OK, just spent eight days watching some incredible regatta and racing. Here are notes on real world use of equipment:
1. Trusty old Canon 5D2 and 100-400 F/4-F/5.6. This is an old lens now, but if you use if properly, you definitely get good results. Shooting boats a mile or more away is one of them. The key is to hope for good light, and remember f/8 when the lense is at 400mm gives you the best resolution. Aim for the center as that is where the sharpness is. Renting a 400 f/2.8 isn't the dumbest thing if you can carry it or the 200-400 f/4 as this is a much sharper lense (that costs $16K!). 2. Leica Conquest HD 8x32. I see what folks are saying, wow this is some clear glass. And it is amazingly small. In retrospect, I would probably have gotten the 8x42 as a 32mm is pretty small when you are staring for a long time. 3. Vortex 8x26. Got these years ago as the thing you throw in the bag. It is porro prism and decently cheap. But next to the Leica, well, you don't want to compare the two. The clarity of the Leica (and the cost) are incredible, but this is some really very decent glass at a reasonable ($100 or so) price.
4. Gitmo ultralight tripod with Markins ball. Wow, this continues to amaze me. Works really well even with a big dSLR and a 3 pound lens and it is so small. Need to get the model number, but even the spindly 4-segment system is very stable.
What is needed?
1. Well if you are watching regattas, you really need high power, a family had the Canon 15x with image stabilization. Monster that really let's you see clearly what is happening. Should get a mount to go with it so it can live on a tripod.
2. Waterproof camera. For all that dinking around by the water, it sure makes sense to have one. The upcoming 4K Go Pro looks amazing, but just a good compact makes sense with enough batteries so you don't have to think about it for a month. And enough 64GB SD card as well (nothing like having 3,000 shots per card!). Need to be waterproof cards too though!