Stephen Bayley / Marc Coma / Claire Oâ€™Hara / Gonjasufi / Matt Gilman / Adrian Jack / Marie-France Roy
a beyond the ordinary magazine
January 2012, ÂŁ3.00
Dow our f nload re App e iPad now !
Meet Seb Loeb
best Apocalypse Surfers When the hardest riders meet the meanest surf
The B-Boys are back in town Backstage as Red Bull BC One storms Moscow
World 10 seasons 8 Rally titles 67 wins And still the man to beat
T N U O M CLIMB O R A J N KILIMA R 2012 E B M E V O N â€“4 25TH OCTOBER TH
T B THE HIGHES M LI C TO IA N A Z G BACK TO TAN WE ARE HEADIN E WORLD! TH IN IN TA N U O most M G IN ute which is the FREE STAND tiful Machame ro g the beau additional day of trek takes us alon This challenging at 5896m. With an it m m su ed pp e snow ca ding route. scenic route to th ectacularly rewar sp t bu h ug to a is acclimatisation it
ation visit rg o . e g n For more inform e l l a h c rn www.cohnallcee concern.net @ e g n .c fo in or email:
cover photography & photography: philipp horak
off-season’s greetings Not every day you get met at the airport by a legend. Choppered home by a world champ; invited into his house, shown around, then taken for a stroll in the Swiss Jura mountain foothills that open out from his garden gate. The champ in question is one Sébastien Loeb, the eight-time winner of the World Rally Championship for drivers and a sportsman who has come to dominate his field like no other. Think Michael Schumacher’s good, with his seven Formula One title wins and 91 Grand Prix victories from 286 starts? Well Loeb’s haul of eight titles and 67 wins from 151 rally starts gives him a win:start ratio of 41.61 per cent over nine full WRC seasons. Schumacher’s hit rate over 17 full seasons is 31.81 per cent and, unlike Loeb, he won’t enter 2012 as sure-fire favourite to win another world title. So it’s kinda cool that he found time for The Red Bulletin (“Le Bulletin Rouge” as he once affectionately referred to it) during a brief off-season pause, to share a slice of his life and a swathe of his thoughts on sport, rivalry, skill, speed, competition, love, laughter and – of course – winning. Nice guy that he is (and he is a very nice guy) Séb Loeb – Super Sébastien Loeb pictured exclusively for The Red Bulletin near Séb to those who work with and his home in foothills of the Jura mountains in Switzerland. around him in the WRC – remains Read our interview with the motorsport legend on page 68 a ferocious competitor, one who’s aware that when the competitive fire is lit, he burns like no other. But aware, too, that the light will dim and that he doesn’t want to be around to face the day when someone else might tell him what he already knows: that he isn’t as quick as he used to be. That day appears still some way off, and we can relish the prospect of another season watching a true master. There was talk last year that Loeb might have grown weary of the fight against younger rivals, but a word from Jean-Marc Gales, boss of Citroën, with whom Loeb has achieved all his World Rally success, allowed perspective to be regained: “Citroën without Sébastien Loeb,” Gales said, “would be like Paris without the Eiffel Tower.” That’s about as ringing as endorsements get and certainly it was enough to convince Loeb to stick around for another season or two. Maybe this time he’ll get caught. Though if history is our guide…
MORE ON the iPAD Wherever you see this symbol you’ll find additional images and video in our free iPad edition of The Red Bulletin. Download it now at the App Store
Your editorial team
the n ew ! p p a le r e d bu l
E E R F DOWNLOAD
Fusing high-end magazine editorial with eye-catching moving images. The essential addition to the print title.
THE WORLD OF RED BULL
PHOTOGRAPHY: JUERGEN SKARWAN (2), ANTONIA STEYN, DENIS KLERO, THOMAS BUTLER, MARCEL LÄMMERHIRT, PHILIPP HORAK
14 HERE IS THE NEWS
30 BAMBOO SCAFFOLDERS It’s a different kind of high life for the construction ‘monkeys’ of Hong Kong
17 ME AND MY BODY Marie-France Roy, bone-breaking ’boarder 18 MATT GILMAN Trials biking’s tough. Imagine it blind 20 KITBAG The crucial bond between boots and skis 22 WHERE’S YOUR HEAD AT? Jim Carrey’s just differently wired up 25 CLAIRE O’HARA She boats; she squirts. And she’s a champ 26 SCIENCE OF SPORT A dive deep into underwater competition 30 LUCKY NUMBERS: DOOMSDAY 2012: It’s the end of the world… Maybe
40 MICHAEL COLLINS A life, lived: the Booker shortlist, running for Ireland, four kids… Feel inadequate? 46 RED BULL BC ONE MOSCOW The B-Boys are back in town and they’re not here to dance like Cossacks 54 SURFMEN OF THE APOCALYPSE Darkness, death, fear, pain… Riding giants is a challenge only for the brave 60 BAJA CALIFORNIA There are trucks, then there are Bajabeating monster trucks. We got ’em
68 LOEB: A LION IN WINTER An eight-time world champ, almost without rival. At home. Exclusively
06 KAINRATH’S CALENDAR 08 PICTURES OF THE MONTH 98 MIND’S EYE
76 BLADES OF GLORY Think ice hockey meets Rollerball then add speed. This is Red Bull Crashed Ice
84 TRAVEL: UP HELLY AA Viking heritage ablaze at this smokin’ Shetlands fire-fest 86 FOOD FOR FRIENDS A world-acclaimed chef and a dish from Romania 88 GET THE GEAR Stefan Glowacz’s cliff-face tent 90 PRO TIPS Biking the Dakar is way tough. Better train hard… 92 WORLD’S BEST CLUBS Budapest’s ritziest night haunt 92 MUST LISTEN The experimental Gonjasufi 93 TAKE 5 The discs that spun the head of hip-hop pioneer RZA 94 WORLD IN ACTION A guide to all the top events around the world 96 SAVE THE DATE Ink these in your diary 05
illustration: dietmar kainrath
K a i n r at h
Win a Weekend’s freeriding in Zillertal Whether it’s alpine skiing, freestyle skiing or freeriding you’re after, Zillertal has long been a Mecca for the ultimate skiing trip. The choice of 668km of slopes, world-famous fun parks and countless activities give it its special kick. The professionals particularly love Zillertal’s fantastic deep snow slopes, which are easy to reach thanks to 172 state-of-the-art lifts and cable cars. Take part in our competition and feel the pure freedom of Zillertal’s perfect powder.
Play & wi n
Win a freeride weekend for two people in Zillertal: 2 nights in a 4-star hotel half-board, plus freeriding tours with an experienced guide! How to enter: Simply fill out the entry form at www.zillertal.at/redbulletin and give yourself the chance to win a weekend’s freeriding in Zillertal. The winner will be informed in writing. Rules: The deadline for entry is January 31, 2012. Minors under the age of 18, Red Bulletin GmbH staff and employees at Zillertal Tourismus GmbH and their relatives may not take part. The winner will be drawn by lot in private from all valid entrants. Each entrant can only win once per competition. The winner will be informed by email. The prize can be redeemed subject to availability up to April 15, 2012. Travel costs are not included in the prize. There will be no recourse to the courts or cash payments. All entrants agree that the data they provide to enter the competition may be held on file, used and, if appropriate, published in the media with name and photograph by Red Bulletin GmbH and Zillertal Tourismus GmbH to conduct the competition and for marketing purposes (postal, telephone and e-advertising). Agreement can be withdrawn at any time by sending an email to widerruf(at)redbulletin.at and firstname.lastname@example.org. The use of automated materials and/or services is not permitted. Copyright: Red Bulletin GmbH. All rights reserved.
mau i , HaWai i
Pacific Ocean storms are welcomed by those who make use of the resultant big waves. The North Swells can take 10 days to travel the thousands of miles from Alaska to Samoa; halfway along, they hit Maui’s north coast and forge some of the best conditions found anywhere for board watersports. Bernie Hiss is a long way from his roots here, but he’s in the zone – he shaped his first surfboard aged 14, in his parents’ garage on the island of Fehmarn, in the Baltic Sea between Germany and Denmark. In the 30 years since then, Hiss has won windsurf championships and established a leading kite and kiteboard manufacturing firm. But better days than this? Few. Breeze it all in: www.prokitetour.com
Photography: Thorsten Indra
Hai m i n g , au str ia
New New StoNe Age
PhotograPhy: reUters/domInIc ebenbIchler
The rock skier (in this case, Lukas Ebenbichler, cousin of the man behind the lens here, Dominic Ebenbichler) says goodbye to the surface on the underside of his skis, but there are advantages to his increasingly popular pastime – mainly that the lack of snow is no hindrance. You just head for the scree slopes and push off. Turns are harder when there’s no white stuff, and doing that thing at the end of your run where you turn sharply to shower your pals in whatever you’re standing on is absolutely forbidden. Otherwise the rush and the challenge are the equal of regular skiing. Could this be the dominant mountain discipline in a climate-changed future? Hmm. See for yourself now by downloading the free Red Bulletin iPad App. www.redbulletin.com/ipad
Most practitioners of slacklining string their not-tight ropes between two tree trunks, a few metres up, so that any falls are decidedly non-fatal. Then there are people like Florian Ebner. The guy’s an artist on the slackline, and here he stretched his canvas between the south and south-west faces of the Laserzwand, in the Lienz Dolomites of East Tyrol. And when we say ‘canvas’, we mean flat nylon webbing, between one and two inches thick, the slackliner’s medium of choice, regardless of height (the thinner the width of a slackline, the more it sways). Ebner was about 300m up when he did this, but he’s also a dab hand much closer to Earth. Last year he became the first man to land a backflip on a slackline. www.elephant-slackline.com
Li E n Z , au str ia
13 Photography: Martin Lugger
Bullevard Sport and culture on the quick
All on my own Best thing about Twitter? You get to see how funny the funny people are without the help of the writer’s room RUSSELL BRAND (@rustyrockets) Followers: 3.61m and rising
Paying for sex is like making your cat dance on its back legs – you know it’s wrong, but you like to pretend they’re enjoying it as well. JONAH HILL (@JonahHill) Followers: 860k and rising fast
I want to meet the man who saw a turtle and said, “People will LOVE the ninja version of that.” CONAN O’BRIEN (@conanobrien) Followers: 4.5m and rising
Turns out, “Cowboys & Aliens” is NOT about Arizona’s immigration laws. www.twitter.com
M-YOU-SIC A miniature music-making machine that comes one part short: it needs a human body British record label Mute, home to artists such as Nick Cave, Moby and Depeche Mode, is putting the means of music production in the hands of the people. The Mute Synth is the same size as a 1980s hand-held computer game: a fitting defunct-tech aesthetic to match the low-fi sounds it creates. Sounds come when fingers and thumbs touch certain areas on the front and back of the copper circuit board. The conductivity in the body connected to those fingers and thumbs affects the resulting sound: the better the electricity flows through you, the sweeter the synthesiser tweets. Which makes things unpredictable, but all the more engaging. There are also tilt switches in two planes, so that the position of the Mute Synth also determines the noise it makes. If the Theremin, with its don’t-touch, handwaving method (see Good Vibrations) is the most hands-off of all electronic instruments, this is the most hands-on.
Bleep of faith: to play the Mute Synth, you have to feel it inside you
PICTURES OF THE MONTH
EVERY SHOT ON TARGET
Taken a picture with a Red Bull flavour? Send it to us via our website: www.redbulletin.com Every month we print a selection, and our favourite pic is awarded a limited-edition Sigg bottle. Tough, functional and well-suited to sports, it features The Red Bulletin logo.
Kowloon BMXer Daniel Dhers (centre) schools the rookies at Red Bull Under My Wing in Hong Kong. Raf Sanchez
B U L L E VA R D
Oscar faves with real-life stories
ROCKER OF AGES At 64, Sammy Hagar shows no sign of slowing
Louis Vito: going for gold at the 2012 X Games
J. EDGAR Will Leonardo DiCaprio ‘Hoover’ up an Academy Award playing the very cross and crossdressing FBI legend?
WORDS: FLORIAN OBKIRCHER. PHOTOGRAPHY: PA PHOTOS, GETTY IMAGES (2), CORBIS, GEORGE BENSON/DIRTY ELECTRONICS, NEIL ZLOZOWER, PAUL BACHMANN
Higher and higher and higher still Last year, Louis Vito tricked his way to the bronze medal in Superpipe – the really big halfpipe – at the Winter X Games in Aspen. But that just isn’t good enough. “I want to reach the next level,” says the 23-year-old American, who has the chance to do just that at Winter X Games XVI, also in Aspen, from January 26-29. With that goal in mind, he overhauled his nutrition and pre-season preparations. He’s also switched focus and is now 100 per cent about the boarding. In 2009, he appeared on Dancing With The Stars on US television, which got him known by 22 million viewers, but as long as he wore dancing shoes, the snowboard boots stayed in his locker. The following year, he secured fifth place in the halfpipe at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, and Vito has his mind set on upping levels again, at the next Games, in the Russian city of Sochi in 2014: “I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t thinking about it already.” www.louievito.com
MONEYBALL As Best Actor, likely Leo foes include Brad Pitt as Billy Beane, the baseball manager who outstatted the rest.
A hard-rock superstar who hit it big both solo and with Van Halen, Hagar is currently on tour in Europe with Chickenfoot, the supergroup he fronts with guitar legend Joe Satriani, Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith and Michael Anthony, former Van Halen bassist. Excessive behaviour was an 1980s rocker’s must. What are after-parties like now? Oh no, you’re not getting that! I’m a married man! Seriously, I’m a lot more sensible now, even if I don’t always find it easy. My fans are 50 per cent female, at least. They come to shows with girlfriends. Their husbands stay home with the kids. They party their asses
off. They’re mature women, man, but more wild than the young groupies used to be. How do you keep fit? Two-hour shows are all I need to stay fit. Plus, I do extensive walking. Longer exercise is better than killing yourself for 30 minutes in the gym. It’s like sex: you want to take your time, you don’t want to jump in and jump out. What about those shows? We take chances on stage, we do not play it safe for one minute. Maybe fans should come with a hard hat and goggles so they don’t get hurt. It’s a reckless show that we do. Our drummer beats his drum kit to death with his sticks at every gig. www.chickenfoot.us
THE IRON LADY How to guarantee a record 17th acting nomination: be Meryl Streep, play Margaret Thatcher. Oscar noms, Jan 24: www.oscar.com
Fowl play, from left: Joe Satriani, Michael Anthony and Sammy Hagar
WE HAVE A WINNER!
al-Khobar Motorsport, Saudi Arabian style at Red Bull Ras B Ras (‘head-to-head’). Naim Chidiac
Johannesburg At Red Bull Beat Battle, Artistic Intelligence turn things upside down. Tyrone Bradley
Santiago Red Bull Soap Box Race: more aerodynamic vehicles are also available. Marcelo Maragni 15
b u l l e va r d
Aimee Fuller, rising snow star
This month, leading motorbike trials riders descend on South Yorkshire, hoping to be crowned King of Sheffield at the sport’s premier indoor event. For trials legend Dougie Lampkin, it’s one of the highlights of the year. “For me it’s a rare chance to compete in the UK,” says the 12-time world champion. “Having that home support is fantastic. Riders tackle big stuff – indoor waterfalls, stacked skips, scaffolding – and the crowd is close to the action.” Five out of the world’s top six riders will be there. Look out for Toni Bou and Adam Raga. The Spanish pair finished first and second respectively at the 2011 event, while Lampkin suffered two punctures and will be hoping for better luck this time. www.motorpointarenasheffield.co.uk
Band battle Red Bull Bedroom Jam, which gives burgeoning bands the chance to hit fame’s dizzying heights without leaving the house, is open once again for Irish bands. From January 19 any group, with any sound in any genre, can upload a video to the competition website. Then, from February 27, a bi-weekly Buzz Chart will denote popularity based on video views and social media activity on sites including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. The top six acts will get to play live online before three are chosen to play leading festivals this summer. The overall champion band will then be whisked off to London to record at one of the Red Bull Studios. Staying in has never sounded so good. www.redbullbedroomjam.ie
George Town Freerunner Ryan Doyle gets a heads-down in the Cayman Islands Juan José Marroquín 16
Aimee Fuller, 20, from Kent, is making her mark on the snowboarding scene thanks to motocross, sofa surfing and mental gymnastics Early learner “i started snowboarding on a dry slope in Kent at the age of four, the same age that i started motocross, which helped: the forces you deal with at take-off and landing are the same in both those sports.” Snow pro “i turned professional in 2010 and since then everything has been hectic, travelling between europe and the us. one day i’m in a fourstar hotel and the next i’m lying on somone’s couch – it’s great.” Fear fighter “My first time boarding in the backcountry was in canada at this huge kicker. on the first try i bailed so hard, but then i got it. you get a massive buzz when you mentally conquer your fear.” Body bag “the worst part about being a snowboarder is carrying your snowboard bag, and having to pay excess baggage fees at airports. last time i flew, i got asked if it was a body in there.” Follow Aimee at the O’Neill Evolution contest this month: www.ttrworldtour.com
Porto Alegre Brazilian rapper Marcelo D2
(right) enjoys a Red Bull Soundclash on home turf Marcelo Maragni
Moscow At a Red Bull Crashed Ice qualifier, obstacles are to be cirumvented, not limbo-ed Daniel Kolodin
Words: ruth Morgan. photography: iMago sportfoto, arenda de hoop/red Bull content pool, Matt georges
B U L L E VA R D
ME AND MY BODY
MARIE-FRANCE ROY The Québécois queen of snow is one of the world’s best boarders, but breaks, bruises and accidental backflips have made her journey to the top a painful one
OH, SNA P
I started boarding aged 11 and didn’t break a single bone until March 2010, which is lucky considering I’m now 27. I was being filmed in Whistler [where she lives, in British Columbia, Canada], and I saw a snow cornice I wanted to drop off. But it was overhanging more than I thought, so I went much faster and got 45ft of air! I landed on hard ice and I was thinking, ‘If I land on my back, it’s going to break’. So I landed on my feet but my head whipped back and hit the ice and I broke the C2 vertebra in my neck. A lot of people don’t walk away from that, but I was lucky. A neck brace for seven weeks, and by December I was back hitting handrails.
IN NE R BE IN G
The mental side of coming back after an accident is definitely a challenge. You have to follow your inst incts: sometimes you’ve got to tell yourself to stop being such a pussy and just go for it, but other tim es it’s too dangerous. Knowing the difference between the two is a big challenge.
ANY THI NG YOU CAN DO…
There are scars on my hips, from falling onto rails. It was my first time riding with [US snowboard legend] Tara Dakides. I tried to hop on the rail and slipped, sliding from the very top straight to the flat part on my hips. It hurt so bad I was bent double. Then 10 minutes later Tara broke her collarbone. Not a great day.
