Love, sailing & photos

When Mary Longpre filled out her photographer credential for the upcoming America’s Cup, she submitted information about an important project.

Longpre, a Newport Beach resident and a Balboa Yacht Club member, will be in the process of completing a book of photos of her experiences at the grand regatta that takes place in San Francisco Bay this year.

This will be her ninth America’s Cup that she will cover as a photographer. Her first America’s Cup was in 1987, when, for the first time, the event, that has the oldest trophy in international sport, took place in Australia.

“In 1987, was when I started on America’s Cup and there has been four styles since, starting with the monohull,” Longpre said. “And now we have the multihull. It’s a good place to end the book and show how the America’s Cup has developed through the years.”

Longpre has enough material to produce several books of different regattas she has shot.

She has been a fixture at the Governor’s Cup at BYC, where the international junior regatta completed its 47th year last month.

She usually shoots the Festival of Sails in Australia in January too.

Longpre isn’t just about photography. She also races. She’s been racing for 36 years.

She has always had a love for the ocean, as she grew up in Capistrano Beach, where she became a surfer.

She met her husband, Bob, at Orange Coast College. They will celebrate their 49th anniversary in November.

Bob is the main reason Longpre got into sailing.

“I wanted to learn how to do it because he was out there all the time and I never got to see him,” Longpre said. “I learned a lot from him.”

Longpre admits there can sometimes be tension between husband and wife while on a competitive boat. Eventually, Longpre went on her own to race, and sailed with a group of women she continues to sail with these days.

For the past 28 years, she’s been on her boat, “Valentine.” She named it such because her birthday falls on Feb. 14, Valentine’s Day.

When she’s not behind the camera, you can find her on “Valentine.” And sometimes she’s on there with her all-women crew that has competed and won their fair share of races throughout the years.

The women are her friends. Carolyn Di Orio, Pat Vrannicar, Linda Rasner and Jill Golden of the BYC are among them who compete with Longpre, as are Cheryl Lawlor and Shannon Carr.

“I have a real passion for it,” Longpre said of racing and sailing. “I just love being out there.”

Her husband will always be a sailor, but he no longer races.

“There’s enough competition for him in the business world,” she said of her husband who manages a car dealership in Westminster.

They had two children and now five grandkids.

Longpre’s children could be thought of as the source for her beginning with photography.

When they were little, she enjoyed taking photos of them. And continued to photograph their activities.

Longpre is an artist, and back when she first began photography she snapped shots of picturesque views that she could paint from.

She photographed sites she visited while traveling.

Eventually, others began asking for the photos and paying her to make into calendars. She realized she could make a career out of it.

That evolved into her still camera work with sailing.

Because of her own sailing experience she became a great photographer for races and became in demand.

She can anticipate a scene as a race unfolds. She also knows when to snap shots of the crew at work, the look on their faces, as they grind and compete.

This, too, has became a passion for her.

In addition to the America’s Cup book project, famous sailing writer Bob Fisher sought Longpre for photos to be packaged with a book about the boat, “It’s OK.” Longpre has several photos of It’s OK from the Newport-to-Ensenada race. She has 31 years of photos of that race.

Her photos will also be important as BYC continues to prepare for the 50th anniversary of the Governor’s Cup in three years.

For now, she’s all about the America’s Cup, Sept. 7-21.