Living , Modern


van der Wal

1956 -

Onne van der Wal, a widely published nautical photographer, is uniquely able to capture many of the facets of the world of sailing due to his extensive experience in both racing and cruising.

Key West Race Week, Onne van der Wal


Racing at elite levels on everything from a laser to a maxi, his racing experience is vast and varied. A veteran of the Whitbread Around the World Race, Swan Worlds, the Maxi Circuit, the Grand Prix Yacht Racing Circuit, and the Fastnet, to name just a few, his comfort and knowledge on a boat allowed him to segue into the world of yacht racing photography seamlessly as he was not only a great photographer, but a sought-after crew member as well. His cruising experience is no less impressive, and he has the photographs to document it. Literally from the Arctic region (Spitzbergen) to the Antarctic (South Georgia), his travels on cruising yachts have taken him to such far-flung locales as the Kingdom of Tonga,the Galapagos Islands, Alaska, Russia, Cape Horn, French Polynesia, the Greek Isles, and the Gulf of Thailand, among others.


A perfect perch to shoot the iceberg from the top of Shaman’s mast, a Bill Tripp designed carbon water-ballasted cruising boat. 


Following are the sailing and photography resumes of Onne van der Wal:

Onne van der Wal’s career was launched while racing as a crew-member during the 1981-82 Whitbread Round the World race on the Dutch entry, Flyer II.  Onne was the engineer and bowman onboard, photographing the experience for his friends and family when he had the opportunity to show his slides to the editor of SAIL magazine while Flyer was anchored in Marblehead during sail trials with Hood before the race.  Keith Taylor, hired Onne on the spot to document the race and Onne’s first cover shot, taken from the boom of the boat hauling down a wave in the gnarly southern ocean, appeared on the cover of SAIL during the second leg of the race.   His images have since graced over 500 national and international nautical magazine covers and hundreds of yacht builders’ promotional brochures. His 34 years as a professional and award winning photographer not only includes editorial and assignment photography but he also owns a gallery in Newport where the public can purchase and hang his fine art photography on the walls of their homes, yachts, hotels and businesses.  He is the author of four coffee table books, (two published by Rizzoli), the creator of several documentaries, a Tedx Newport speaker, and the subject of a Rhode Island PBS documentary (co-produced by This Old House) about his career, trades education, photography and ability to refit his own 36 foot Pearson sailboat. Since 2008, Onne has been a member of Canon’s exclusive Explorer of Light program – one of only 33 selected photographers world-wide.


Photography Resume:

Doris Colgate, co-founder of Offshore Sailing School, where more than 130,000 people have learned to sail, believes Onne’s extensive experience, which includes 10 Atlantic Ocean crossings, gives him the ability to see things that other photographers do not. She said, “His composition and lighting are phenomenal. Onne takes a lot of risks getting his photos, but because of his sailing experience, he knows how to manage that risk. He captures the essence of sailing really, really well.”

Peter Wilson, a project manager for MCM, who was also a crew member aboard Sleuth during the infamous 1979 Fastnet race said, “I think what makes Onne’s photography stand out is that he has been at sea in all sorts of different circumstances: flat seas with no wind, in storms in the teeth of a tempest and that is what separates him from his colleagues. They don’t have saltwater in their veins as Onne does.”

In addition to extensive editorial work, Onne, who is based out of Newport, Rhode Island, has shot for blue chip commercial clients, including the likes of Hinckley Yachts, J Boats, Sperry, Patagonia, North Sails, and Harken.  Kate Geskos, a professional art buyer, said, “Even when Onne captures his action shots, they are shot in a very painterly fashion. He shoots the neutral tones and the amazing skies so you can envision them as a 20th Century painting.  Onne’s work is so graphic, all of his images present the sport in a majestic manner.”

  • 1987 – Started full time professional nautical photography career in Newport, RI 
  • A regular contributor to all the major sailing publications worldwide with in excess of 300 covers plus hundreds of racing and cruising features in the publications listed below:
    • Sail
    • Cruising World
    • Sailing World 
    • Sailing 
    • Yachting
    • Yachting World 
    • German Yacht.
    • Japanese Kazi
    • English Sea Horse
    • Dutch Waterkampion
    • French Voile et Voiliers
    • Spain Vela
  • Non-Sailing publications:
    • New York Times
    • Boston Globe
    • Travel & Leisure 
    • LA Times
    • Popular Photography
    • Outdoor Photography
    • London Times
  • 1994 – Started Stock Newport as a nautical image library selling his own vast archive of images plus the work of several notable U.S. and international photographers.
  • 1987 – Today:  Assignment photographer for magazines worldwide plus the US and international boat building industry.  A few of the more notable clients are listed below:
    • Boat builders:
      • J Boats
      • Alerion
      • Beneteau
      • Tartan
      • Catalina
      • Jeanneau
      • Holland Jachtbauw
      • Royal Huisman
      • Pendennis Shipyard
      • Hinckley
      • Morris Yachts
      • Sabre
      • Perini Navi
      • Vitters 
  • Commercial Clients:
    • Red Bull
    • Rolex
    • Bacardi
    • Ziploc
    • Raymarine
    • Akzo Nobel
    • Pioneer Bank
    • Sebago Shoes
    • Sperry Shoes
    • Patagonia Clothing
    • Gill
    • Panarai
    • Melges
    • North Sails
    • Volvo
    • Dockwise Shipping
  • 2001- Opened Onne van der Wal Photography Gallery on Bannnister’s Wharf selling limited edition fine art photography to the public


  • Canon as a Canon Explorer of Light
  • Lexar Media
  • ThinkTank bags
  • Aquatech underwater housings
  • Synology NAS raid system
  • Patagonia

Photography Awards:

  • 1981-82 – Whitbread’s Best Photo Award on legs 2 and 3 of the race.
  • 1987–2015 – Photo District News – Winner of best sports calendar for numerous years
  • 2013 – Sportel Monaco, Prix du Livre Sportel – “Sailing” won best sports book of the year
  • 2013 – Photographic Society of America  – Featured speaker award 


  • “Wind and Water – Boating Photographs from Around the World” Little Brown,  May 14, 2004
  • “Nautical Newport”, Onne van der Wal Gallery, January 1, 2013
  • “Sailing” Rizzoli, October 29, 2013
  • “Sailing America” Rizzoli, October 22, 2019


Onne’s Sailing Resume (pdf): van der Wal, Onne Sailing Resume


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