WORDS: RUTH MORGAN. PHOTOGRAPHY: BLAKE JORGENSON
In 2005 I was riding with friends, going off a tiny little jump for fun, and I was riding away after landing when I caught an edge. I put my right arm back to catch myself and it bent the wrong way – what the doctors call hyperextension. The pain was so bad I was puking and nearly passing out. It took a month in a sling to heal. I still have a lump sticking out of my elbow.
SCRE W LOO SE
At the X Games in Aspen in 2007, I didn’t notice a big screw sticking out of the course that ended up causing a huge gash under my board. When I went for a jump, the gash caught the snow and sent me sideways. I went into an accidental backflip off a 65ft jump, landed headfirst and bounced onto my back – but I was fine! I mean, I popped four ribs, which was painful, but in the air, I’d been thinking, ‘OK I might be paralysed after this’, so it seemed like a small price to pay.
LA CU ISI NE DE MA RI E-FRA NC E
Generally I try to eat a lot of vegetables, and buy organic and sustain able food, but I’m not psycho about it. I don’t want to be that person who ’s like, ‘Oh no, I can’t eat that!’ You’ll still see me eating poutine. It’s a clas sic FrenchCanadian meal of French fries with gravy and cheese. It’s fat, but a classic.
TRAINING, NATURALLY I’m probably at the gym less than any other snowboarder. I just can’t stand it. I like to be outside. I spend the summer surfing every day, then in winter I go riding and I go on hikes. I was out snowshoeing just the other day. I just prefer keeping in shape in a natural outdoor environment.
b u l l e va r d
The vision guy
Trials biking is one of cycling’s toughest disciplines, yet one man rides hard despite being blind. Fellow rider, Tom Öhler, holds him in the highest regard Name Matt Gilman Date of birth April 28, 1980 Riding trials bikes since 2002 Endurance tests 22 operations on his eyes in two years YouTube Search for “blind bike trials” Bike Inspired
Matt Gilman is 31, lives in baltimore, Maryland, and, just like i do, he rides trials bikes. Matt is established on the scene; you’ll find photos and videos of him on all the relevant trial web forums. but what sets him apart from other trials riders is that he only has about 30 per cent vision and is legally blind. What you notice first and foremost about Matt is his joie de vivre and the unusually open and positive way in which he deals with his lot. He lost most of his sight at the age of 24 because of diabetes. Matt, who had been an enthusiastic bMX and trials bike rider until then, fell into a deep depression. His passion for the sport helped him out of it. Matt had to train hard to be able to ride trials bikes again. The extraordinary perseverance he had to muster to relearn the basics impressed me enormously. i really can’t imagine trying to do trials biking without being able to see. even if Matt can’t perform at the same level as the top riders, he rides in open country, always accompanied by a friend to make up a well-honed team. Matt has some residual vision: he can perceive light and dark, and outlines at high contrast, but
he cannot visually perceive distance, heights or uneven surfaces and must therefore count on his companion’s experience and direction. One of the most important aspects of trials biking – aside from balance and mental strength – is judging distances. Without knowing distances, you would constantly crash into things or jump too far. Matt has to get to know distances on foot and feel them physically. research is important here. He can’t just approach an obstacle like other trials riders and go for it; he has to recce the area in great detail first and then commit it precisely to memory before he goes out and attempts it. An important part of training for us trials riders is being able to fall well. if things get hairy, we jump off the bike in a controlled manner, which helps us avoid a lot of bad falls and injuries. When you jump off your bike, sight obviously plays an important role: you look for somewhere to land safely on both feet. Matt completely lacks that visual check. When i asked him how he falls, he said, soberly: “When i crash, i crash hard!” Matt’s slogan is, “Vision is more than sight,” a point he always makes demonstrably at his trials bike shows. He also wants to give others courage not to give up on their dreams, even if there is a lot standing in their way. When Matt Gilman says, “You can achieve anything if you want it bad enough,” it rings very true. Tom Öhler is a former world trials champion. www.blindbiketrials.com
WOrds: THOMAs ÖHler. PHOTOGrAPHY: Aki lAcOunT, TOMMY bAuse
Tom Öhler, 28, won the FIM Trial World Championship in 2008
The Red Bulletin Beyond the ordinary – everywhere on our planet
Wo r l d Wide
Subscribe today for the lifestyle magazine from the World of Red Bull. Now available in your country. Just enter www.getredbulletin.com TERMS AND CONDITIONS: The Red Bulletin is published 12 times a year. You can subscribe to the International Edition (English version) from any country in the world via www.getredbulletin.com. If your country is not highlighted on the map please choose the button ‘INTERNATIONAL’. The subscription price is £25.99 for 12 issues and you will be charged in Pound Sterling. Please be aware that your bank may charge additional fees.
Beyond the ordinary the Red BulletiN
B U L L E VA R D
Leg bones and ligaments stay undamaged longer, thanks to the connection between ski boots and skis. But the relationship hasn’t always been so fruitful
Around 1900, as skiing was slowly spreading from Norway through central Europe, enthusiasts encountered a major problem: the connection of shoe to ski had to be more stable in steep Alpine regions than on Nordic plains, where cross-country skiing 20
was the norm. One binding method was the Kandahar model (named for the ski club where it was popularised), with steel jaws, leather fixing straps and cable pulley, shown here in the first-ever model produced under the Tyrolia brand. It offered some
protection from injury in major falls, but you could hardly call it a safety binding. If anything, it was the combination of slower speeds, soft leather shoes and the binding’s tendency to release during a fall that served to prevent fractures.
WORDS: ROBERT SPERL TEXT:
TRUST IS GOOD… TYROLIA BINDING, 1949
PHOTOGRAPHY: KURT KEINRATH
B U L L E VA R D
…BUT TECHNOLOGY IS BETTER TYROLIA FREEFLEX PRO 14, 2011/12 In the 1960s, Alpine skiers moved on from cable bindings to safety bindings of a type still used today, where the heel and toe are clipped into the binding. Tyrolia became the world market leader. The Freeflex Pro 14, one of the firm’s current racing models,
does everything the skier demands: it holds when it has to and lets go when it should, while still affording the movement and stability required for top-class performance. Sliding inserts and adjustable springs minimise outer and inner friction, which
also increases reliability. To ensure the skis’ dynamic isn’t affected – something users like Lindsey Vonn and Bode Miller definitely wouldn’t tolerate – the binding is mounted on a plate, which is then fixed to a ski. www.tyrolia.com
b u l l e va r d
where’s your head at?
There might be a teeny tiny wrinkle on that rubber face as he turns 50 this month, but his career – comedy and the serious stuff – sails smoothly on
Can adi an Ma kin ’
Be Se ri ou s
There is knockabout Jim Carrey, and there is the serious Jim Car rey, star of Eternal Sunshine of The Spo tless Mind and The Truman Sho w: movies loved by people who ’d tell you, “but I don’t like Jim Car rey”. Making ‘straight’ film Man On The Moon, Carrey stayed in cha racter at all times, to the chagrin of cas t and crew, apart from weekends with his daughter.
James Eugene Carrey was born in . Newmarket, Ontario, on January 17, 1962 rent appa me beca ns essio His gift for impr at a young age, and, encouraged by his father, Percy, who had enjoyed stage time in a jazz band, little Jimmy Carrey made his comedy debut at Yuk Yuk’s Komedy Kabaret in Toronto, aged 14. By the time he was 19, he was the headline act.
Hea d Spi n
Go West. Like, Really West
Carrey, like many comic entertainers, has the light sidedark side thing going on. “I can get too intense. I’m a circular thinker,” he told The New Yorker. “I get on the carousel of thought and break things down about a thousand times… I think I’m moving to the centre, though, in my life.” Peek inside his mind at his candid video blog, Jim Carrey TruLife.
Carrey moved to Los Angeles in 1981 and began appearing at the legendary Comedy Store. Rodney Dangerfield caught his act, and signed him to open for Dangerfield’s show in Vegas. The two became friends and later toured together for two years, sharing, Carrey remembered, “a lot of laughs, and a lot of bad airplane meals”. Carrey was one of the pallbearers at Dangerfield’s funeral in 2004.
Who’s The Grandaddy?
Next Ventu re: Ace
Six weeks after he turned 48, Jim Carrey announced on Twitter that he had become a grandfather, to little Jackson Riley Santana. Carrey’s daughter Jane was born in 1987, during his fist marriage. He was later married to Lauren Holly, who played his love interest in Dumb And Dumber, and went out with Jenny McCarthy for four-and-a-half years. And Renée Zellweger for a bit before her.
Twe et Sme ll Of Succ ess
Eter nal Optimist of the Dre ami ng Kind
Carrey starred in the 1984 sitcom The Duck Factory, as a cartoonist at a run-down animation company. (YouTube reveals the pilot episode’s first joke to be a good one. Not so much after that.) It lasted half a season and later, still doing late-night stand-up and TV movies and dreaming of success, he wrote a cheque to himself, payable Thanksgiving 1995, for $10m. A pretty good prediction.
“Somebody Stop Me!” In 1994, three Carrey films were released. Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, The Mask and Dumb And Dumber were global hits, followed the next year by a Ventura sequel and Batman Forever. In 1996, he was paid $20m to star in The Cable Guy. Pre Ace: crew on TV sketch show In Living Color. Two years on: Hollywood’s highest-paid actor.
Who’s the biggest movie star on Twitter? Ashton Kutcher does TV. Justin Timberlake is an actor slash musician. Charlie Sheen is Charlie Sheen. Counting followers as a measure of Twitter success – there is no other way – then Carrey is Twitter’s leading leading man, with just over five million. That puts him 34th overall; Lady Gaga rules with 16 million. Carrey only follows one Twitter page: his daughter’s band’s. www.jimcarreytrulife.com
Words: Paul Wilson. Illustration: Lie-Ins and Tigers
“Boom: it’s Steve Carrell and Jim Carrey as two warring magicians, and the girl who comes between them is the hot stuff from Tron: Legacy.” That, students of the Hollywood machine, is known as a ‘killer pitch’, and somebody will make a lot of money when the film from this idea, Burt Wonderstone, is released in 2013.
HARD & FAST
Top performers and winning ways from around the globe
Girls aloud: all-female Scala choir, Stijn Kolacny (centre right) and brother Steven
des South Africa’s Ryan San e won the 155-mile, six-stag al Nep t: lane heP ingT Rac 25s, ultramarathon in 25h 15m place. over 2h ahead of second
Two brothers, their women-only singing group and a simple tale of overnight global success After their cover of Radiohead’s Creep featured on the trailer for The Social Network, aka the Facebook movie, Scala and Kolacny Brothers, an all-female choir plus conductor Stijn Kolacny and pianist sibling Steven, won millions of new fans. But they’ve been doing haunting covers of pop songs like this for a decade. This month they’re appearing at the Olympia Theatre, Dublin.
In Düsseldorf, Team Germany – Sebastian Vettel and Michael Schumacher – won the Nations Cup at the F1 v rally v NASCAR v touring cars drivers’ Race of Champions.
: What was the first pop song you covered? : I Think I’m Paranoid by Garbage. We performed it in the final round of a classical choir contest in Canada. We finished up last, but the audience was freaking. How do you choose the songs? Firstly, my brother needs to be able to arrange it at the piano. Before a song gets on our standard repertoire, we need at least three months to get the feeling for it. Funnily enough, often it works with songs that you wouldn’t expect. We’ve been covering the German metal band Rammstein – it’s perfect! How did your Creep cover get on The Social Network trailer? The director, David Fincher, had our songs on his iPod for years and was waiting for the right film. The global promotion of that film... you cannot imagine how it changed our professional life. What did Radiohead have to say about it? Thom Yorke [lead singer] has said that the only covers he likes are ours and the work of some jazz musician. Not too bad, huh? www.scalachoir.com
Lindsey Vonn (USA) continued her good start to the 2011-12 World Cup season, winning both Downhill and Super-G at Lake Louise, Canada.
WORDS: PAUL WILSON, FLORIAN OBKIRCHER. PHOTOGRAPHY: EMILIE BAILEY, ZANDY MANGOLD/RACINGTHEPLANET.COM, FLO HAGENA/RED BULL CONTENT POOL, GETTY IMAGES. ILLUSTRATION: DIETMAR KAINRATH
B U L L E VA R D
b u l l e va r d
Half boat, double cHamp
If you’ve never heard of squirt boating, you’re not alone. But one woman reigns supreme at the top of this demanding sport’s rankings
Name Claire O’Hara Age 30 Born Leeds, England Little dribble to wet through O’Hara wanted to be a footballer until she discovered kayaking, aged nine Equal bragging rights At the 2011 Freestyle World Championships, on the men’s course, O’Hara managed to post the best time overall Favourite places Yorkshire, Nepal
WOrdS: rUTH MOrGAN. PHOTOGrAPHY: ViCKi MATHerS
Rocking her boat: O’Hara trains with video analysis to hone her squirt boating technique
When Claire O’Hara says she’s been in Fascination Alley practising Mystery Moves, she’s used to getting confused expressions. A lot of what she does makes sense to only a few people initiated into the demanding and intriguingly named sport of squirt boating. Niche activity it may be, but it’s also a highly athletic sport that’s made her a world champion, and taken her all over the globe, from the white waters of Nepal to the White Nile of Uganda. Squirt boating is a form of freestyle kayaking using a squirt boat, a craft around half the volume of a standard kayak. each custom-moulded boat sits just beneath the water level, so that riders can use both surface and underwater currents to execute nimble tricks not possible in regular-sized boats. The ‘squirt’ part, O’Hara explains, refers to the sudden forward propulsion of the boat when the stern is dug into the water, similar to an air-filled ball being released underwater, which allows for all sorts of tricks unique to the sport. “it’s like gymnastics in a kayak,” O’Hara explains in a girlie voice that belies her years. “in competition, our choreographed routines of moves should look effortless and graceful.” but there’s nothing dainty about this whitewater sport. The pinnacle of any squirt boat contest is the Mystery Move, a trick that can double a competitor’s score. The rider paddles to where two
currents meet, creating a whirlpool, which pulls rider and boat underwater. Points are scored for depth reached and time submerged. “it takes a lot of skill to stay down”, says O’Hara. “i was at a training spot in the USA called Fascination Alley in 2010 and managed a personal best of 15 seconds.” O’Hara concedes that most people haven’t yet heard of her sport. Six years ago, neither had she. “i’ve always been sporty and really competitive,” she explains. “When i was nine i tried kayaking and was hooked. it wasn’t until my early 20s when i was competing in international freestyle kayak competitions that i heard about squirt boating.” O’Hara, a long-time member of her local canoe club in leeds and a regular at the UK’s National Watersports Centre near Nottingham, is now an expert in both disciplines, funding trips to train and compete by working part-time as a sports co-ordinator and trainer. last summer, all the hard work paid off. O’Hara won gold in freestyle kayak and squirt boating at the iCF Freestyle World Championships in Germany. “One win would have been amazing,” she grins, “to get two was unbelievable.” With two world championship titles now tucked under her wetsuit, O’Hara’s opening up her world to a new generation. “You’ve got to be skilled just to get into one of these tiny boats,” she laughs. “but the sport is getting more popular. Hopefully my success is pushing that.”
“It’s like gymnastics in a kayak. In competition, our routines of moves should look effortless and graceful”
See Claire show off her skills at The London Boat Show on January 8-15. Londonboatshow.com
Dive master: Record-breaking freediver Herbert Nitsch knows how to avoid the bends
b u l l e va r d
It is said that freedivers don’t get the bends. The world’s best says his one-breath brethren are as susceptible as anyone who goes deep. Our scientist explains why
photography: mauritius. illustration: mandy fischer
The diver “some believe it’s not possible to get the bends as a freediver,” says austrian freediver herbert nitsch, 41, whose world record dive of 214m in 2007 earned him the soubriquet the deepest man on earth. “But that’s completely untrue. there’s no perfect formula to staying safe, it depends on the dive’s depth and length, if you’ve done other dives that day, your fitness and hydration. going to 200m can be safe and going to 20m can be unsafe. “on the way back up from a deep dive i decrease my speed, and make a stop of one minute at a depth of 10m. then, after i’ve reached the surface, i go back down with a supply of 100 per cent oxygen. this helps remove potentially harmful nitrogen from the system. freediving is safe when you know what you’re doing.” The docTor “consider for a moment a bottle of sparkling water or fizzy drink,” says dr martin apolin of the institute of physics in Vienna. “Why, when you open it, does the liquid inside effervesce? understanding this helps us to understand how a freediver stays safe on his return to the surface. “as he descends deeper, the pressure experienced by the freediver increases. the dependence of pressure, P, from the depth of water is described by pascal’s law: P = x g x h – where is the water density, g is the acceleration due to gravity and h stands for the depth of water. Water density is a constant, as is g. thus, the pressure of water is proportional to its depth. total pressure under water is the sum of air pressure – given as one atmosphere, 1atm – and water pressure. the latter increases by 1atm per 10m of depth. “now consider henry’s law: the amount of gas that dissolves in a liquid is dependent on its pressure above the liquid. the higher the pressure, the more gas is dissolved. in our sealed bottle of fizz, there is more pressure than normal, or overpressure, and so carbon dioxide dissolves in the liquid. When the bottle is opened the pressure decreases and a portion of the previously dissolved co2 in the water escapes. “diving in deep water, more gasses dissolve in body tissues. if the diver returns to the surface too quickly from too great a depth, it’s like opening the bottle: dissolved gas escapes, most often as tiny bubbles of nitrogen in the blood, and can result in decompression sickness, more commonly known as the bends. symptoms of the bends include pain, nausea and seizures, and in extreme cases, strokes, paralysis and death. “divers using tanks are more likely to get the bends than freedivers, because they are taking in more gaseous nitrogen with each breath. (helium and hydrogen, found in some mixtures of breathing gas used in dicing cylinders, can also cause problems in rare instances.) But all divers are susceptible and all divers, whether on one breath or two tanks, carefully monitor rates of ascent, dive durations and depths to counter potential problems.” www.herbertnitsch.com
B U L L E VA R D
Solar storms, colliding planets, alien invasions. The mystics are still debating exactly what will happen in 2012, yet there’s one thing they all agree on: that the world will definitely end this year
The Mayan people of what is now Central and South America used three calendars, one of which, the Long Count, began in year 3114 BC and ends 5125 years later on December 21, 2012. Some think this signifies the end of the world, but others suggest that for the Maya, this date is what Millennium Eve was for us – a numerically interesting end of an era and nothing more. The Maya actually looked way beyond this date; inscriptions on the tomb of Mayan ruler Pacal the Great point to his reincarnation in 4772 AD.
Prophets of the apocalypse, led by alien contactee Nancy Lieder, believe that a planet – as yet undiscovered by science – is on an irregular course around the sun, lasting 3,600 years. According to their calculations, 2012 is the year this Planet X will collide with the Earth and destroy all life upon it. “These claims are not based on any fact,” NASA states. If a planet really was on a collision course with Earth, we’d see it coming. A dwarf planet by the name of Eris is on an unusual orbit, but it is unlikely to pass within 6.4 billion kilometres of Earth.
445,000 US author Zecharia Sitchin believed the planet Nibiru, out way past Neptune, was home to a race of Extraterrestrial life forms who came to Earth in search of minerals and especially gold 445,000 years before the Christian era. As extracting the gold was too arduous, they put apes to work for them and crossed the apes’ DNA with theirs in the process. The result was Homo sapiens. Sitchin – who felt that the Anunnaki gods documented on Bronze Age clay tablets were actually the race of Nibiruians – died in 2010, two years before his predicted collision of Earth and Nibiru.
The sunspot cycle – intense bursts of solar activity – reaches its apogee every 11 years, with the next due in 2012. Some astrometeorologists expect a “solar tsunami” that will devastate Earth. A 2006 NASA study said, “the next cycle will be 30 to 50 per cent stronger than the last”. Electricity supplies could fail and our atmosphere could heat up and throw all satellites off course. However, an updated report says the next solar storm will be in 2013 and of below-average intensity. The astrometeorologists are sticking with their global catastrophe thing.
340,000,000 But it’s not all doom and gloom! For December 31 this year, the Mayans also foresaw an aligning of all the planets in our solar system, and the sun, along the equator of the Milky Way. Such a set-up would open up a gateway to Heaven: not the end of humanity, but the beginning of our next journey. Astronomers, with their maths and their measurements and their absolutes, tell us that alignments like this only happen once every 340 million years, with perfect alignment occurring only every 180 trillion years. However, they aren’t saying if the heavenly pathway comes too. www.endoftheworld2012.net
WORDS: FLORIAN OBKIRCHER. PHOTOGRAPHY: PICTUREDESK.COM (4), LAIF
Nancy Lieder also warns of worldwide doom in 2012 that will be caused by polar shifting. (Before or after the planets collide, Nance?) Aliens from the star Zeta Reticuli told her as much telepathically, reporting everything from impending floods to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. The pole shift hypothesis suggests that the north and south poles switch every 250,000 years. In 2001, evidence of ‘true polar wander’, a rotational phenomenon due to the Earth not being a perfect sphere, said the poles had shifted just five degrees in the last 130 million years.
THE POLE POSITION FOR TRUE FANS …
Spidermen Displaying gravity-defying skills as they construct web-like support structures made of bamboo around the towers of Hong Kong – no it’s not something from a comic book, but the local ‘spiders’ doing their scaffolding day jobs Words: Jeremy Torr Photography: Palani Mohan
t 250m above ground in Hong Kong, you’re so high you can see beyond the city limits. You can see past the neighbouring islands and across to mainland China. But even at that height, if you glance sideways you might see a young man with one leg hooked around a swaying bamboo pole, doing his job. He’s building a bamboo scaffold with his bare hands. Still swaying, he reaches down to grip the end of a long bamboo pole, passed up by another scaffolder. He swings it elegantly and accurately into place, balancing its weight against gravity. He sets it at 45 degrees to the upright and, without stopping, reaches down to his waist-belt and pulls out a 2m length of thin plastic banding. With the pole held fast in position against his upright, he spins the banding round and round the two bamboo lengths, tying them tightly together. His pole stops swaying – and another piece in the bamboo scaffold jigsaw is safely in place. He edges a metre sideways to the next tie point, concentrating hard. He is Yu On, a taap pang (Cantonese for bamboo scaffolder). “Every scaffold we build is different,” says On, a muscular, crew-cut veteran of the taap pang who weave together one of Hong Kong’s most recognisable features. “It has to fit the site we’re working on.”
Tied noT died
On, who has been in the trade for decades, now works as a team manager looking after gangs of scaffolders who work on a contract basis. He doesn’t get up into the elegant, delicate bamboo structures as much as he used to, but he hasn’t forgotten how it’s done. “The important thing is being able to build straight and strong even with curved poles – and do it fast,” he says. And build they do. Bamboo scaffolding isn’t just used for small jobs. It’s used for massive projects like the multi-million-dollar Chatham Gate development in Kowloon. That’s a two-year job. Elsewhere it hangs over the tiniest of back streets, clinging to walls and buildings, cantilevering out of windows and stairways, giving access to an army of workers reconditioning, upgrading and demolishing existing buildings. According to Dr Francis So, the only man in Hong Kong with a doctorate in scaffolding technology, using the right bamboo is an art as well as a skill. “The best bamboo grows halfway between the river and the hill,” he explains. “Hill bamboo is stiff, but can have kinks in it and too many knuckles or knots. Riverbank bamboo is long and much straighter – but can be too flexible.” Of the thousands of species of bamboo that grow in the wild, only two are used, and mostly grown in China’s Guangxi province. The two species are Mao Jue for the big verticals and diagonals, and Kao Jue for horizontal struts. The exact dimensions between joints and poles are usually planned out in advance by construction engineers to a standard set of guidelines, but sometimes the site or the building shape demand onthe-spot design. This makes bamboo scaffolding an unusual mix of tradition, art and skill. And friction. “The workers use the plastic ties,” explains Dr So, “and they wrap them round a joint six times, really tight. Then they twist the ends of the tie around each 32
building on TradiTion
“Parts of the Great Wall of China would most likely have been built with bamboo scaffold, and the traditions they had back then have been passed down to us today,” says Dr Francis So, chairman of bamboo scaffolding contractor, WLS Holdings. The complex support structures around the buildings of Hong Kong are still made of bamboo – though now the process of building them is orchestrated by construction engineers to a rigid set of guidelines. Scaffolders like this one (left) are highly skilled, yet despite earning bonuses for working through typhoons, their relatively low wages do not afford them the luxury of living in the buildings they help build and maintain. Below: the bamboo is usually shipped in from China’s Guangxi province. Different types are used in scaffolding – Mao Jue for the big verticals and diagonals, and Kao Jue for the horizontal struts.
very green recycling
A new approach to making bamboo scaffold even greener is being developed by Dr Francis So’s ‘Blue Ocean’ research. “At the moment we just dump the old scaffold,” he explains. “If it has been up for a year or so it might have dried and become brittle, or developed some fungus inside, which weakens it.” The bamboo will eventually rot away and doesn’t leach out any kind of hazardous substances, unlike metal scaffold poles – but even so it’s a waste, and the companies have to pay for its disposal. As a result, Dr So’s company is looking at ways to recycle the used bamboo into paper, textiles and even charcoal for barbecues. “We are hoping this will both solve our disposal problem and make bamboo scaffolding even greener than it already is,” he says. Bamboo poles are attached to each other in a complex grid (left) using layers of plastic ties (below) to create the scaffolding of Hong Kong.
danger? WhaT danger? It’s not dangerous – as long as you take care, says Sunny Yau, senior manager at bamboo scaffolding contractor WLS. It’s more a case of taking the right precautions, so if something happens you have a back-up plan. Like wearing a helmet, always strapping on a harness (and snapping it to something solid). And never, ever taking safety for granted. “The problem sometimes comes when you get a scaffolder who 36
has been doing it for a while and thinks they know everything,” he says. “That’s when workers start to take short cuts, putting themselves at risk.” The safety record for scaffolders is generally good and notably better than that of Hong Kong building workers in general. Most accidents happen during dismantling, when the delicate web of tension and compression forces is sprung apart by men with knives – while they are still standing on poles. 37
uP Where They belong
Known locally as ‘spiders’, Hong Kong’s bamboo scaffolders are a common sight high above the streets of the city. They are a tight-knit group who go out together at weekends to drink and bet on horses. But with long hours, scary conditions and no job security, only 30-50 new trainees sign up to do the job each year.
other and tuck the twist into the gap between the poles.” So that’s it? No mechanical fastenings, no screws or clamps, no spring-loaded tensioners – no knots, even? Up to several hundred metres above ground? “That’s right,” says Dr So. “These huge lattice structures are all held together by friction.” Its supporters say bamboo scaffolding is more flexible, safer to work on, more resilient and simpler to erect than metal. One thing’s for sure – bamboo is light, so even smaller scaffolders can scramble into position with a 5kg, 7m pole slung across a shoulder. The list goes on: it’s cheap, biodegradable and if you want some more you just grow it. Bamboo, clearly, is great stuff, but making those wonderful airy structures that creep around the highest buildings across Hong Kong’s neon-splashed precincts and islands takes more than just a great raw material. It takes an experienced bamboo spiderman who can work all day long in difficult and extremely scary conditions, year round, on a contract basis with no job security. It’s enough to make you wonder if it’s worth it. According to Yu On, the answer is no.
no Job for young Men
“I have three sons. They all followed me into taap pang, but eventually they all gave it up,” says On. They have gone into other construction work, easier jobs. He says scaffolding is very tough, and the pay isn’t that good either. He’s right – a good scaffolder will typically earn only about $HK1,400 (€140) a day. “The pay rates do go up if there’s a typhoon, when it gets more dangerous,” he says matter-of-factly. “Then you can get double or triple that.” So a good scaffolder can keep himself and his family in food and under a roof, but won’t be buying into any of those apartments he is helping build or maintain. There are other consolations. Because the scaffolders are a small, tight-knit group, kind of the edge-dwellers of the construction industry (“some people look down on scaffolders, usually the people who don’t want to study come and work on the bamboo,” says Sunny Yau, senior project manager at scaffold contractor WLS), they go out together at the weekend, drink beer, bet on horses and play cards. It’s a man’s life – but where are the women? “There used to be a couple; they managed OK because the poles weren’t so heavy, but they didn’t stay,” admits On with a shrug. But women do feature. One scaffolder says the rugged, dangerous, muscular image worked to his advantage when scaffolding overseas. “It was great! While I was there I hooked up with several different women,” he laughs. Nonetheless, with a sign-up rate of only around 30-50 new trainees a year thanks to the dangerous image and poor work conditions, the number of certificated bamboo scaffolders is dropping – even though demand is rising. The main reason for that is price, as a bamboo structure costs 30 per cent less than a metal one, so its unlikely to die any time soon. It’s also much easier to manhandle in tight situations – like fixing and cleaning the thousands of neon signs that litter the streets of Hong Kong. Even better, it needs only two components: poles and ties. “The big difference is it takes skill to put
bamboo scaffolding up safely,” says Yau. “It takes longer, several years, to learn how to do it properly.” No two bamboo poles are the same, which doesn’t make it any easier. They can vary in diameter and length, and the quality has to be just right – not too green, not too dry. A good taap pang worker can select the best poles and rig 100m2 in one day. That’s about 70-80 poles selected, hoisted, positioned and tied. A big construction job could use a total of 20,000m2 of scaffold. That’s 16,000 individual lengths of bamboo that have to be tied into place by a bunch of guys that work six days a week, every week of the year. No wonder they’re fit. There are accidents. Dr So’s brother was hit by a dropped pole. Luckily, he was wearing a helmet, so the pole glanced off and only gouged a massive chunk out of his leg. The taap pang know the dangers and live with them. Hong Kong has typhoons every year between April and October, and although the high winds don’t usually blow workers off the scaffold, they often smash part of the structure. “That’s when climbing up partly wrecked scaffolds to dismantle or repair them can be really dangerous,” says Yau. It’s not a job for the faint of heart.
neW ciTy, old TradiTions
Because the job has its roots in thousands of years of tradition (it goes back at least 1,500 years), bamboo scaffolders have their share of ceremonies and superstitions. “Parts of the Great Wall of China would most likely have been built with bamboo scaffold,” says Dr So, “and the traditions they had back then have been passed down to us today.” Taap pang respect three main Old Masters, or Elders. These are Luo Pan, the Master of the Nets, and Wa Quong. All are venerated and respected in ceremonies on their dedicated lunar calendar days, when processions and offerings, ceremonies and incense take the place of a normal workday. There are deeper beliefs, too. “To keep bad spirits and ghosts at bay, scaffolders used to hang bamboo peelings around their waist,” says Dr So. They also used to hang bamboo loops on the scaffold at night to keep it safe from harm; some still do. “There aren’t many of the old traditions still going today, though” says Dr So. Curiously, then, there are still hundreds of tiny tinplate altars with smoking joss sticks and food offerings at the base of construction sites across the island. Meanwhile, back at the 80th storey, the construction work goes on. Don’t think about the tiniest mistake being the last one. No matter, it gets so hot you dehydrate in minutes, or get lashed by tropical rainstorms and drained by 99 per cent humidity. Being a taap pang isn’t about nice working conditions and a top-tier salary. It’s about the skill, the agility and the feel for a craft that has survived for thousands of years. It’s about building something nobody else in the world can. And what about not looking down from those gut-wrenching heights, so you don’t get scared? “That’s rubbish,” says Yu. “If you get scared looking down then you’re in the wrong job.” Watch the ‘spiders’ in action on www.youtube.com
foot forward When he’s not writing best-selling novels and teaching, he’s scaling Everest and running ultramarathons at the North Pole. And Michael Collins has plenty more tricks up his sleeve Words: Declan Quigley Photography: Thomas Butler
For some people, life only really starts to make sense when they stop running and stand still. For Michael Collins, it’s when he stops that things get difficult. Like the day in 1995 when a stroll instead of a sprint to the supermarket through a Chicago ghetto ended in a slashing with a serrated letter opener wielded by a drug addict. Or the time during the 1999 Everest Challenge Marathon when he lay supine on Himalayan scree, with his oxygenstarved lungs in danger of choking him into life-threatening hypoxia. His response to each crisis, as always during his pinball-style trip through a dizzying array of extraordinary projects and obsessions, is to take to his heels, racing his way to sanity and serenity at world championship-level ultramarathon 40
pace. While his expanding oeuvre of seven novels and short stories is already ensconced as a collection in Trinity College, Dublin, and his status is already elevated by one of his books being nominated for the Booker Prize shortlist (along with numerous other international accolades), Collins refuses to let the emotional intensity of literary creativity consume all his energy. Instead, with another novel brewing, a young family clamouring for attention and various other projects, philanthropic and otherwise, filling his diary, the Michigan-based dynamo still finds time to pound out the miles towards the World 100k Championships, which will take place in Italy next April. Having led the Irish squad at the 2010 World 100k Championships in Gibraltar,
Collins is going back for more in Italy in April, where he hopes to equal or better his 2010 result of bronze medal. But more than any chase for medal, it is the privilege to be involved in “one of the noblest sub-cultures of sporting masochism” which carries him through the daily drudgery of training. Collins is dapper in a relaxed way, casually dressed but with a clear eye towards personal grooming. Setting off the precision informality of his jeans and black shirt is a pair of well-made black leather brogues that he kicks off for the photoshoot; adaptable, rugged and a bit of a sartorial throwback to the Ireland he raced out of in 1983, but which has not yet left him in any emotional sense. Dark, brooding good looks suggest Pierce Brosnan might get the job of playing him in a movie biopic. But there is nothing of his fellow countryman’s clumsily reconstructed Irish accent in Collins’s soft tones, the edges of which are barely scuffed by almost three decades spent living in the US. His friendly, barely prompted delivery is an almost non-stop, streamof-consciousness monologue and carries an Americanese inquisitorial slope at the end of each phrase which seems less Dawson’s Creek and more about interrogating the idea he is delivering – the writer in him examining every idea and testing it for delivery. It’s certainly been a life less ordinary, a whistle-stop tour of the US and then on to the four corners of the globe, with occasional staging posts for significant, life-altering experiences. Collins, now 47, was brought up in Limerick and Dublin, his early years spent flitting from school to school. His father’s job as head of CIE Tours, a holiday sales wing of the national transport company, seems to have helped set the tone for a wanderlust existence. Athletic prowess soon blossomed and a year spent in high school in New York in 1981 produced a string of top middledistance performances that helped earn him an athletics scholarship from a selection of universities looking to boost their track credentials. Before that could be contemplated, Collins returned home to St Munchin’s in Limerick, to complete the last two years of his secondary school education as a boarder in a school with a rich athletics heritage although, at that time, no proper weights room. After leaving St Munchin’s for good in 1983, he headed back to the States and his choice of athletics scholarship. The 42
Michael (left) and German runner carsten kolle during in the 2006 north Pole Marathon
contrast between Irish second level and US third level couldn’t have been more marked. Young Collins, advised by middle distance legend Eamonn Coghlan, and showing maturity beyond his years, opted for a college that placed at least equal emphasis on academic development as it did on sports results. “I met Coghlan out there and he kind of mentored me in terms of looking at the school and looking beyond it,” says Collins. “I could have gone to Arkansas or one of those places, but I ended up going to
‘i’ve got to get fast’ was his Mantra as he laY in his hospital bed
Notre Dame in Indiana. I just thought the competitiveness of division one sport all the time means that academia gets marginalised. It wasn’t as high powered at Notre Dame, whereas the other schools were producing national champions all the time.” Without a working visa and not interested in returning to Ireland, his college summer holiday the following year was spent driving from town to town throughout the Midwest, sleeping in his car and occasionally running the gauntlet of less enlightened locals on training runs that honed his fitness and, just as importantly, helped reveal a fast-changing nation to a newcomer. Having escaped from the oppressive greyness of pre-boom Ireland, Collins, while passionately nationalistic, was in no hurry to return too soon and the roadtrip exploration of the US was repeated
Michael collins age: 47 Born: Limerick lives: Dowagiac, Michigan, USA education: BA & MA from The University of Notre Dame (’87, ’91) and a doctorate from The University of Illinois (1997) Marathon wins include: The Last Marathon (Antarctica, 1997). Redwoods Marathon. (Northern California 1997) The Himalayan 100 Mile Stage Race (India/Nepal Border 1999) Everest Challenge Marathon (India/Nepal 1999) The Sub-Sahara Marathon (Saharawi Refugee Camps, Algeria, 2006) The North Pole Marathon (North Pole, 2006) Bronze medallist at World 100k Masters Championships, (Gibraltar, 2010. Captained Irish team)
during the following two summers as he immersed himself in his new culture. Embracing the Notre Dame College experience to the full, he emerged from the Indiana city of South Bend with a masters degree in literature, married and with a used-up body which was crying for a break from competition. His decision to marry his medical student girlfriend, Heidi, while still in college was, he freely admits, prompted by a looming need for legal status, though it was clearly no Green Card marriage of convenience given they are still together. In thrall to academia at this time, Collins then threw himself into studying for a PhD in literature at the University of Illinois in Chicago where, during the most sedentary phase of his hectic life, he had his encounter with the drug-addled attacker in a shadowy back street near his apartment. The unprovoked frenzy, which was witnessed by his wife, had a profound effect on him. The immediate impact was that it left him with a harder attitude to the denizens of Chicago’s mean streets. Of more long-term significance, it got Collins back into running. “I’ve got to get fast” was his mantra as he lay in his hospital bed, and soon his scurrying from building to building developed into a full blown rekindling of his love for the sport that had originally helped finance his studies. “That got me back into running,” he says, recalling the attack and his urge to move on quickly afterwards. “We literally couldn’t move out of the area. They could be a bit hard-nosed
Joy and relief after winning
