997-1998).
  • The work together with Hallberg-Rassy
  • Shooting film vs. digital photography
  • Drone photography, did some amazing drone photography and some filming during a trip in Svalbard.
  • Rick was the official photographer for Team SCA during the Volvo Ocean Race 2014/2015.
  • Do you take photos while on vacation? "Yes! I love taking pictures of anything."
  • One of Rick's latest projects was to photograph an old photo album of Shackleton. A friend of his bought it at an auction and Rick photographed it.
  • Chris Tibbs, a good friend who did the 1985 Whitbread. Rick will sail with him in the World ARC rally from the Galapagos. 
  • Having a family while traveling. Both Rick and his wife Annika worked for the Volvo and their son traveled with them. His son attended the Volvo Ocean Race traveling school at age 7.
  • Rick's work for National Geographic.
  • Rick's recommendation is his favorite book The Times World Atlas.

Websites to check out:

Photos by Rick Tomlinson: