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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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Yung Chang: China Heavyweight

The Uplifting Stories of Rural China's Boxing Rings

Young pugilist He Zongli gets put through his paces in the gym and receives the wisdom of his coach Qi Moxiang at a training camp for the National Men's Boxing Championship in this extract from Yung Chang new feature documentary China Heavyweight. Working closely with a local crew, the Chinese-Canadian filmmaker traveled far into the Sichuan countryside to capture the daily routines of coach Qi and his teenage boxers. “The first time we met everyone I was struck by their philosophy of trying to change these rural countryside kids, to instil in them values that would help them in the future,” recalls Yung. “Coach Qi seemed to be almost a cliché of a boxing coach—someone who doesn’t make an income, but is so selfless and passionate for the idea of the sport that he’s dedicated his life to it.” Brought up by Chinese parents in Toronto’s rustic backwoods, the director saw movies as a way of escaping his upbringing, and of connecting with other people and their stories. Selected for the Sundance Film Festival in 2008, Yung’s first film Up The Yangtze told the poignant tale of a young girl taking a job on a Yangtze River cruise ship, set against the construction of the Three Gorges Dam. Currently the filmmaker is finishing up a third feature documentary, Fruit Hunters, following the lives of obsessive collectors searching for rare and exotic fruits all around the world. “It’s a celebration of diversity in the face of monoculture,” he says.

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Spotlight

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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