the aMeriCan sCene was More about the traCk and raw speed and taCtiCs about rent, about getting out of your lease and that type of thing. It was a mile and a half from the school so... “We just waited. There was a nice woman and I’d just got published and she wanted signatures and I said to her, ‘This is what happened to me.’ She said ‘Well, you signed the lease, if you can find someone else to take over the lease…’ I can’t remember, it was like three or four months. So I started running all the time... “This arm was OK, it was, like, 22 stitches but in the back he’d chipped a vertebra and that was sore for a good while. I was conscious of it. I did that, and that got me back in to running and I did the Chicago Marathon in ’95 or so.” His marathon endeavours produced a time within five minutes off the Olympic qualifying standard and revealed hitherto untapped potential in endurance running. Always testing and pushing the boundaries, the wonderful world of ultra-long distance and adventure running opened up before him just as a career as a writer was germinating. Victories in the Last Marathon in Antarctica and the redwoods Marathon in California in ’97 displayed a talent not fully expressed over shorter distances. He admits now that the emergence of the ‘ultra’ brand of running very much plays to his athletic strengths. “I didn’t like the track as much as cross country,” he says. “The American scene was more about the track and real raw speed and tactics. All that stuff. You have to play into it but it wasn’t my forte. I preferred to be on long runs up and down hills and through cross country. “The 5km distance was kind of too short and you’d finish the race and think, ‘If only that was a bit longer...” Before Collins could complete his doctorate – though finish it he did in 1998 because he’s nothing if not persistent – he was pulled in a new direction as a result of taking a part-time job looking after the computers in the college library. Natural curiosity led him to learn how the computers functioned so he could help users get the most out of them, and soon he had taught himself programming. A chance encounter led 43
short fiction The Meat Eaters (Also published as he Man Who Dreamt of Lobsters) The Feminists Go Swimming
Books By Michael collins: novels The Life And Times Of A Teaboy Emerald Underground The Keepers of Truth The Resurrectionists Lost Souls The Secret Life Of E Robert Pendleton Midnight In A Perfect Life
him to meeting up with a group of computer academics working on internet applications. He completed his PhD, but his head had been turned and he was soon headhunted by Microsoft to be a programmer at their ‘campus’ in Seattle, which was tantamount to a royal summons in those days. For an outsider, it was literally, as well as metaphorically, a tough place to find your way into and, for many, just as tough to find a way out. “Seattle’s filled with all these floating bridges, so it’s a really hard city to navigate by car,” says Collins. “It was around 19km to work and it could take you two hours, so running was easier.” The thrill of being at the cutting edge of the home computer revolution soon palled as he contemplated interminable meetings fuelled by fast food. Surviving on as little as four hours’ sleep, he was soon working on his first novel, furtively drafting the acclaimed Keepers Of Truth longhand rather than risk it being discovered in a computer sweep. The treadmill at the gym became his other refuge, an outlet for his boundless energy and an important conduit in the creative process. “Beginning a book or a story on a run has always been for me the most natural process,” he has written. “I could not imagine sitting before a blank piece of paper.” A mind like Collins’s needs plenty of active stimulation and risk is rarely something to be avoided for long. The repetitive treadmill sessions were broken up occasionally by runs through the trails near the campus, with attacks by bears an ever-present threat. Likewise in his career, with a new outlook since that fateful attack in Chicago, he wasn’t about to fritter away his existence on the corporate mousewheel for very long. Eschewing the promise of untold riches and the heart attack that could all too easily come with it, Collins left his plum job and went full time as a writer. He has few regrets. “It takes courage to just walk away from the Microsoft stuff and at a certain point say, ‘I’m not gaining anything here,’” says Collins. “You become fairly wealthy, but that’s the end in itself.” “You just say, ‘I’ll finish before I become comfortable to the point where I don’t have to work ever again’, and then go off and do other things. “I’ve seen enough people, especially with the dotcom thing, who did leave Microsoft for other companies and had vast sums of money and just frittered it
surviving on four hours sleep, he was soon working on his first novel away. I meet them in passing and they’re just doing nothing with themselves... “Either that or these people bought themselves colossal mansions around the Seattle area and are now sad, pathetic characters. They have become antidrink, anti-meat, anti-everything. They’re kind of lost and trying to recreate themselves in a vacuum.” Following the publication and success of Keepers Of Truth, Collins entered and won the Himalayan 100-mile race and the Everest Challenge Marathon. Without any altitude acclimatisation, he scrambled up to 4,267m, pausing only when the thin air caused him to black out. Seeing the distant figure of his nearest competitor approaching from lower down the slopes triggered the urge to resume running when wise counsel, had it been available, would have recommended a trip to hospital. He raced on to victory that day and won the stage race outright, carving himself a reputation as one of sport’s true hard men, while making new discoveries about his character and his place in the world as he did so. The numerous stress fractures suffered during that event halted his running for a while, but with the help of his wife, by now a rehab doctor, he returned to complete what he called the Fire and Ice challenge in 2006. In just over a month he raced the Sahara Marathon in temperatures in excess of 30°C , followed in short order by almost -40°C cold as he shuffled around the Arctic in snow shoes. Collins likes risk, he enjoys being around it, and the life-threatening experiences of himself and his family have only served to heighten his experience and understanding. The impulse for his most recent novel, Midnight In A Perfect Life, came when his daughter was suffering from associated complications of a benign brain tumour. It also provided the impetus for a return to education in a small town in Michigan, this time as a tutor of a creative writing course for people returning to education themselves,
often ex-military personnel. “With my daughter’s condition, there was a semiconscious decision to go back and put myself around people who’d put their lives on the line,” says Collins. “Because everything is kind of vicarious, doing the sporting events, putting yourself out there but not putting yourself out there. “To actually bump into people who have actually been beside people in fatal explosions, who’ve lost people. None of them were physically injured, but were psychologically damaged. “I’d hate to be accused of mining those people for my own interest. I think in the three years I helped a lot of them, and a lot of them wrote novels and wrote about their experience. At the end of the day we just become jaded and I’d hate to get to the stage where I just go, ‘Uh, another war story, another rehashing of this.’ I’d have less value at that point.” And so he moves on again. He captained the Irish team in the World 100k Championships in Gibraltar last year, finishing 49th overall out of a field of more than 200 and winning bronze in the Masters Division. Where previously he had spoken of retirement from running, now, relatively injury free, he is looking forward to returning to competitive action in Italy next year and rejoicing at having discovered a branch of sport with a much longer shelf life than most. running has been a constant in a life of relentless change and indeed has often been a vehicle to facilitate that change. While he is busily working on a new novel (it’s set in a post-apocalyptic world without mass communication, apparently) he is also clocking up the miles, more than a hundred a week, for the next World Championships. “If someone asks what I am,” he explains, “then I say I’m disciplined but undisciplined, as I’m a product of the ’80s, I want to go where I feel and venture into things, then I try to do the best possible job I can.” If Collins has a philosophy that can be encapsulated in a phrase, it emerges when he’s describing his admiration for his namesake, the famous Irish revolutionary figure Michael Collins. Although he now understands that any suggestions that they were related were merely stories made up by a less than angelic auntie, a nun, he still retains great affinity for the ‘Big Fella’s’ fabled ‘can-do’ attitude. “Go places, get what you can and see where it gets you,” he says. www.michaelcollinsauthor.com
ANY WHICH WAY YOU CAN
Red Bull BC One is the event where the world’s best B-Boys come to vie for the accolade of ‘numero uno’. And with so much at stake, it’s all about the winning… Words: Florian Obkircher Photography: Denis Klero 46
Uprocks, windmills, turtles, freezes, headspins and hand hops, US B-Boy El Ni単o really puts the moves on the Red Bull BC One crowd in Moscow as he aims to take the championship belt at the first attempt
After practising his moves and signing a few autographs, El Niño sits down to gather his thoughts before stepping into battle on the Red Bull BC One stage. The B-Boy’s real name is Alex Diaz; his cousin dubbed him El Niño in 1997, a reference to the weather phenomenon that was causing massive storms and cyclones at the time: “Man, you’re just like El Niño when you dance. You spin so fast!”
The spotlights come to life. Red and blue beams scythe through the arena. The DJ drops the needle on the record. Boom! Cheers explode from the audience. Pimply youths in baseball caps leap from their seats and throw their arms in the air. A guy with dreadlocks steps onto the stage and roars into the microphone, his voice barely audible over the roar of the fans. “Moscow, are you ready?!” They’re ready all right. Many queued for hours in snow at Moscow’s Circus Arena to buy tickets. They’ve travelled from the farthest corners of Russia to be among the 3,500 here at Red Bull BC One. Because this is their World Cup. The world’s 16 best B-Boys against each other in an instant knock-out format. “I’m on the road all year, watching the most important competitions,” says German B-Boy and promoter Thomas Hergenröther. For the past 30 years he’s been organising the biggest battles in the scene. Eight years ago he established Red Bull BC One and is constantly looking for new talent. “I’m looking for B-Boys with personality who can entertain on the stage, because at Red Bull BC One you not only have to be a perfect dancer, you also have to perform with the crowd as well as your opponent.” Hergenröther has recruited 10 dancers who fulfil these criteria. Five further competitors have qualified through national elimination competitions on four continents. The only certain starter: last year’s winner, Neguin from Brazil. That’s 16 B-Boys from 10 countries. But only one can take the championship belt home. Five minutes before the first battle, the B-Boys are in the training room behind the stage. As the crowd howls outside and camera crews and security staff rush past the back entrance, all is quiet in the lounge. Roxrite from the USA warms up on the small dancefloor. Neguin, eyes closed, chills out on a bean bag. One false step can send you out of the contest – all the participants here know that. El Niño certainly does. The US B-Boy with Venezuelan roots is here for the first time. He stares straight ahead, as if dance scenes are playing in his mind’s eye. His gaze then wanders over 49
to his opponent, who is doing stretches a few metres away. For a moment they make eye contact. A quick, respectful nod. Then, “ding!” The bell chimes, someone calls out his name. El Niño jumps up. He twirls his head, hops like a boxer from foot to foot as if he were trying to shake off the trance of the last few minutes. The gate to the ring swings open, El Niño takes one last deep breath and steps into the spotlight. At 21, he’s the youngest Red Bull BC One participant and outside the ring, he’s a bit of a joker. His real name is Alex Diaz, but here he’s El Niño (‘the kid’ in Spanish). At first glance the name fits, and not just because of his size. His brown eyes sparkle, his moustache is downy. He comes across like the guy in school everyone likes: funny, but still cool. “This is like a family reunion,” he says. “It only gets serious when we meet as opponents on the dancefloor.” That moment – when your friend becomes your rival – is one he knows well. For despite his youth, he’s already been dancing longer than most of his colleagues. The New York breakdance pioneer, Float, used to change his nappies when he was a baby. And he’d nudge the baby’s feet so that he spun around on his back. “Thanks to Float I was doing spins before I could talk,” he says. At the age of three he was getting breakdance lessons from his uncles. At 14, he was on tour with rapper Missy Elliott and appearing on stage with Busta Rhymes. He’s been a pro dancer for two years. He’s on the road for three weeks of every month – travelling to workshops, taking part in competitions or judging other dances. In September he was invited to a Red Bull BC One elimination round in Chicago and won easily. “I went in there and knew I was going to make it,” he says. The qualification meant one of his biggest dreams had come true. “It’s like when you’ve been working in a job forever. You do everything to get promoted – and then it happens. When you’ve got Red Bull BC One on your CV, you don’t have to worry about job offers anymore,” he says. “The whole breakdance world will be watching online – and that’s amazing.” It’s been a week since his last major event, the Battle Of The Year, 50
Roxrite puts in an assured second-round performance thatâ€™s bang on the beat before his friend El NiĂąo wheels out a routine of equally impressive moves
Above: Host for the evening, Rakaa (from LA hip-hop group Dilated Peoples), stands between Red Bull BC One entrants Roxrite (left) and El Niño (right) as the jurors cast their votes. Left: As soon as the last juror lifts his board with Roxrite’s name on it, El Niño storms the stage and embraces his friend, despite being outdanced on the night. Below: Roxrite went on to win the whole event, beating Venezuelan B-Boy Lil G in the final
in Montpellier, France, in which he was a losing semi-finalist. The aim here is to do better, indeed, to win. But a likely opponent in round two is this year’s favourite: Roxrite, a gangly 20-something who’s already won every major competition in the breakdance world, except this one. He also happens to be El Niño’s hero and friend. Each despatches their first-round opponent with ease, so in round two, they’re matched in a head-to-head worthy of any final. It’s a cold, rainy Moscow Saturday night and backstage as they catch sight of each other behind the stage, they smile. Bump with the right arm, hug with the left. “It had to happen,” says Roxrite. “Good luck kid.” One last bump and it’s on. The DJ lays down a Latin beat, Roxrite yanks his cap back, pulls up his trousers and starts with some toprocks. Clean legwork, then a freeze – headstand with bent legs – into a horizontal. He starts spinning on his own axis… Then it’s El Niño’s turn. He’s been holding back with mischievous gestures, but there’s no sign of fraternal respect when he starts his routine, with uprocks, turtles, hand hops, windmills, freezes and headspins. The audience roars. The two step up to the judges and the five scoreboards go up. Roxrite. Roxrite. El Niño. El Niño. And: Roxrite. El Niño looks down. He’s out in the second round. Then he turns to his opponent, claps, the two embrace. “At the last moment I decided not to make my risky move because I thought I would need it in a later round,” he says. “If I’d done it I would have gone through. But Roxrite is flawless and the judges respected that today. Anyway, losing to my big brother, I can live with that. I went up to him and said, ‘You threw me out, but now you have to win.’” And that’s exactly what Roxrite does in a break-neck finale against Lil G from Venezuela. As disappointed as he was after his own elimination, El Niño’s joy for the winner is all the greater. “He was incredible. Even when Lil G had the audience onside, Roxrite’s combinations were perfect. A worthy winner,” says El Niño, slapping his friend on the shoulder. “We’ll see each other next year. We have some unfinished business.” www.redbullbcone.com
South African surfers Grant â€˜Twiggyâ€™ Baker (pictured), Chris Bertish, Andrew Marr and Frank Solomon have built their big-wave reputation in the cold waters off the coast of Cape Town
Four South Africans stand out in the sport of big-wave surfing. Three pioneers and one young gun reveal a world that’s a lot tougher than you ever imagined
pHOTOGrApHy: NIC BOTHMA/pICTUrEdESk.COM
Words: Steve Smith It’s black down there. And eerily still. Black’s not a colour that one normally associates with surfing. Not even big-wave surfing. Blue… maybe green… or white when those multi-storey walls of water come crashing down. For Chris Bertish, though, it’s black. He’s a kilometre off the Californian coast, held down 40ft beneath a freezing winter ocean that’s currently buckling and heaving as lines of huge waves – some reaching as high as 60ft – roll across the surface above him. No light reaches him down here. This is Mavericks and Bertish is in the midst of a real-time nightmare at what is arguably the most dangerous spot in the world. Big-wave surfing is by its very nature dangerous, but even among the legendary breaks, Mavericks stands out as a killer. The best have died here… Mark Foo… Sion Milosky… all renowned big-wave exponents. Each winter, created by the planet’s biggest storms, deep ocean swell travels thousands of kilometres at great speed, only to find its path suddenly blocked by an unusually shaped rock formation rising up from the sea bed. This causes the hunkered-down wave to suddenly square up and dissipate its energy on a huge slab of rock. To sit in this impact zone, to paddle into one of these waves, to get to your feet and make the drop, bottom turn, and then scud along the face before pulling out earns you a special place among surfing’s big-wave elite. Get it wrong and you can end up where Bertish is now. Fall at Mavericks in these conditions and one of two things can happen. One, you can be dragged underwater for around 58 seconds, travelling just under one kilometre toward the shore. Backwards. That’s almost twice as fast as Usain Bolt can run 55
“Just about every other sport has rules that says you can’t do this or that. For me, surfing big waves is one place where I have complete freedom to do what I want and express myself with the ocean”
forwards. And while this all happens, you’ll be pummelled by thick, icy water that’s doing its level best to tear off your arms, legs and head. you’re trying hard to think of white fluffy clouds or whatever other happy oxygen-conserving place you go to calm your mind and heart rate. you’re also trying very hard not to think of the huge rocks all this water is about to throw you at. That’s still preferable to option two though… which is what Bertish is currently experiencing. Instead of being hurtled toward the shore, he’s been sucked down the face of Mavericks’ wave-inducing rock outcrop. And he’s been sucked down with such force that it’s even pulled down his 9ft surfboard – one that usually has the buoyancy to stay on the surface no matter what breaks over it. “It was like going over some kind of underwater waterfall,” recalls Bertish. “I just went down and down, and it got darker and darker. There was one thing going for me though… I was still attached to my leash.” The composite-rubber cord Velcroed to his ankle stretched to more than twice 56
“At one stage, maybe when I was younger and you have those pipe dreams, I felt it was possible to make a living out of this, but in South African big-wave surfing is just not big enough”
its size, but crucially, it didn’t snap. Using it as a guideline, Bertish hauls himself upwards until he reaches his board. Using what remains of his strength he grabs the nose, fully expecting to see light and breathe air. But it’s still dark. “I knew I was starting to black out,” says Bertish. The little black spots at the corners of my vision were starting to dance – but I held on and it suddenly got lighter, and I popped up on the surface…”
ertish went on to win the contest. And that, people, is what big-wave surfing is all about. yes it is about the adrenalin and the glory, but it’s also about the abyss, the cold Hades. Mostly, though, it’s about the ability to return from this place and paddle out for more. It’s a quality imbued in four South African surfers. A quality that has placed Chris Bertish, Grant ‘Twiggy’ Baker, Andrew Marr and Frank Solomon in the sport’s upper echelon and that has earned SA big-wave surfers a sizeable
reputation. It’s a reputation indelibly written in the cold waters of Cape Town. In winter, the city is basically a boot camp for aspirant big-wave surfers. The whipping north-wester herds in deep ocean monsters that stack up at three very heavy spots, all within a 15km radius: ‘Crayfish Factory’, ‘Sunset’… and the boardshort-soiling ‘dungeons’. Nowhere else in the world do you have three serious big-wave breaks so close together. And these aren’t aquamarine-watered tropical beaches that just happen to have large waves either. The winter sea of the Western Cape is a harsh environment. The water temperature can be an extremity-numbing 7°C or 8°C, the currents pull like a tugboat and underneath it all, 5m great white sharks are known to rocket up from the deep and grab their prey with such velocity that they breach the surface and arc through the air like some kind of devil’s dolphin. knowing how a big wave “works” – where it comes from and what it’s likely to do – are essential survival skills for a big-wave surfer. you’re part surfer, part meteorologist. Andrew Marr could write a doctoral thesis on dungeons.
pHOTOGrApHy: ANTONIA STEyN (3), ANT FOx (1)
“Preparation is everything in what we do and I find my mental readiness is related to my physical condition. The fitter, stronger and better I am surfing, the more mentally focused and prepared I will be”
“Legendary big-wave spots Waimea Bay in Hawaii and Mavericks are singlesourced waves, all lined up coming from one direction, and with long intervals. your take-off area is x-marks-the-spot specific. That means you know exactly where it’s dangerous and where it’s safe. At dungeons, though, the swell arrives from different angles and there can be an element of south and west to it. We also have strong winds closer to the coast that can further influence things. plus there are two outside reefs beyond dungeons – Vulcan and Tafelberg – that warp or refract the waves so you have all this crossover energy. your take-off spot can therefore be anywhere along a 300m sweep, making your safety zone much smaller. So yes, there’s a lot of aspects that make this a very tough wave.” Like Mavericks, dungeons is also just under a kilometre off shore beyond Hout
“There’s no big rainbow at the end of the tunnel… you just really, really have to want to surf big waves. There’s only five or six guys in the world who are making it as a career”
Bay’s Sentinel peak and at the Tafelberg reef, waves as high as 60ft trip over the deep-water rock reef with incredible power. Between 1999 and 2008 dungeons hosted the red Bull Big Wave Africa event – a now legendary contest that put Cape Town on the map as a big-wave spot, and also provided a platform for these four guys to announce their presence. True to the roots of the sport, red Bull Big Wave Africa was strictly a paddle-in event. rather than being towed into the wave by a Jet Ski and strapped into a small, manoeuvrable board, surfers had to paddle in on big guns. Unlike tow-in surfing where your speed allows you to catch a wave way before it breaks, the paddle-in variety is a far ballsier affair. To catch it, you have to paddle and take off when the wave’s at its critical point and then still make the vertical, near-free-fall drop to the bottom.
