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July 30, 2014

Breaking Waves With Stephanie Gilmore

A Career-Spanning 16mm Documentary on Surfing’s Leading Lady

Surf enthusiast Ava Warbick was in Honolua, Hawaii, in 2007 when she first caught word of Stephanie Gilmore, the first ever rookie to win the Women’s World Championship. Gripped by Gilmore’s consummate skill and poise, the aspiring filmmaker looked to her father, Doug “Claw” Warbrick (founder of surf brand Rip Curl), for pointers, and gained unbridled access to the Australian for three years. The resulting documentary, Stephanie in the Water, released this month, sheds light on the pro surfer’s beginnings at the age of 21 through to her prolific rise to become a five-time world champion, and the pressure to stay at the top of the sport. “Stephanie is radiant and grounded and illustrates true poise,” says Warbick, who captured Gilmore’s elegant swan dive kick-outs in locations that included Micronesia and Puerto Rico. “I was interested in what allows someone to perform and stay present at that elite level,” she adds. Collaborating with an all-female production team, the director completed her debut with an original score from Brooklyn-based producers Fall on Your Sword. Here, Gilmore shares her favorite warm-up music and Diana Vreeland’s timeless bikini advice. 

Who have been some of the women to inspire you over the years?
Stephanie Gilmore: [fellow pro surfers] Lisa Andersen and Kelia Moniz, for they are beauty on a wave. I admire Maria Sharapova's ambition and what she has done for the athletic female image and equality in sport.

You ultimate surf music? 
SG:
Tame Impala is great surf music, Daft Punk just makes me want to party on the wave. And if I'm ever needing to get in the mood to paddle out, I listen to “Sunny" by Marvin Gaye.

One thing we'd be surprised to know about you?
SG:
My pre-heat warm-up song is "100% Pure Love" by Crystal Waters.

Any secret talents?
SG:
I will beat you in table tennis.

You've cited Rihanna as a style icon––what's the most glamorous surf get-up you own? 
SG:
As Diana Vreeland said: “The bikini is the most important thing since the Atom bomb." I guess my whole wardrobe is pretty glamorous.

Stephanie in the Water is available August 5 on iTunes.

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Testing the Olympic Waters

Previewing Zaha Hadid’s New Aquatics Center at the FINA Diving World Cup

Photographer Andrew Woffinden captures the charged rehearsals for FINA’s Diving World Cup at architect Zaha Hadid’s sweeping modernist vision, the new London Aquatics Center. A regular contributor to GQ, Elle and TANK Magazine, Woffinden turned his lens on the 250 divers from 40 different countries perfecting their somersaults and twists from the 10m-high boards. “The space is absolutely gorgeous,” says Woffinder of the Pritzker Prize-winning architect’s epic 17,500-capacity creation. “It beautifully sweeps up like Manta Ray wings.” By the time the championships climax on Sunday with the platform dive-off, there will already have been seven days of pool time, with heats in synchronized and single diving featuring some of the most exciting athletes in the sport today, such as Australia’s 2008 Olympic 10m platform gold medalist Matthew Mitcham and Britain’s high-profile Tom Daley. But it was Team China who dominated the competition’s early stages with partners Qin Kai and Luo Yutong taking gold at the men’s synchronized 3m springboard, and Chen Ruolin winning the Women’s 10m platform. Diving at the Summer Olympics is scheduled to take place from July 29 through August 11.

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Spotlight

Ping Pong, Senior Style

Meet the Elder Enthusiasts Going for Gold in a New Table Tennis Documentary

Sibling filmmakers Hugh and Anson Hartford expose the little-known world of octogenarian table tennis with a clip from their charming documentary, Ping Pong. The brothers focused their attention on the exceptional lives of the participants at the 2010 Over-80s Table Tennis Championships in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia. The band of athletes includes a fiercely competitive former French Resistance member, a 101-year-old wheelchair-bound Australian, and Les D’Arcy, a flamboyant ex-P.E. teacher with a penchant for rhymes. The brothers had an unorthodox approach when it came to choosing which subjects would tie the documentary together. “We covered the walls of my hotel room with profiles of different players,” explains Hugh. “Both their sport and home life story had to unfold in a way that fitted together but was also going to bring something different to the film.” Spanning three years and five countries, the documentary saw the directors travel through Stuttgart, Houston and Stockholm before finally arriving in Inner Mongolia for the competition climax.

Ping Pong is due in festivals across the US towards the end of the year and will be part of the East End Film Festival, which runs from July 3-8.

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