The TV helicopter chasing Luna Rossa like in a 007 movie – The aerodynamic shape of the boats flying on the surface of the water attracts attention, but if you look up just above, you will feel like you are stepping into a James Bond action movie. Merit Tony Monk’s helicopter, the pilot of the seas, the man who constantly flies over the race course to film the challenge between Luna Rossa and Team New Zealand from above.

On board there are cameras and photographic lenses, and his son Blair, busy filming the race, his legs out of the helicopter, careful not to get unbalanced by the strong wind. The helicopter turns at low altitude, seems to “touch” the sails, then cuts diagonally to take the perfect angle of the turn, and does all this without obscuring the vision of the cameras scattered along the route or obstructing the boats. In the half hour in which the two crews are competing for victory, thehelicopter became the third element to follow for his stunts.

For some of the audience it is like watching a film, for others it is cause for apprehension, for fear that a wrong maneuver could cause an accident. “It’s normal for me,” Monk, the New Zealander driving the helicopter, explained to the New York Times, “I feel safer in flight than in a car.”

During the 2017 America’s Cup, in Bermuda, Luna Rossa’s current helmsman, Jimmy Spithill, blamed a defeat on the intrusiveness of the TV helicopter. The reason? “He had taken all the wind,” he said. Monk, who has been driving these aircraft for nearly forty years, thinks differently: “Most people see that we can only go forward, while boats can choose any direction.”

The pilot must observe a number of rules: cannot fly less than 800 meters away from spectators or any populated area and, of course, cannot be too close to the competing crews. The wind affects: when it is strong, it is allowed to fly closer, because the movement of the propellers does not affect the race, when the race rests on a light breeze, even a partial interference can affect performance.

So why not use drones? Those currently in circulation could not have supported the weight of all the equipment needed for shooting, but in the future it is possible that the helicopter will be replaced by the robot. But now the presence of the helicopter gives the cinematic thrill. And, after all, there is something true: it is like a film. Not surprisingly, when there is no America’s Cup, Monk works in the cinema. He rode the helicopter to shoot scenes from above in the saga “The Lord of the Rings”, “The Chronicles of Narnia”, “The Last Samurai” and “King Kong”. In the end, following two sailboats seems like the least difficult undertaking.



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