“I have had some bad wipeouts at places like Jaws, Mavericks and Todos,” remembers Twiggy Baker, “but none so intense as the one I had at the slab just up the reef from dungeons. I pulled into a barrel and it closed out with so much force that it knocked me out, put me in hospital and left me wondering what my name was for a few days.” Of the four surfers here, Baker stands out and, to some degree, stands apart. He’s the one guy who’s been able to turn this extreme sport into a full-time career. A few years back – pre-recession times – he snagged a major contract with Billabong that allowed him the funds to travel the world in pursuit of big swell. He has, of course, backed this up with some of the most talked about paddle-in rides ever. Baker has won all the major trophies and awards the sport has to offer: the Mavericks Surf
The currents pull like a tugboat, and underneath it all, huge great white sharks are known to rocket up from the deep 57
Contest, The Billabong xxL Big Wave and red Bull Big Wave Africa. “yes, it’s an amazing job, but there’s no real money in it,” says Baker. “Look, if I hadn’t had worked for 15 years to set myself up, I could never be doing what I am doing. Fortunately, Billabong pays me enough to travel the world and surf the biggest waves I can and that’s a gift. So to have to drop everything is easy and the travel becomes a part of the lifestyle, it’s something I enjoy. Watching a swell develop and hoping that the waves are going to be big and perfect, travelling all that way and seeing that you have made the correct call, there’s no feeling like it.” Bertish and Marr have travelled the same road. No less talented than Baker, they’ve put in equally hard yards. From 1999 to 2010, Marr – about as humble and polite a person as you’ll ever meet – spent a few months every year surfing in Hawaii, specifically at the iconic Waimea Bay. Ask his peers and they’ll tell you there aren’t many people around who have surfed this spot with more aplomb. Ask Marr and he’s typically modest: “Look, there are a lot of really, really good people surfing The Bay, but I felt comfortable out there.” With that kind of experience and his respectful approach to Hawaii’s notoriously tetchy local surfers, one would’ve expected an invite to The Quiksilver In Memory of Eddie Aikau – universally known as ‘The Eddie’. Held only if the swell is big enough, this is the premier Hawaiian big-wave contest. Unfortunately for Marr, an invite has not been forthcoming. “A few years ago I thought there was a possibility,” says Marr. “I seemed to gain steam – I did well at red Bull Big Wave Africa and at the Billabong xxL –
it’s been a bitter pill to swallow. After surfing Mavericks for over a decade and spending every cent he had (and a lot he didn’t), Bertish was finally invited to participate in the 2010 Mavericks Surf Contest. Given 36 hours notice, with his credit card and overdraft maxed, and having borrowed money from his brother, he arrived in California with hardly any money. And it turned out that fate was among the spectators watching that day.
he waves were massive. Even by Mavericks’ standards. Faces of up to 60ft were lining up, a magnitude usually deemed unpaddleable, but conditions were perfect – glassy and wind-free. The go-ahead was given and throughout the day the waves just got bigger and bigger. “I’d been surfing there for 15 years and I had never seen waves like that,” says Bertish. “I knew that if fell in a certain place I would not survive. That’s quite a dramatic feeling – especially when you’ve been surfing these waves for so long. That day redefined what big-wave paddle-in surfing was all about. From that contest onwards there was a new benchmark.” Surviving a huge fall and neardrowning in his first heat, Bertish fought his way into the final where he was the only surfer to ride two waves without falling. These were waves so big that 40 spectators were injured when white water unexpectedly washed over the rocks where they were standing. He had won. It was the archetypal underdog achievement... except the scene didn’t quite go to plan. The
year. Currently ranked 10th after competing in the season’s first two events, Solomon is doing his utmost to build a career in the sport. But it’s been hard. After gate-crashing a red Bull Big Wave Africa practice session as an unknown 20-year-old, he was eventually invited to compete in 2008, the last year it was run. despite not catching a wave in the event, he did catch the attention of Grant Washburn, Big Wave Africa competitor and Mavericks stalwart. Washburn issued a casual invitation to stay in San Francisco and surf the mighty Mavericks. Off Solomon went. But again he never caught a wave – a lack of swell that year meant Mavericks never broke once in the three months he was there. The following year his luck flipped and 2009 was an El Niño year with a cyclic weather phenomenon, generating its usual consistent array of big waves. “The waves were massive every day and there was a huge crew of SA guys there including Chris, Andrew and Twig, plus James Taylor, Mike Schlebach, and Jacques Theron,” says Solomon. “It was very cool – we arrived as a crew and surfed together. The guys at Mavericks were like ‘Holy shit, who are these guys?’ Normally each country has one or two good big-wave surfers, but suddenly here were a whole bunch of them. There was a little animosity about us taking over their wave, but they took notice.” If anything, Solomon is tenacious. Working casual jobs and scraping together enough money to spend successive seasons surfing at Mavericks and Waimea, he also sent several emails to Big Wave World Tour director Gary Linden that eventually got him a shortnotice invitation to the Quiksilver
but then again to be competitive with other people in waves of that nature was always at odds for me. What I enjoy is the camaraderie – it’s a big part of the experience in Hawaii. Out there on big days you really get a sense that you’re looking out for one another. If anything, my underlying competitiveness would be in seeing someone taking off on a really big wave and being inspired to push myself to achieve that too.” Bertish did genuinely want it, though, and without Marr’s philosophical comforter, 58
effects of the global recession meant that the kind of sponsorship Bertish might have expected after this breakthough victory wasn’t forthcoming. “When you work so hard and you still can’t get enough backing to carry on, it’s pretty disheartening I guess,” he admits. Which brings us to Frank Solomon. Unlike the other three, who are all approaching 40, Solomon is only 28 – a young gun by big-wave surfing standards. He’s competing on The Big Wave World Tour, now into its third
Ceremonial in Chile. Arriving the night before his morning heat, Solomon had not only never seen the break before, but he had six of the top Big Wave Tour surfers in his opening heat. “I woke up the next morning to find half the contestants doing yoga or drinking strange tea and I was like, ‘What the hell am I doing here?’ Still, I started the heat well. I got a big wave right off the bat, then a nice barrel... and then this huge set approached. I was on the inside and knew I had to go for it. I got that one
pHOTOGrApHy: SETH MIGdAIL
“The waves near San Francisco were massive every day and there was a huge crew of SA guys over there”
“Once you’ve paddled for a wave and committed to it there’s no pulling back,” says Frank Solomon (pictured). “That wave is going and you’re going with it, so you’d better make sure you get to your feet”
and won the heat. I got on the cover of the main surfing mag back home and made the cover of the newspapers. It was such a sick feeling.” despite narrowly losing in the semis, Solomon had reached a critical plateau – he knew he could handle himself in this elevated company. “I’d never competed in a big-wave contest before,” he says. “you see other guys get waves, then you do, but you never think about how well you’re doing. I thought I could hang with the big boys, but I never knew for sure until then.” Another good showing at the following Billabong pico Alto Invitacional in peru saw him beat two Big Wave World Tour champs Carlos Burle (2009/2010) and Jamie Sterling (2010/2011) on the way to another semi. He is now, without doubt, a card-carrying member of the big-wave elite. But where to from here? While he’s getting help from a couple of sponsors and a career as a big-wave surfer looks within touching distance, in reality it’s along way from being a certainty. “Sure. But Twiggy and some of the overseas guys have managed it, and I know I can do it,” says Solomon. “With the excitement and the danger, bigwave surfing has the potential to have a broader audience than small-wave surfing. It looks like there are some big sponsors that want to get involved.” He could be right. The Big Wave World Tour currently feels a lot like the birth of professional surfing back in the mid-’70s. And similarly big-wave surfing will change, too. Competition sharpens fangs and the old camaraderie will erode a little. Twiggy Baker is already witnessing it. “yes, there are a few of us who do this together and we are a close crew,” he says. “We spend time together and look out for one another in and out of the water. But I’ve recently found the competitive side has become cut-throat. Certain individuals are not shy to paddle on your inside and steal waves. In the end, I guess competition is what it is and you can always go free-surfing instead.” Frank Solomon’s not opting for the free-surfing option and there’s every reason to be optimistic that he could be on the way up. It remains a hard road though, and not many people crack it. But unlike Marr and Bertish, he has time on his side. For the latter two, they’ll take solace in the legacy they’ve left behind. These guys have inspired the next wave who already speak the names of Chris Bertish and Andrew Marr with awe. www.bigwaveworldtour.com
Muddy hell: the brutal Baja 1000 demands the toughest men and machines
HERE BE MonstERs
It’s a RacE foR anytHIng stRong EnougH – Man, BIkE, oR MonstER tRuck – tHat can stay tHE couRsE. non-stop foR 1,000kM of MExIco’s Baja pEnInsula, tHE Baja 1000 Is woRld MotoRspoRt’s Most dEMandIng RacE words: alfredo Martínez fernández photography: jürgen skarwan
tavo vildósola in the zone at the start the 2011 event
hose who feel that motor racing has been strangled by rules and regulations should look to the Baja 1000. It is old-school, and brutal. It’s certainly the most demanding off-road race in the world. The Dakar Rally is perhaps the world’s most notable race of this type, especially since its move from Africa to South America, but it is run in stages. The Baja 1000 is non-stop from start to finish. Ever since the mid-1960s, hundreds of drivers from all over the world have raced their way around the Mexican peninsula of Baja California. Adrenalin, oil, shock-absorbers and bits of motorbike and truck have all been left behind on those dusty desert roads, where men and machine compete in a test of skill and aggression for a day and a night, and part of the next day, too. It’s a race that has taken on some of the characteristics of its location: it’s passionate and emotional, where other races might be more controlled. That’s not to say the Baja 1000 is reckless, for it is also a true test of driving skill. This year, the race celebrated its 44th edition with 275 drivers from Mexico, the USA and 16 other countries. This wild communion of cars, trucks, motorbikes and all-terrain vehicles (three- and four-wheeled motorbikes) followed a route that didn’t stray beyond the borders of Baja California; a little over 1,115km of rugged, searing terrain, with the start and finish lines on the Boulevard Costero, in front of Riviera del Pacifico in the port city of Ensenada, a place known as the Pearl of the Pacific, or the Cinderella, depending on its mood. 62
RallyIng tHE MassEs
Ensenada, Pacific Ocean, November 17. This is where it all begins; the day for contingency planning, registration and the vehicles’ technical inspection. Fans gather early on the Boulevard and as the day advances, the mood ratchets from slightly tense to extremely intense, amid the roar of the engines and endless, throbbing Mexican music. In among the hostesses, the petrolhead masses
“tHE pEoplE of Baja HavE off-Road In tHEIR vEIns. I was 17 yEaRs old tHE fIRst tIME I RacEd. I was My fatHER’s co-dRIvER. wE RollEd tHE caR ovER” are clamouring for an autograph from their idols. But the beating heart of this throng, and the main reason that crowds pack the length of the course, are the Trophy Trucks, the unlimited power tubular chassis pick-ups that rule the Baja roost. Fans are cautious and excited, juggling cameras and mobile phones to take photographs of shock-absorbers, tyres and tubular-chassis cabs. These mighty monster trucks are unique vehicles, evolved from of years of turnit-up-to-11 development. They’ll top 200kph, devouring everything in their path: rocks, sand, mud, even people. Yes, a few wayward fans have sometimes been known to get in their way. The two Red Bull Racing Trophy Trucks make their way down the Boulevard. Like a motorised Moses, they part the crowds whose desire to
get close enough to touch the trucks overcomes any fear (and safety regulations that would not be tolerated in other countries). The adulation is by no means reserved for the trucks: the drivers inside are heroes to these hordes. Guys like Bryce Menzies and Tavo Vildósola, whose fans will climb over one another to see. In the past they saw Steve McQueen and Paul Newman whizz by, just two of the many luminary former entrants. There are a handful of teams to watch out for at the 2011 race. Kory Scheeler, Nick Vanderwey and Rob MacCachren; brothers Tim, Troy and Ed Herbst; Scott McMillin, his son Andy and daughter Jessica, and the Red Bull motorbike team of Kendall Norman and Quinn Cody. There’s special attention, too, for Menzies and the Mexican team of Gustavo Vildósola senior and Gustavo ‘Tavo’ Vildósola junior, who are back to defend their 2010 Trophy Truck and overall winner titles. No ordinary competitors, these Vildósolases. In 2007, Tavo and his father took part in their Trophy Truck #4 and finished second, then the bestever result for a Mexican. But their crowning glory came in 2010, when they won, breaking speed and time records along the way and even beating the motorbikes, usually quicker to finish the course than their larger counterparts. Like many of the rally’s entrants, 29-year-old Tavo Vildósola is Baja born and bred. “The people of Baja have off-road in their veins,” explains Viry Félix, the first Mexican woman to take part in the Baja 1000. She’s from a family of racers, her father, Rafael, and her brother, Tavo, and now she’s taking up the challenge of crossing the desert herself in her pink SPT Buggy. “I was about 17 years old the first time I got into a racing car,” she says. “I was my father’s co-driver at a race in San Vicente [on Mexico’s Pacific coast, near Guadalajara]. I remember that we’d rolled the car over on a turn by the end of the first lap; I had to wait there, hanging by the seatbelt.”
MInnows and MaRtIal aRts
Félix’s story is similar to that of many Mexican and American racers who finance themselves to take part in this expensive sport against teams with thousands in sponsorship backing. “My first race as a driver was in 1994. A group of male friends organised a competition where their wives drove their cars,” she says. “My mother didn’t feel like taking part so I took
Road hog: not all the Baja 1000 is muddy. trucks also jostle for space on regular roads street parties and parades are held in the run-up to the race
joE RIcE Is 53 and Has BEEn RacIng HERE sIncE 1982: “wHat I lIkE Is tHE satIsfactIon of REacHIng tHE fInIsH lInE and tHEn EatIng soME tacos and HavIng a fEw BEERs” her place and from that point on, I knew that off-road was for me.” It’s fair to say that this has been a big year for Félix. Her team, Chicas Off-Road, found a sponsor in a very unexpected way. While working near the Mexico-US border as a driver on the set of the film, Little Boy, her brother Tavo met Japanese actor Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa and told him about his racing driver sister. Tagawa was so taken by the story that he decided to sponsor her. As well as providing cash, he also helped to train her mentally for the Baja 1000 with techniques from the martial art of Chu Shin. Almost all minnows like Felix competing against the biggest Baja fish
the Baja 1000 is fast. Even the monster trucks get good air
will tell you a different story of how they got to the start line, but they all share the same spirit and emotion. It doesn’t matter what you race in the Baja 1000, so long as it’s strong enough to last the course. The rally was born, and thrives on, this let’s-just-do-it attitude.
In every vehicle there must be someone handy with tools
It was first run in 1962 when two adventurers, Dave Ekins and Bill Robertson Jr, raced from Tijuana to La Paz on a pair of Honda motorbikes, primarily just to see how long it would take and whether it would be possible to compete as they did so. They had papers stamped in telegraph offices to keep track of their times and positions. Ekins won in a time of 39 hours and 54 minutes and similar contests were held over the next five years. Ralph Poole and Spencer Murray were important pioneers in the automobile category and in 1967 set a record of 31 hours exactly in a Rambler American. A veneer of professionalism came to this rugged road race in the unlikely form of a San Fernando Valley florist by the name of Ed Pearlman. Backed by his administrative skills, the ‘Mexican 1000’ was born on October 31, 1967, with 68 registered participants. This race would not be adjudicated in telegraph offices, but by an organisation headed by Pearlman called the National Off-Road Racing Association (NORRA). But NORRA couldn’t keep up with the
RacE tRacE YUMA
SAN LUIS RIO COLORADO
It may have a simple ‘drive till you’re done’ ethos, but the Baja 1000 is no walk in the park. It unfolds on the toughest terrain of the spectacular Baja Peninsula.
A C IF IC O C
E A N
PARQUE NATURAL SIERRA DE SAN PEDRO MATIR
M E X I C O 20 M I L E S 50 K M
RacE As its name suggests, the Baja 1000 is a 1,000km race, which this year was precisely 1,115km. Entrants are flat-out from start to finish. spEEd The most powerful vehicles, the Trophy Trucks, can top 200kph, despite weighing almost two tonnes. caRs Trucks, buggies, or (only for the brave) bikes are all eligible for the Baja 1000. It’s a deliberately open technical category. Think: ‘Run what you brung’ (and make sure it’s tough enough to last the distance).
away from the cities, where it’s too remote for crowds, there’s just trail, cars and rocks
pace and in 1974, responsibility for organising the race, now rechristened the Baja 1000, was transferred to SCORE International, the organisation which is still in charge today.
Race day, at dawn, 6am. The motorbikes and all-terrain vehicles wait restlessly in the starting line-up. Half an hour later, the first motorcyclists are set free. Kendall Norman, from Santa Barbara, California, leaves second on a Honda CRF450X. He has high hopes and is a clear favourite to come out on top. In 2009, he won both the Baja 1000 and its little brother, the Baja 500. Last to set off is Joe Rice, 53, on a Can-Am Outlander 800 all-terrain vehicle. Rice has been racing the Baja since 1982. “Last year it took me 32 hours to get as far as La Paz,” he says. “What I like most is the satisfaction of reaching the finish line and then eating some tacos and having a few beers.” Achieving that goal is getting harder each year, for although vehicle quality 65
the Baja 1000 is notorious for the closeness of the fans to the action
improves, the organisers, Rice reckons plot the toughest route along the worst roads. “I remember one time coming across Perry McNeil, who’s 62 now and still racing – a total legend. He was in Ciudad Constitución and couldn’t move for cramps. We had to give him bananas to help him recover.” At 11am, a rumble of thunder signals 32 Trophy Trucks setting off, led by TV star Jesse James, then Tavo Vildósola, who flies out of the blocks at 11.14. The first section of the course follows a small stream. Recent rainfall has made it a quagmire; not great for the drivers, but exactly the sort of thing the fans huddled on the bridges and on the bed of the stream have come out to see. They get covered in waves of mud and the vehicles pass by so close they can practically touch them. Did someone say this is dangerous? Of course it is. It’s the Running of the Bulls, motorised.
