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Dec. 13, 2018
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Getting real: ‘Salts on Lanier’ gets up close to the racing action

By Pamela A. Keene
 
Lights. Camera. Action. Reality TV comes to Lake Lanier’s sailing community, thanks to Brian Clark, owner of Local Flavor Films and Photography. And the stars? Sailboat racers on Lake Lanier.
 
“We’re looking to tell some great stories out there on the lake, especially with a lot of the personalities on the water who regularly sail and race,” said Brian Clark, owner of Local Flavor, based in Cumming. “Our goal is to highlight the sport of sailing, the way ‘Deadliest Catch,’ and ‘Ice Road Truckers’ brings people right into the actions and lives of these real people.” 
 
The 40-year-old Clark and producer Kelly Galles will direct filming of more than 30 races during 2017, starting with the Lanier Auxiliary Racing Committee winter series. Members of all five sailing clubs on the lake participate in the LARC races that consist of a winter series at the first of the year and a fall series next autumn. Additionally, the Atlanta Inland Sailing Club’s 20-race April to September races will be featured.
 
“We’ll also shoot all the major regattas on the lake, weather permitting, with the goal of putting together 10 to 12 episodes that will be available on YouTube,” he said. “We’re getting a number of hours of shooting under our belts and will be showing the first episodes in April.” 
 
Moving south
Clark, no stranger to boating, grew up on Lake Winnipesaukee, N.H., where he fell in love with the water. While in New England, he sailed Hobie Catamarans and as crew on a Pearson 30. To escape the cold, he moved to Atlanta in 1994 with some high school friends. They found success with a band playing fraternity parties, the college circuit and Buckhead bars. Clark was the business manager.
 
“I gave up sailing for about 10 years and during that time I started Local Flavor,” he said. “We worked with lots of the recording studios making videos and brokering band management services. I learned about the technical side of video and photography.” 
 
He worked with bands and became further immersed in the film business, taking his hobby of photography into a career. Spending a couple of years in Colorado, he worked on a reality show based in Steamboat Springs called “Ski Town USA.” “I shot a lot of the footage about life on the slopes, but it never aired,” he said. “It was a great experience working on a reality-based program that showed what goes on in ski towns from a local point of view.”
 
Georgia drew him back to the water and sailing in 2014. Soon he discovered the Lake Lanier sailing community and the Atlanta Inland Sailing Club Wednesday night races. “People found out that I was a photographer so I began shooting races and regatta and selling my work. I soon found out that I’d rather have the friendships of the people at the lake than to sell them photos.” 
 
Reality TV idea
He began sailing with the late Paul Warner, long-time racer and owner of the competitive Shazam, a dark-blue Capri 25. After Warner died of cancer, Clark joined the crew of Jim Chambers’ Snow Fox, a Corsair F-24 MK II. He also owns a Cal 27 that he and Kelly mostly use for cruising. 
 
“Around the end of 2015, I started thinking about doing a really-based show on Lake Lanier that focused on sailing, one that would focus on the regulars on the lake – their racing and their personalities,” he said. “I put out a call to see if sailors were interested in being part of this, looking for skippers and crews who weren’t afraid to see themselves on film at the end of the day.” 
 
Several folks stepped up and welcomed Clark and his film crews – chiefly interns in programs at Georgia State University, the University of Georgia and the university of North Georgia – to become eyes, ears and impartial observers during races. Skippers John McCarthy on Iniki, a Soverel 33; Dana Stewart on Lady J, a J-24; Rob Whitley and Tom Sawchuk, who both race several types of craft.

Sawchuk is a key member of a Lake Lanier Melges 24 that campaigned for the World Championship in 2016 and finished 11th in the Corinthian division. They’ve already begun the 2017 campaign.  “It’s fantastic what Brian is doing to let people know about the sport,” Sawchuk said. “He came with us to worlds and shot photos. What he’s doing with ‘Salts of Lanier’ is giving people who have never been on a sailboat a completely different perspective of the sport and what it’s like – the harmonies, the synchronicity and the intensity, and what really happens on the boat in the heat of a race.”
 
Sailing community exposure
McCarthy said he and his crew have welcomed the chance to be part of “Salts of Lanier.” “It’s not only fun, but it’s yet another chance to let the Atlanta area know that there’s competitive racing and sailing on Lanier,” McCarthy said. Kelly is their regular production crew. “She’s really good at anticipating what needs to be done and staying out of the way, in a good way. We’ve already learned to forget that she’s there, which makes it good for filming and for us. 
 
The guidelines for the film crews are specific. “We’re all about safety first,” Clark said. “Many of our photographers have never been on a sailboat before, so it’s a learning curve for them. I tell them that if a skipper tells them to do something, they need to do it because the skipper knows the boat and the sport. But at the same time, our crews are there to shoot video, so they’re supposed to be invisible on the boat and as much as they can to stay out of the way. 
 
“It’s a tight space to operate in, but that’s also part of the appeal of shooting races,” he said. Local Flavors has added some different perspectives to their shoots; they’re filming from other boats and focusing on their subjects. “We’re also shooting from the race committee boat that’s situated at the start and finish of each race, and we’re doing more shots of mark roundings throughout the race.”
 
Clark belongs to several of the lake’s sailing clubs, including Lake Lanier Sailing, Barefoot and Southern. “Each of the clubs has something to offer to people interested in sailing, racing or cruising, so it’s a nice mix,” he said. “The sailing community is very tight-knit and close. And we are excited to be able to capture the personalities and the challenges of sailing.”
 
His vision is two-fold: to shop his concert and the show to a network and to promote sailing. “In some ways, the sport has faded a little locally, and we want to get more of the younger generation into it,” Clark said. “There’s so much more when you’re actually on the boat than when you’re watching racing from the shore.”
 
Clark’s YouTube channel is YouTube/localflavorphotography and his website is www.lakelanierevents.com.

Posted online 1/30/17
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