Fifty-six kilometres east of the start, at Ojos Negros, Tavo Vildósola catches and overtakes Jesse James. He had scheduled 66
a refuelling stop, but on taking the lead, he changes strategy and decides to stop at the 145km mark to put some distance between himself and James. Smart move: James doesn’t see him for dust. A few kilometres along, the route switches course, to head south to El Álamo, then climbs east over rocks and rubble to what is appropriately called The Summit. From there, it’s south to Cohabuzo and across the infamous Laguna Salada. This last stretch is a killer as Vildósola finds to his cost. At 156km, just as he reaches The Summit, the piston on his hydraulic steering rack fails. His support crew
“tHIs Is tHE Most IntEnsE RacE of My lIfE. at onE poInt wE wERE only 30 sEconds aHEad. tHE wHolE tHIng Is spInE-tInglIng and gREat fun”
are swift to arrive and set him back on course, but he’s lost two hours. At 177km, an alternator breaks down, leaving just one to provide the electrics. Overloaded, this second unit shuts down at 193km. Vildósola presses on, unwilling to admit defeat. The game is well and truly up when he reaches Cerro Borrego, at 315km, where he has to quit. The car hasn’t yet been invented that’ll run without electricity, and the reigning champ has to wave goodbye to any hope of consecutive Baja 1000 victories. Up at the front, it’s a scrapping, three-way fight for the lead between Bryce Menzies, Andy McMillin and Nick Vanderwey. They’re at the San Felipe loop, which begins at El Borrego and allows the racers to reconnect with the Mar de Cortés [Gulf of California] coast and cross the spectacular Matomi wash and Laguna Diablo, where they get a perfect view of Picacho del Diablo, the highest point on the peninsula of Baja California. The view’s just wallpaper to the leaders, though. After San Felipe, more mountains beckon, before a descent to San Vicente and Rancho Eréndira, on the Pacific
coast. Drivers whizz past the settlement of Santo Tomás and then leave the coast for a return into the desert, back towards Ojos Negros and Ensenada. The motorcyclists complete the Baja 1000 before the others. The winner of the 44th race is Red Bull’s Kendall Norman on a Honda, followed home by Shane Esposito on a Kawasaki and Colton Udall, another Honda rider.
tHE closEst Run
November 19, morning. Photographers, journalists and organisers squabble at the finish line in a state of heightened suspense. The three front-running Trophy Trucks approach flat out; they’re fighting for the victory and there’s only a matter of a few minutes between them. Soon they can hear the roar of the first engine: the Ford F-150 belonging to Andy and Scott McMillin; three minutes behind is the Chevrolet Silverado of Nick Vanderwey and Curt LeDuc; another two minutes back, the Red Bull duo of Bryce Menzies and Rick Johnson in their Ford F-150. This is the closest ever finish to a Baja 1000. Andy McMillin can hardly believe he’s won. “This is the most intense race of my
fans aRE covEREd In wavEs of Mud, standIng so closE tHEy can alMost toucH tHE vEHIclEs as tHEy RacE By. soMEonE say tHIs Is dangERous? of couRsE It Is. It’s tHE RunnIng of tHE Bulls, MotoRIsEd life,” he gushes. “In the coastal section, we were only 30 seconds ahead of Menzies. It was spine-tingling and great fun.” His father, Scott, glows with pride. “The Baja 1000 is an important tradition for the McMillin family. This is the 35th time we’ve taken part.” After the race, Bryce Menzies wants to explain a few things. “When we came into pit at Borrego, we were six seconds ahead of Andy, but when we stopped for fuel and to change our tyres, the hydraulic jack just broke down and we lost a few invaluable seconds. It
sal fish, race organiser since 1974
was a really impressive race. The San Felipe loop was just wild.” And what of Viry Félix? She won the Sports Buggy category, the first woman to do so, in 25 hours, 42 minutes and 41 seconds – without the support of a co-driver. A star was born. www.score-baja-1000.com
Bryce Menzies came third, in the closest-ever trophy trucks finish to the Baja 1000
At home in Switzerland within sight of Mont Blanc, Sébastian Loeb reflects on nearly a decade of seamless success in the World Rally Championship. Since 2004 he has painted the record books gold, winning an unprecedented eight straight world titles
‘Greatest Of All Time’ was how Muhammad Ali came to be described, and it’s an accolade that could equally well apply to Sébastian Loeb. With eight consecutive world titles (2004-11) and 67 rally wins, his stats simply crush those of his peers and past ‘best ever’ contenders. He is – no hyperbole – a living legend and The Red Bulletin visited him at home to talk wheels, winning and world domination
Words: Christophe Couvrat Photography: Philipp Horak
cratch watches over his protégé. He never leaves his side. Sébastien Loeb’s mascot is displayed proudly on the rear of his helicopter and adorns most of the Frenchman’s helmets. It gives clues about the personality of this remarkable eight-time World Rally Champion. Scratch, an Alsatian, is a good host, too. He takes us for a walk near his home, a couple of hundred metres up into the Swiss foothills of the Jura mountains. “You see over there? That’s Mont Blanc,” says the man usually reckoned to be the sports darling of France, alongside Sébastien Chabal and Yannick Noah. Today, there are clouds either side of Lake Geneva, but they can’t prevent the 4,807m of Europe’s highest peak from soaring over the horizon. Loeb is affable and all smiles when we meet in the heart of Switzerland’s Vaud canton, just a couple of weeks after his latest world rally title conquest. No doubt he’s relishing this downtime at the hillside home he shares with his wife, Séverine, and daughter Valentine, during the brief off-season lull in the sport he continues to dominate so consummately. He suggests a coffee. Then another. And soon he’s away, talking informally and with no holds barred.
The Red BulleTin : Sébastien, can you remember all 67 of your WRC wins? SéBaSTien loeB: [Surprised] No. That’s terrible! OK, well where have you had the most wins then? [Without hesitation] Germany. [He’s won there eight times.] The Monte Carlo Rally, which has been off the WRC calendar since 2008, gets the 2012 season under way in a few days’ time [January 17-22]. Almost like being at home…? It’s really a rally for my co-driver, Daniel [Elena]. That’s where he’s from. It’s a shame the Monte was dropped for a couple of years. There was a desire from the sport’s organisers for a new schedule, which would keep some races but not others. They must have forgotten you need to keep a solid base, because the ‘Monte Carlo’ was removed at the same time as the Tour de Corse. But it’s good that it’s coming back. It’s run in France, so it’s special for us. How many times have you won it? I don’t remember… Five, actually. It also has the famous Col de Turini stage.
Séb Loeb in family mode: a rare glimpse of one of the world's great sportsmen, getting some downtime at the Jura mountain home he shares with his wife and daughter
" my first job was in a factory, making plastic supports for baths and sinks"
aDDITIoNal phoToGRaphy: GEpa pICTuRES
2011 Daniel used to be a spectator on the Monte Carlo course when he was younger. I didn’t even know what it was back then. Did you ever go to rallies when you were a kid? I once went to the Vosges Rally, I think. My father took me there. Maybe when I was about 10. after that, I didn’t go to another one until I was competing. Which drivers impressed you back in those days? The problem is, I didn’t even know what rallying was back then! So I was never a fan of anyone’s. It wasn’t till I was almost 18 that I started watching rallies on TV with my mates. We used to say: ‘It’s amazing what those guys can do with their cars.’ But no more than that. What was your first job? I was a pE teacher, like my dad. he was a gym trainer at a club and then a Departmental Technical advisor before going to work in a school. I could see myself following in his footsteps. I wasn’t really into studying. and I knew that I might like it. And what was your dream job? To be a fighter pilot! But I screwed up. I was told: ‘you have to do further maths
and special maths’. But some people managed to get there without doing all that. I got on board a Rafale [jet fighter] one day and I spoke to the pilot about it. he told me how he’d got to where he was, and it was nothing like what I’d been told. Sure, his studies were slightly technical, but nothing out of the ordinary. and of course, you’d be doing something that interests you. So what was your precocious first contact with cars? It started with my neighbour. he used to push me around the back garden in my car. I didn’t touch the pedals. I used to go backwards and forwards… My father used to take out me out driving in the fields. Sometimes I used to nick the car and take it for a spin. I had to be the fastest in moped races too. What type of school kid were you? I didn’t get my baccalaureate as I left school early. I got 20/20 in maths in the National Diploma without ever working. That was fine by me, getting good marks without doing anything. later on I had to work a bit. I wanted a sports car and my parents insisted I work during the holidays. My first job was in a factory,
This is the Citroën DS3 in which Loeb last year won his eighth consecutive World Rally title. It was a tough season, but eight wins sealed the deal ahead of Mikko Hirvonen and Seb Ogier
making polyurethane supports for washbasins and baths. Eventually, I’d earned a bit of cash and I said to myself: ‘If I carry on working, I’m going to buy myself the car.’ I carried on and never went back to school. But pretty soon I’d had enough of that kind of job, so I did a year of electrical engineering vocational studies. I finished that, then went from one job to the next until I started rallydriving. For the first two years, I was still doing both. So, tell us, what was that hankeredafter first car? a Renault Super 5 GT Turbo. Maybe you were destined to be a fast driver. Your parents are a maths and a PE teacher, which would explain why you have such quick analytical and reactive skills... That’s a good point – and I’ve never actually considered that. My dad, yes, he was the French university gymnastics 71
peugeot 106 Pocket rocket: this is Loeb cutting his teeth in a Peugeot 106 Rallye. Aged 23, he was already two seasons into his rally career and showing talent
toyota corolla All Loeb’s notable successes have been in French machinery, but his first taste of a true WRC car was at the wheel of a Toyota Corolla WRC, in 2000 Wife Séverine and daughter Valentine give hubby/dad some ‘Apple’ time. Wonder if Séb’s checking his WRC stats to make sure he’s still top of the pile?
pescarolo-judd Séb was one of a three-man team that finished a notable second at the Le Mans 24-Hour race, his rare talent proving adaptable to circuit racing
" you have to be in control of your body, to have balance. to drive fast your car and body must be as one. it must be natural, like walking" No shortage of silverware in the trophy room of a driver who could easily be reckoned the best ever
French World Champions pre-Loeb: Didier Auriol in 1994
Citroën models he’s driven to eight titles: Xsara WRC (2004-'06 titles, 28 wins); C4 WRC ('07-'10 titles, 34 wins); DS3 WRC ('11 title, 8 wins)
WRC titles won by Loeb’s closest rivals, Finns Juha Kankkunen and Tommi Mäkinen
The most times he’s won the same event (WRC Rally Germany)
Rallies Loeb has won at least once
aDDITIoNal phoToGRaphy: DppI, MCKlEIN, GETTy IMaGES
WRC wins [ongoing record]
champion. I used to spend time in gyms from an early age, and I would accompany him when he was a trainer, too. It’s so important to be in control of your body, to have balance. and in order to drive fast, your car and body have to become one. It’s all got to be natural. like when you’re walking. I don’t think about driving. Ever. you’ve got to be relaxed in the car. Sorry? You don’t think? It’s true. I don’t think. It all comes naturally. I don’t have the time for it to be otherwise. For example, once, on a special stage, I wanted to adjust my brake balance to add a bit to the rear. I know very well that you turn the knob to the right to shift the brakes to the rear. But with all the notes, concentrating on the driving, listening to your co-driver, remembering the route, adjusting your entry speed, adjusting your speed according to grip and the line you’re going to take, there are lots of calculations to make in a hurry. It’s got to come naturally. I haven’t got time to think of anything else. I guess that’s where your ‘symbiosis’ with [co-driver] Daniel Elena comes in? Well it works like this: basically he tells me what I’ve dictated to him after our recces of the stages at every rally on the Tuesday and Wednesday. on the first run, I dictate to him; on the second, he repeats back to me what I dictated to him. Then I tweak it a bit in the evening when I watch video footage. And do you ever disagree? If he says, ‘Careful’, to me, it’s because I’ve told him to say, ‘Careful’. he writes down what I said to him word for word. he is my memory. The role he plays isn’t the same role a co-driver at the Dakar plays, for example. There’s more navigation there. And speaking of the Dakar… It’s not a priority for me. I’m more about the rally circuit than I am about Dakar. I’d like it for the adventure and the landscapes, but the rallying I do is more like circuit racing than Dakar as you’re constantly taking things to the limit. If I did it, it’d be with a mate, for fun, but then I can’t do that because there’d be expectations. I’d have to go there as a professional and bring back the result. I’ll think about it later. OK, so no Dakar for now, but you might have gone over to Formula One if you’d been granted the necessary ‘superlicence’ by the governing body… opportunities like that don’t come knocking every day. I did some good
lap times during a practice session with Red Bull, and their idea was to have me race several Grands prix. But it wasn’t possible. I didn’t have a specific ambition going into it. I would have been driving for Toro Rosso and that wasn’t a car that could have won, so I wasn’t prepared to do it. I would have got in the car at abu Dhabi in 2009 and driven the race without any advance practice sessions. But the Le Mans 24 Hours proved to be a very successful attempt at circuit racing for you. You were part of the team that finished second in 2006 and you almost went on to drive the race for Peugeot. Why didn’t it happen? I ended up with an overloaded schedule: I had the tests of the Citroën C4 and DS3 rally cars, not to mention competing in the C4. We were testing both cars because we were going to change at the end of the year. My daughter was two-and-a-half years old and I must have been at home three days over a two-month period! I also wanted to do proper testing in the peugeot. I’m sure there’ll be other opportunities to race at le Mans in the future, but if I do it I don’t want it to be a limitation on other things. After eight world titles, where do you still find the motivation to compete? I enjoy everything I do. I love driving, I love rallying, I love scrapping, although driving for driving’s sake is of no interest. There’s no particular thing that motivates me. I can’t explain it, but my motivation comes naturally and I don’t like losing. So if I think there’s a way of being out in front, I go for it. I have nothing to prove. If I hadn’t wanted to take risks, I’d have stopped. It’s better for me to do it when I’m at the top of my game than when I’m getting beaten. I wouldn’t like that. I was still up there in 2011, although I’d almost left to go and do circuit racing at the beginning of the year. Sébastien Ogier, your teammate in 2011, won’t be a title rival next year as he’s working with Volkswagen to develop their new WRC car for 2013. Will that make 2012 easier? I expect Mikko hirvonen will be my main rival [Finn hirvonen joins Citroën for 2012 and 2013]. and there won’t be a strategy like last year. If he beats me, he beats me. If he’s ahead of me, no one’s going to say to him, ‘hey, wait for loeb’. That’s not how things work. unless I’m leading and he’s in sixth place at the end of the season. Then it’d be oK. We saw what happened at Ford in 2011 – JariMatti latvala was faster the whole time, hirvonen had more points, so latvala was held back every time. If hirvonen wins in 73
A rare treat for The Red Bulletin's journalist and photographer: riding shotgun with Séb in his private helicopter between Geneva Airport and his Swiss home
Monte Carlo this year, then comes home first in Sweden and Mexico, no one’s going to tell him to wait for me. There are no number-one and number-two drivers. at least not at the start of the season. I think things will happen on a more logical basis this year, as they will at Ford. It’s ogier’s own choice not to be taking part this year. he decided to go to Volkswagen. and that’s that. Smart move? I didn’t keep track of his negotiations. We all thought he was going to sign for Ford. I think Ford didn’t have the money to pay him much in 2012. I thought about Volkswagen myself in the middle of the season, but in the end I stayed at Citroën as that’s where I have developed and have been successful. They showed me how important I was to them. I’m not at the same stage of my career as ogier is. he’s got all the time in the world [he’s 28], whereas I’m at the stage of wondering whether I should do another one or two years. Three would be too much. Eight world championship titles in three different cars, but all Citroëns: the Xsara, the C4 and the DS3. Which one did you like most? all of them! They were all four-wheel drive… The first two had 2-litre turbo engines… The third, the DS, has a 1600cc turbo engine and it’s almost as powerful as the Xsara now. But that’s not what matters. I like the DS a lot as it’s the most nippy and playful of the three. you can hurl it from one side to the other. It responds really well. The three of them 74
Loeb-Heintz, the other duo Sébastien Loeb knows how to work as part of a team. There’s his official partnership with Séverine since their marriage in 2005. Then there’s the partnership with Daniel Elena, from whom he is often described as being inseparable. And not to be overlooked is the partnership with first-timer Dominique Heintz, which was formed at the beginning of Loeb’s motorsport career and is now looking to the future. He explains: “I’d signed up for youth rallies. First there are regional, then national selections. The registration fee was 15 French francs. I was an electrician at the time. There were 15,000 participants nationwide. Dominique noticed me and entrusted me with a car from his team. That first year, I won, but the jury gave the win to another driver. I went home. The following year I made a mistake in the final leg but won in the end.” Now the two of them want to help another young driver live his dream. Loeb continues: “That was the idea when I introduced Ogier to Guy Fréquelin [former Citroën WRC boss]. At that point, Dominique and I wanted to help him. I went to watch my brotherin-law who was taking part in the
Limousin Rally and saw Ogier go past. I said to myself, ‘Wow, he’s quick!’ We thought, why not meet and see if we can do something for him? I spoke about it to Fréquelin who subsequently met him. Dominique and I didn’t even get involved, so good luck to Ogier. Since then, we’ve continued in conjunction with PH Sport who rally private Citroën cars. The two of us set up a separate company.” It works like this: Heintz does the concrete stuff; Loeb approves it. “It’s a lot of work,” he says. “We speak on the phone every day. We have to find partners, that sort of thing. If we can help one or two youngsters get on, we’d be happy.” This is Loeb thinking like a team boss, with an eye on the future. “It would mean I could keep my hand in with motorsport,” he says. “If I stop driving tomorrow, I’ll be all on my own. What would I do? I’ve earned enough money. I don’t need to work.”
Loeb on co-driver Daniel Elena: “He is my memory’’
Loeb on Séverine: “She’s a really good co-driver”
Loeb on Dominique Heintz: “He's the guy who noticed me”
citroën c4 wrc
aDDITIoNal phoToGRaphy: GETTy IMaGES (2), DppI, GEpa pICTuRES
Flying high in the car that has brought Loeb the most success: four driver titles, from 2007-10 and 34 rally wins. There was talk of retirement this year before Seb re-committed to Citroën for 2012
are all great on tarmac. The C4 is more sluggish and has slower reaction times on dirt roads. The DS has better reactions. The Xsara is somewhere between the two. Who’s been your toughest rival since your first World Championship win back in 2004? In some rallies, Marcus Grönholm [World Champion in 2000 and 2002] was the fastest, but he made more mistakes. he would often make one mistake at a crucial moment. at the end, he wasn’t the most difficult to beat. But speaking only of pure speed, he was the most surprising. It’s harder to dominate hirvonen because he’s so consistent. ogier has shown how quick he is on all surfaces. latvala had a pretty bad start to the season, but he’s quicker than ogier on tarmac. They’re as quick as each other on dirt roads – latvala is the real deal. Last summer you committed to Citroën for another year with the option of another year after that. Will you still be here in 2013? I don’t want to have to force myself to drive. It doesn’t matter to me if I have seven, eight or nine titles. I want to give myself an exit route. If I sense mid-season that I don’t feel like going on, I want to be
" i don't want to be forcing myself to drive. i want to give myself an exit route, if i want to do some circuit racing before i'm too old"
able to stop. I don’t want to have a year where I’m going to have to force myself to drive, that wouldn’t interest me. If I want to start out in circuit racing or elsewhere, I don’t want to leave it too late. What are you most proud of? I am most proud of the eight titles and my career as a whole. Ten years ago, I was only just beginning to dream that maybe one day I’d be World Champion, and now I’ve been crowned World Champion a total of eight times. I was nobody before the San Remo in 2001 [where he finished second]. all the big teams called me after that rally. That’s when everything changed. That was the rally that triggered everything. But it easily could have ended up with me becoming an electrician a year later! As a rule, if you want something, do you get it? as a rule, yes, but it’s not foolproof. The helicopter pilot licence was no trouble. If I’m interested in something, I find the motivation I need to get it. like my boat, motorbike or hGV licences, for example. I drove a tank in the army. I told myself I might as well do something useful, which is why I’ve got the hGV licence. I was 2km from home. That was easier. www.sebastienloeb.com
the icemen cometh
What if skaters built for ice hockey raced against each other on a track? What if that track was downhill and featured hairpin turns, big air, and of thousands of screaming fans? Welcome to the dynamic and exhilarating world of Red Bull Crashed Ice Words: Werner Jessner Photography: J端rgen Skarwan
From top: The fastest men in the Red Bull Crashed Ice World Championship are last year’s champion Arttu Pihlainen from Finland and Canadian brothers Kyle (second) and Scott Croxall (third). Below: the right type of ground skate blade can make a big difference in a race
he closer the final heats get, the quieter the atmosphere in the starting tent becomes. The skaters, up until now banded together in national cliques, exchanging advice and firing each other up, become quiet, focused. White headphones are standard. Warm-up exercise bikes are busy. Bananas, cans of Red Bull and carbohydrate supplements are all to the fore. In the background, the skate-sharpening machine is working away, a racer presumably having had a last-minute change of heart that will secure him victory. The starter calls out the names for the next round and hands out bibs – red, yellow, blue, grey. The four sportsmen, in full hockey gear with helmets, totter in the protectors on their skate blades to the start, where they remove them and fling them into waiting boxes. They scrape a grip into the ice with their blades, their hands on the starting gate. They no longer look right or left. Their eyes stare straight ahead, down a track almost four football fields in length, filled with tricky turns, exhausting bumps and jumps. They concentrate on the initial surge and the first curve. They do not look to the thousands of fans trackside. They do not lend an ear to the DJ spinning tunes above the cheers. “Riders ready?” the starter asks. “Watch the gate…” As soon as the starting gate opens, the world becomes a long white blur of adrenalin and endorphins, an exquisite rush…
An exact science
A sport that’s been in existence for a little over a decade, Red Bull Crashed Ice first took place on a track constructed around Stockholm’s fish market in 2001. But in recent years Ice Cross Downhill has taken on more polish. Out of a few unconnected races, the Red Bull Crashed Ice World Championship series was born in 2010. Last year’s tour stopped in Germany, the Netherlands, Russia and Canada. This year the championship comes to the USA for the first time at St Paul, Minnesota, on January 13-14, the first race in the 2012 four-stop championship series. This sport comes into its own with the skates. In the early years it was enough to give your hockey skates a quick sharpen before you started Ice Cross Downhill, but those looking to avoid belly flopping have reviewed and refined their approach. Ice hockey skates come with a swashplate installed, so the steel is higher in the middle than on the edges. This comes in handy when you need to be able to turn while stationary because the puck has changed direction, but it’s more counterproductive than anything else when you’re going downhill at speeds of up to 70kph. So many competitors grind the swashplate away, right to the edges in some cases. Others use T-blades or the skates used for playing bandy (like ice hockey, but with more players, a ball instead of a puck, a slightly bigger goal and a much bigger pitch), which are flatter and have longer blades than ice-hockey skates. Inside the racer’s tent, there are specialists working away at skate-sharpening machines, preparing the skates of every athlete to exact specifications. And if a racer doesn’t feel good about the skates, they can be adjusted after every training run – after all, with these things, it’s always the tools that are to blame. For the 2012 season, most will have their own special Ice Cross Downhill skates made of highstrength steel which warp less, offer greater stability and maintain their grinding for much longer.
Finland versus canada
Last year, the battle for the overall Red Bull Crashed Ice title came down to a clash of the same schools that dominate the world of ice hockey: Scandinavia and Canada. Though Ice Cross Downhill is its own sport, it still can’t deny its roots in ice hockey. In
ADDITIONAL PhOTOGRAPhy: JOeRG MITTeR (3)
Finn Arttu Pihlainen (right), is the favourite again in 2012 after capturing the overall crown last year
Good reAction times, quick Feet And heFty thiGhs Are bAsic requirements 79
shirt-pullinG is Forbidden, As is pushinG, shovinG And checkinG
brit with the bit
The UK’s Red Bull Crashed Ice hopes are pinned on a pro ice skating instructor from Hull. Meet 34-year-old Adrian Jack “When I first saw Red Bull Crashed Ice on TV, I thought it looked absolutely mental, brutal, but I knew I really wanted to do it. I’m a skater through and through: a skating instructor in hull for nine years, a pro since 1996 and I started when I was nine years old. I can also ski, snowboard and rollerblade. Three days before Christmas 2010, I was on a ferry bound for a Red Bull Crashed Ice qualifier in the Netherlands. “Nothing can prepare you for Red Bull Crashed Ice. There are 25,000 people screaming, banging the hoardings lining the course, and you’re shoulder to shoulder with three other guys. The closest thing I’ve experienced to being at the top of the track is a bungee jump. Stood there, toes over the edge, heart racing, hanging on with both hands, looking down a sheer drop. Then it’s like someone’s given you a massive kick up the backside and you’re racing at up to 70kph. It’s an amazing adrenalin 80
rush. I made it to the second tour stop in Valkenburg, also in holland, and finished 33rd out of 64. Not bad for a first-timer. This year, I’m in the new Great Britain team. I think coming from the UK is only a disadvantage if you let it be. Last summer, I trained on rollerblades in skate parks to get used to going downhill and over jumps. I also had meetings with elite performance coach Faye Downey and Red Bull’s strength and conditioning coach, Darren Roberts. Faye devised a training programme: now I’m on ice six days a week, with running, cycling and gym work. Darren gave me a nutrition plan and a rule to live by: ‘Anything served through a window is not food!’ “There’s no reason us Brits can’t be a force to be reckoned with. Competing before has given me a heads-up, and this year I’m on the attack. The Canadians and the Finns are always super-fast in this sport, but this year, hopefully, they’ll be looking at the back of my helmet.”
Last year’s Red Bull Crashed Ice in Moscow saw thousands of fans line the track. In Québec City, Canada, it was tens of thousands
ADDITIONAL PhOTOGRAPhy: STePheN JB KeLLy/ReD BULL CONTeNT POOL
Åre (Sweden) February 17-18, 2012
one corner, current champion Arttu Pihlainen, a gymnastics teacher from Finland; in the other, the Croxall brothers, Kyle (who came second) and Scott (third), two typically outdoor types from Canada. Pihlainen is married and has two children, aged three and one; the eldest, it goes without saying, already goes out on the ice. Pihlainen is one of those people who are good at all sports. he’s an all-rounder in the art of movement who trains in the summer months on mountain bike rides with a friend who used to be on the Finnish national downhill team. Kyle Croxall, on the other hand, is a fireman, while his brother works as a water-skiing instructor in the summer and makes enough money from it to enjoy himself for the rest of the year. For the Croxall brothers, the winter is all about ice hockey, or, better still, Ice Cross Downhill. The sport’s leading players are as fundamentally different in style as they are in their everyday lives. Pihlainen’s Finnish friends jokingly say his hobby is “training hamsters” whereas the Croxalls love to bum around the Canadian wilderness in their pick-up trucks. Pihlainen is a sportsman who, thanks to his quick legwork, sprints to the fore at the start of almost every race, stays out of trouble on the track and controls the race from the front. The first body contact he makes is high-fiving at the finish line. The Croxall brothers, in contrast, adopt a typically Canadian approach: if there’s space there, I’m coming through it. “I’d like it more if any kind of physical contact was allowed,” said Scott Croxall, before being disqualified for shirtpulling in the quarter-finals of Race Three in last year’s Red Bull Crashed Ice World Championships. That disqualification cost him valuable points and a chance of winning the overall title. Shirt-pulling is forbidden in Ice Cross Downhill, as is pushing, shoving and checking. everything that you mustn’t do in the school lunch queue also applies to one of the toughest and quickest winter sports. There’s enough action as it is.
Finding the line
No one concedes any ground, especially at the start. A good start as you go head-to-head against three others doesn’t guarantee victory, but it gets you a decent part of the way there. The first man into the opening turn steers clear of all the turmoil behind him. Good reaction times, quick feet and hefty thighs are basic requirements if you don’t want to see a sizeable gap open up between you and the leader. The athletes’ preparation has become even more important for the 2012 season, as this year there are longer tracks up from about 350m last year to 500m, bringing with them the potential for higher speeds. In addition to Pihlainen and the Croxall brothers, this season should see Germany’s talented Fabian Mels and Russian rocket Andrey Lavrov
Québec City (Canada) March 16-17, 2012
4 1 St Paul (USA) January 13-14, 2012
Valkenburg (Netherlands) February 3-4, 2012
FAst FActs Where? The 2012 Red Bull Crashed Ice World Championships makes four stops around the world (see above)
Who? In 2011, about 14,000 athletes from 23 nations competed in qualifiers for one of the 128 coveted final berths across the four tour stops.
hoW? It can take 180 people two weeks to build a track, typically in a city centre. There are 15 people alone tasked with the job of spraying water onto the track around the clock in the 11 days leading up to a race
FAst? Oh yes. It takes racers on average around half a minute to make it down up-to-500m courses, at speeds reaching 70kph
competing for overall victory – not to mention the prize of a brand-spanking new Mini. In each heat, a minute’s racing separates the good skaters from the excellent ones. every jump is different. Banked curves make several lines of racing possible and allow for overtaking manoeuvres. Doubles pluck half-hearted competitors off the ice, while men with bigger hearts, or other body parts, forge ahead. Sometimes the chicken line is the wiser option if the main line means carnage ahead. Red Bull Crashed Ice is more than just speed and skill, more than balls and guts: brains are crucial.
Perhaps the greatest challenge from a technical point of view is the texture of the ice itself. Frozen water isn’t just frozen water. Last season, the ice surfaces in Munich and Moscow were as different as they come. Munich’s track, a 350m course constructed in the city’s Olympic Park, had ice that was watery and deep and exhausting to skate on. Moscow’s was more brittle, but no less treacherous. Low, dry temperatures of -30°C meant the water on the surface of the Moscow course froze in an instant, rather than freezing solid from below as it would at more agreeable temperatures. A sharp skate coming into contact with the new ice was like a cheese knife cutting through Parmesan, tiny chunks breaking off. The way the athletes adjust to the different tracks and conditions is very similar to the way that rally drivers take things to the limit on snow, gravel and tarmac. Although, admittedly, the atmosphere at the start is more relaxed during a Red Bull Crashed Ice event. During qualifying especially, the mood in the starting tent – where the athletes get changed, prepare and await their turn in the warmth – is tense yet cordial. But the numbers shrink as the competition claims its victims. Out of more than 100 racers that were in the starting tent, only a few remain. The vibe hushes as they make their way to the starting gate. www.redbullcrashedice.com
Body+ Mind More
Contents 84 TRAVEL IDEAS Up Helly Aa fire festival 86 GLOBAL FOOD One chef’s inspiration and a recipe to follow 88 Get THE GEAR Stefan Glowacz’s climbing essentials 90 TRAINING Tips from the pros 92 BEST CLUBS Symbol, Budapest 92 MUST LISTEN Gonjasufi’s new mini album 93 TAKE 5 RZA talks influences 94 WORLD IN ACTION 96 SAVE THE DATE 98 MIND’S EYE
Photography: Klaus Fengler
Extreme equipment: Stefan Glowacz (above) is scaling the mountains of Patagonia this month. See what heâ€™s taking with him on page 88
more body & mind
Fire starters: At the high point of the festival, the Vikings form a circle round the ship and set it on fire with their torches
Island lIfe this month’s travel tips
Fire in the Helly
Up Helly AA At the end of this month thousands of fauxVikings will carry a longboat by torchlight to a fiery end in Lerwick. The Scots send their wild history up in flames at Up Helly Aa, Europe’s most spectacular fire festival
The old song The Norseman’s Home is sung as the galley is burnt
All is dark and a flare scorches the night sky with a raucous bang. It’s a signal the assembled masses react to with a menacing roar. Thousands of men with beards wearing iron helmets, chainmail and carrying shields, excitedly light their torches and bathe Lerwick in a fiery light. This isn’t northern Europe circa 950AD. It’s 21st-century Scotland, at one of its northernmost outposts, with the streetlights turned off and just moments away from the highlight of Europe’s largest fire festival. To rapturous applause from locals and tourists alike, the wannabe-couldabeen-Vikings drag a 10m-long ship through the streets. After a half-hour procession, they reach the spot where the galley will be sacrificed. The men set her alight with their torches. The flames rage as the crowd erupts in approval. There’s music and the night’s festivities begin. On a night like this, men in tights and helmets storm the taverns and dancehalls and stay there till the sun sends them home.
more body & mind
From start to FinisH
Firefest facts aa-Ha! Why do Shetlanders torch a newly built ship every year? Even the Vikings couldn’t answer that question, because they weren’t the ones who brought the Up Helly Aa tradition to life; the festival of fire only came about in the late 19th century. Back then it was an attempt by Lerwick’s older generation to try to rein in the high spirits of island youth. Soldiers and sailors home on leave after Christmas would rip up the town at night – drinking, brawling, even gunfighting. Their energies had to be channelled somewhere and a more constructive solution became this ritual burning of a dragon boat in remembrance of Nordic ancestors on the last Tuesday in January.
sHe’s a Guizer The holiday Vikings are well organised – just like the real thing. The Guizer Jarl, newly elected every year, is head man, in charge of organising the festival. At his side, a retinue of 50: the Jarl Squad. They pull the longboat to where it will be burnt. Another 45 groups of Vikings march alongside. Women used to be excluded from the tradition, but even Vikings have grudgingly arrived in the 21st century and in 2015 the first female Guizer Jarl, Lesley Simpson from Maywick, will run the show. In the past, the extent of her participation was limited to serving the men with their breakfast. How times have changed.
spark to a Flame For the Vikings, the flame festival begins long before the procession. The Guizer Jarl and crew wander
around town all day before lighting their torches on the square at Hillhead at 7pm. The best tourist spot is the harbour at 10am, when the Vikings pick up the ship, or at the Shetland Museum at 3pm, when the men in helmets stop for a break and pose for cameras. Handily, the museum shop sells all you need for a one-night Viking experience, from shields to horned helmets. But no pillaging, thank you very much.
Guizer Good The party really starts after 9pm, once the Vikings have sent the ship to Valhalla. The 46 squads make their way around the pubs and halls to entertain visitors with sketches, shows and dance routines. This is a carnival with a very Hiberno-Viking twist and you’ll need tickets for the dancehall fun. They’re available online in advance but you will need an invitation from a Guizer for all the other 11 dancehalls. But fret not: most Vikings will exchange a favour for a dram or two. The party doesn’t stop till 8am. It’s a good job Wednesday’s a public holiday.
Things bode pretty ill for the ship when the torches are lit at 7pm
WeatHer WitH you Lerwick is the largest town in the Shetland Islands with a population of 7,500. The average January temperature is 3.1°C, but it can get much worse, as snowstorms on Up Helly Aa Day prove. That doesn’t bother the Vikings, though. The ceremony has never been cancelled for bad weather since its inception in 1873. How could it, when the event’s promo-posters declare, in bold type: “There will be no postponement for weather”?
The ‘Jarls’ are provided with new shields and axes every year
wOrDS: fLOrIAn ObkIrcHEr. pHOTOgrApHy: mAUrITIUS (5)
GettinG tHere You can get to Lerwick by ferry from Aberdeen or Kirkwall, or you can fly. There are flights to Sumburgh Airport on the Shetlands’ southern tip, from London, Glasgow or Edinburgh. Then it’s a short bus or cab ride into town.
aCCommodation There are plenty of B&Bs in town, though hotel accommodation is scarcer. Try Kveldsro House in the town centre (from £105/€122 a night), or The Lerwick Hotel on Breiwick Bay (around £100/€120 a night).
About a thousand hobby Vikings make their way through the streets
The Shetlands may be part of the British Isles, but their proximity to Norway ties them closely to another land. Vikings landed here in the ninth century and Oslo is a third less distant (just 660km) than London.
Up Helly Aa takes place in Lerwick (Scotland) on January 31. Find further info at www.uphellyaa.org
MORE BODY & MIND
THE WORLD’S BEST CHEFS
Have food, will travel
WHAT’S ON THE MENU AT HANGAR-7
NUNO MENDES Movement is the inspiration for this Portuguese, who trained at the California Culinary Academy in the US before finding fame in London
‘Viajante’ – Portuguese for ‘traveller’ – isn’t just the name of Nuno Mendes’s east London restaurant, for which his culinary creativity won a Michelin star in January last year; viajante is also Mendes’s motto for life. It’s obvious in his enthusiasm for challenging traditions and from his itchy-footedness in the kitchen: “I get nervous when I have to be still.” Viajante also applies to Mendes’s past: he founded a record label when he was 16, went to Miami to study marine biology at 18 (“I was a huge Jacques Cousteau fan”) then switched his attention to gastronomy, which brought him into the kitchens of Wolfgang Puck, Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Ferran Adrià. He eventually settled in London, where he turned a run-down pub into a culinary hotspot, only then to withdraw to cook for guests in his private loft – now an exclusive supper club three nights a week. His determined idiosyncrasy has impressed fellow super-chefs such as René Redzepi of Copenhagen’s Noma. Redzepi is currently the world’s most soughtafter culinary master, and it was he who urged the head chef at Salzburg’s Hangar-7 restaurant to take on Mendes as this month’s guest chef. Brill with horseradish and redcurrants
Viajante Patriot Square London E2 9NF www.viajante.co.uk Viajante can be found serving up top international cuisine in east London’s Town Hall Hotel. It preserves the intimacy and charm of a supper club, not least because the kitchen is part of the dining area. Fancy Mendes’s cuisine without a reservation or the splash of cash? No problem. Head for the hotel’s Corner Room.
Hangar-7’s guest chefs Every month, a world-renowned guest chef comes to the Ikarus Restaurant in Hangar-7, at Salzburg airport, and teams up with the permanent in-house kitchen staff to create two special menus. The guest chef for January is Portuguese Nuno Mendes, from the Michelin-starred Viajante restaurant in the Bethnal Green area of east London. You can find out more information about his menus and other forthcoming guest chefs at Ikarus at www.hangar-7.com. Culinary Highflyers 2011, the Hangar-7 cookbook, is available now. Order online at shop.hangar-7.com
PHOTOGRAPHY: RUTGER PAUW/RED BULL HANGAR-7
Like father, like son “I’ve worked with a lot of great chefs around the world, but my father was my most important teacher. He taught me how to taste food, how to enjoy food and most importantly, how to cook food. I was already cooking in the kitchen at home when I was five years old.” Kitchen-sink autobiography “I categorise my cuisine as Iberian with a hint of Asian and South American, but only when I’m forced to. I prefer to think of it as a personal interpretation of my culinary experiences, so it has Portuguese, Japanese and British influences. And many others.” Restlessness as motivation “I’m always on the lookout for something new. And there’s nothing I enjoy more than a challenge.”
more body & mind
cook global let the world be your kitchen
Totally fermented national sausages – made out of fermented meats and served with mustard – are always a good excuse for a beer words: klaus kamolz. photography: fotostudio eisenhut & mayer
Romanians stress that the national sausage of their Black Sea homeland has little in common with the famous Slavic Ćevapčići; naturally they consider their own mititei (Romanian for ‘small ones’) far superior. In summer, these tasty minced rolls of fermented mixed meats (usually beef or pork) are cooked over hot coals and sold very cheaply on bustling street corners. They’re also regarded as a restaurant barometer: if the mititei are good, the rest of the menu’s probably pukka. Opinions differ as to how exactly the meats used for mititei should be prepared. Many families have their own special recipes with secret herbs and spices, but the most important thing is the drawn-out process of fermenting the meats overnight using baking soda and soda water, which gives mititei their unique flavour. Even more important is that mititei taste best served with white bread and lots of garlic and mustard. (Oh, and plenty of beer or schnapps to wash them down.)
recipe Serves 4 1kg of beef, pork or 500g of each (preferably the nape or neck) 1tsp marjoram 1tsp thyme 1tsp coriander 1tsp sweet paprika 1 spike star anis
1tsp pimento 5 cloves garlic, crushed Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste 1tsp baking soda 125ml soda water 1tbsp lemon juice 1 to 2tbsp suet Vegetable oil Curing salt (optional)
Put all the meats through the mincer twice. Mince roughly the first time, then more finely the second time. Place in a large bowl. Pound the herbs together with the pimento in a mortar and pestle, then add to the bowl with the crushed garlic and season with salt and pepper. Gradually work in the baking soda, soda water, lemon juice and suet. Then tenderise the meat for about an hour: take a handful, knead thoroughly and smack it into the bowl. It should end up even in consistency, like mincemeat. Place in a sealed container and leave to sit in the fridge overnight. Remove from the fridge an hour before cooking, wet your hands and shape the mixture into index-finger-length sausages. Grill over charcoal or fry in a pan with a little vegetable oil (at this point if you season the mititei with curing salt, you’ll get a smoky aroma in the pan, too). The sausages should be cooked the whole way through. Serve with white bread, good-quality mustard and beer or schnapps.
MORE BODY & MIND
GET THE GEAR ESSENTIAL PRO KIT
STEFAN GLOWACZ The German climber is tackling the mountains of Patagonia this month. Here’s what he’s got with him on the expedition
1 Beal rope A climber’s umbilical cord: it can hold tonnes. I use a Beal single rope, the ever-dry type, with a 9.8mm diameter. It’s 70m long and weighs about 4kg.
2 Marmot Alpinist jacket/trousers Both jacket and trousers are fitted out with robust triple-layer Gore-Tex Pro Shell fabric. They’re breathable, waterproof and windproof. Pretty much indestructible.
3 Wild Country Ultralite climbing harness We wear the harness on the cliff-face, even when sleeping. This one has a zip lock and elastic leg loops, and weighs 340g. 4 Wild Country Friends support equipment Light and colour-coded, these clamps come in nine different sizes with variable bay widths. They let you find your footing, in and out of cracks, quickly and dependably.
Stefan Glowacz hangs out with his equipment
WORDS: ULRICH CORAZZA. PHOTOGRAPHY: MANFRED BURGER
5 Jetboil hanging boiler The hard, anodized aluminium container with an integrated burner base screws onto a can of fuel (a mix of isobutene and propane). You can boil half a litre of water for tea or freezedried meals – rice, noodles, stews – in two minutes. 6 Bonnie & Clyde Red Chili karabiner These light karabiners have two solid catches and a precision key lock. In difficult conditions I carry between 50 and 80 of them. 7 Petzl Myo Rxp headlamp I use headlamps with detachable battery packs, which I carry under my clothes. My body heat significantly prolongs the battery life.
8 Black Diamond Cliff Cabana Double Portaledge We spend our nights in this: a 7kg aluminium frame with single-point rigging. It sleeps two – fully roped, of course. There is also a flysheet that we can hang over the apparatus to provide protection against snow, rain and storms. 9 Red Chili Corona climbing shoes The rubber toe box makes this high-end shoe particularly good for difficult cracks. 10 & 11 Charlet Moser crampons and ice axes For ice-climbing stretches I need my old ice hammer, a light, ergonomic ice pick and the 12-pronged crampon with straps. 12 Lowa Vertical GT mountaineering boots Perfect for ice and snow, as well as for mixed climbing with crampons. They may be light, but they still provide the required stiffness. 13 Marmot haul bag For transporting equipment and provisions I use these robust 90-litre haul bags. They have a good harness system and ingenious suspension device for tightening in the cliff-face. …and inside the bag Marmot Thor expedition tent The thin nylon can withstand the worst storms. Marmot Helium down sleeping bag A very low weight, very low volume, down-filled sleeping bag. Exped down-filled sleeping pad It’s cavities are filled with highquality duck down to block out the cold, even when we’re lying directly on the ice in snow caves. www.glowacz.de
MORE BODY & MIND
WORK OUT TRAINING WITH THE PROS
The Spanish endurance rider goes into this month’s Dakar Rally as favourite and with one aim: to defend his title at the world’s toughest off-road race
Coma spends more than 19 hours a week on two wheels. Here’s how he trains his body to cope with the strain
Marc Coma won the Dakar Rally in 2006 when it was still held on African soil. Three years later, the Spaniard won again as the rally made its debut in South America. (The 2008 event was cancelled due to security concerns; the following year it took place in Argentina and Chile.) One thing remains constant, despite the change in continents: the Dakar is still the world’s toughest endurance motor race. This year, drivers and riders, of cars, trucks, motorcycles and quads, set off from Mar del Plata in Argentina, for a gruelling 14-day competition that will cover more than 9,000km across Argentina, Chile and, for the first time, Peru. Coma has been preparing for his title defence on his KTM 450 for months. “My coach worked out a different programme for each day so that there was always a new incentive to train,” he says. “At the same time, he monitors my progress and intensity very carefully.” Another piece of the puzzle is the three-time Dakar winner’s nutrition plan. Twice a day he eats foods rich in protein, such as fish or chicken, as well as lots of fruit and vegetables.
Coma: Dakar winner in 2006, ’09 and ’11
Six days a week 8.00am: wake-up call 8.45am: breakfast Monday Morning: 75 minutes of training on an easy off-road course Afternoon: Fitness training, 4 x 10 reps, 1 min rest between – bench presses, military presses, back training, core strengthening exercises Tuesday Morning: 3 hours of road biking, at a heart rate of 100-160bpm Wednesday Morning: 5-hour endurance session, incorporating 250km of road book [detailed course notes] navigation
Thursday Morning: 3 hours of road biking, at a heart rate of 100-160bpm Afternoon: Fitness training, 4 x 10 reps, 1 min rest between – bench presses, military presses, back training, core strengthening exercises Friday Morning: 2-hour endurance session Saturday Morning: 3 hours of road biking, maintaining a heart rate of 100-160bpm Afternoon: 2.5-hour trial biking session Sunday Rest day
Joy in hard work You don’t become a triple Dakar winner by being uncompetitive. Coma is ever the fighter, both in training and race situations “I have been able to turn my hobby into my job; it’s where I draw my daily motivation and challenges from,” says Coma, 35. “I feel like a warrior looking for a duel every day. Any sportsman’s ambition can only be to win. It’s as simple as that. But you should never just think of the end result.” The secret of his success? “There isn’t one. You’re not gifted anything on a plate. You’ve got to be willing to make sacrifices and work hard to achieve everything. Hour after hour after hour.” www.marccoma.com
WORDS: ULRICH CORAZZA. PHOTOGRAPHY: ERIC GAILLARD/REUTERS/ACTION IMAGES (2)
The last Dakar to Dakar was in 2007: since 2009, it has traversed the deserts of South America
Planning on tackling the chilly slopes of the Wicklow Mountains? Or perhaps you want to brave the frosty peaks of the Himalayas? Whether you’re a casual hill walker, or an experienced thrill seeker, Base Camp is perfectly suited to kit you out for your next adventure, no matter how big or small. Ever since opening in 2010, this 100% Irish-owned and independent mountain sports store has been building a solid reputation as experts in all things adventure and has already equipped Irish alpinists on expeditions to Alaskan, Andean, Himalayan and Karakorum mountains. Base Camp only hire staff with extensive alpine and expedition experience who have tested clothing and equipment in the most hostile conditions so customers might be served by an Everest summiteer one day or a big-wall soloist the next. This winter Basecamp utilises that hard-won experience to launch a stylish and practical new range of winter kit and gadgetry in store. So if you’re heading to your first big ascents in Antarctica, hillwalking in the Burren, or simply want to stay warm and dry on the streets of Dublin, there is nowhere in Ireland where you’ll find more genuine, experienced advice than Basecamp. www.basecamp.ie / ph: 01 44 30 800
Concern are setting off on a breathtaking and epic adventure in Africa next summer and you could be part of it. Following the success of their first ever Tri-Adventure in India this year Concern have set their sights on the stunning location of Uganda for 2012. You will complete an epic 300km itinerary over the course of seven exhilarating days in a journey that can truly be described as a feast for the senses. This stunning event will bring you from the summit of Mt Elgon, the oldest and largest solitary volcano in East Africa, to the source of the infamous White Nile. Participants will trek, cycle and kayak through rural villages and farmland and to some of the most remote Islands along the Nile. Concern began working in Uganda in 1980 with a famine relief operation and has had a continuous presence in the country since 1990. Their vision is of a Uganda where absolute poverty is eliminated and social equity exists. They need enthusiastic volunteers to join their team so they can continue their important work in the country. You will depart on the 11th August 2012 and return on the 21st.
For more information visit www.concernchallenge.org/Uganda or call 01 417 8028.
53 DEGREES NORTH
Dublin-based outdoor retailer 53 Degrees North has finally travelled south and opened its first branch outside the capital. The well known outdoor adventure store has launched a stunning new 6,000 square foot store smack bang in the middle of Cork City Centre on Paul Street. This unique and charming building is a joy to shop in while the floor to ceiling windows and arched windows upstairs are a must see. The beautiful old building has been given a subtle modern finish while keeping all of the original features and the store is packed full of the top outdoor adventure brands in the world. Whether you are into hiking, walking, camping, running, skiing or climbing, 53 Degrees North has you covered. This exciting new store features some of the world’s leading brands, including The North Face, Berghaus, Columbia, Icebreaker, O’Neill, Animal, Brasher, Lowa, Scarpa and many more. Expert staff are on hand to tackles any questions and a handy price promise guarantee means you won’t find cheaper equipment anywhere else in the people’s republic. 53 Degrees North also have stores in Blanchardstown and Carrickmines www.53degreesnorth.ie / ph: 021 494 9804
Like the rest of us, you’ve probably indulged in one too many mince pies over the festive season and feel the urge to get back in shape before the sun returns to our shores. But if you’re the type of person who finds solitary trips to the gym a little mundane, CrossFit might be just the thing for you. At CrossFit the focus is on getting fit in a sociable, friendly and fun environment. These guys believe that working out should be an enjoyable experience and so they tailor make their classes to include a variety of tasks and exercises which are challenging but also enjoyable. Members will learn a whole host of new skills from gymnastics and body weight movements, to rowing, jumping, throwing and weightlifting. CrossFit also hosts regular in-house fitness competitions at their specially built state of the art facility in Sandyford which includes two 300 square foot strength and conditioning centres. CrossFit also hosts group weekends away and because membership is split evenly between men and women, it’s a great place to meet like-minded people. CrossFit is suitable for everyone from professional and amateur athletes to enthusiastic weekend warriors. www.CrossFit.ie / ph: 01 206 3669
more body & mind
More than 1,000 revellers dance till dawn at Symbol
“I’ve got time machines”
Out nOw essential listening
GOnjASUfi With psychedelic mantras that sound like something from another planet, this Us spiritualist is the new alien of pop
Party all over the world
DJ Toto spins the house tracks all night long
SYMBOL, BUDAPEST the club that’s not just a club, because it’s also an italian fusion restaurant, a gallery, a cocktail bar and so much more
you could come to symbol every night for a week and never do the same thing twice. it’s divided into seven distinct sections – for eating, drinking, dancing, peoplewatching – whatever your night-time preference. this magnificent building in budapest’s district iii was built in 1782. From the outside, little has changed. stately columns on the façade lend symbol the grace and splendour of days gone by. inside, those seven modern and very distinct interior spaces anchor the building firmly in the now. most striking is the garden under a splendid glass atrium. shady in summer and heated in winter, it’s open all year round – the only place like it in budapest. Just as the garden defies the seasons, symbol cannot be pigeonholed as just a nightclub. you can have an italian meal in the restaurant, or a snack in the 92
cafe, with its stunning blue glass décor; at night, it’s a buzzing bar, with hundreds of different cocktails on offer. one floor below is the dancefloor, kitted out with the latest sophisticated sound and light technology. after a hard day on the track, this is where Formula one drivers such as lewis hamilton and sébastien buemi come to unwind after the hungarian grand prix. resident dJ toto spins house hits (Welcome To St. Tropez by dJ antoine vs timati is a regulars’ favourite) or local bands play live. and after dancing your socks off for most of the night, you can recharge your batteries with a breakfast of champions: the kitchen serves pizzas – really good ones – until 5am. Symbol Bécsi út 56, 1036 Budapest, Hungary +36 1 333 5656 www.symbolbudapest.hu
Gonjasufi: a spiritual rapper, singer, DJ and yoga teacher
Words: Florian obkircher. photography: timothy saccenti (1)
Is Gonjasufi quite crackling static and a spiritual person? scratchy vocals over i’m all about energy, experimental rock man. our body is songs, mysterious temporary. that’s sounds, oriental why i always see melodies and MU.ZZ.LE: the recording convoluted hip-hop Cosmic hip-hop devices i’ve got beats. california’s meets space-rock as time machines. gonjasufi creates my ideas will live on long songs that sound as after i’m under the earth. if nasa had sent a Jimi Do you work with samples? hendrix record into space sometimes. i record drums and aliens had sent back and keyboards and then a remix. the result is the chop it up in the computer. sound of another planet, but on the other hand, there another time. of course, that are songs like Sniffing could also have to do with which was just a loop that the fact that gonjasufi lives i tweaked the shit out of. shut off from the rest of the You’re in the Brainfeeder world in the mojave desert. artists’ collective. If you the red bulletin: What were The Muppets, which is it about the desert that one would you be? inspires your music? i’d be like the dude who gonjasufi: it’s very quiet. came around with the When i was working in my scissors and cuts the strings. home in san diego, i used to i’d be saying, “F*** Jim worry about having people henson, you’re all free!” standing at my windows listening to what i was doing and chuckling when i was Gonjasufi’s new mini album, recording. here, if i have MU.ZZ.LE, is out on January 23 a problem with anybody on Warp Records. Get previews and tour dates at www.sufisays.com i can just bury them outside.
MORE BODY & MIND
TAKE FIVE THE ALBUMS THAT INFLUENCED THE STARS
“Funkadelic was the first album I actually danced to”
RZA His Wu-Tang beats revolutionised hip-hop. The Grammy Award-winning producer talks to The Red Bulletin about the five records that changed his world
WORDS: FLORIAN OBKIRCHER. PHOTOGRAPHY: GETTY IMAGES (1)
To the adolescence of early ’90s hip-hop, Robert Fitzgerald Diggs (stage name RZA) brought a maturity founded in the discipline and benevolence of the Shaolin monks he idolised. In 1993, the Staten Island crew released their debut album, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), its raucous, nimble lyricism and spare and menacing beats were the US east coast’s answer to west coast hip-hop’s dominance at the time. Those beats were fashioned by the RZA, who borrowed from a mix of soul, funk and kung-fu film clips, and crafted them in the basement
The Wu-Tang don in action: RZA takes turns on the mic, but he’s known more as a pioneer of production
recording studio he’d later use to produce hit records for the Wu’s solo acts, from Method Man to his cousin, the late Ol’ Dirty Bastard. Though he took turns on the mic, his prowess was in guiding the solo careers – and crafting the beats – for the members of the nine-man rap collective. His production work on those albums helped spread hip-hop’s gospel, but the Grammy award-winner continued to increase his range. As an actor, he’s had memorable parts in Coffee And Cigarettes (2003), American Gangster (2007) and Repo Men (2010). He’s composed film soundtracks for Quentin Tarantino and Jim Jarmusch. He’s penned a book, The Tao Of Wu, on the Shaolin philosophy that guided his life and the Wu’s success. Now RZA is in the director’s chair, shooting a martial arts movie starring Russell Crowe. The 42-year-old still makes records, though – and these are some of the albums that continue to influence him.
Kanye West: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy This showed the growth of an individual. It wasn’t just the opportunity to work with him (on the album), I had the chance to see how Kanye worked as an artist. Hip-hop has always been rogue, but he has a focus. I saw him perform the album at the Coachella Festival last year. It was the perfect hip-hop concert. I always wanted to do that, but I could never get anybody to agree. I’ve always had to ask nine guys. It’s easier when you’re solo.
Funkadelic: One Nation Under A Groove I remember having a family reunion and One Nation Under A Groove was playing. Back then, I was a shy kid, but that was the first album I actually danced to, grooved to, had fun to and felt free. Everybody should take a listen to it and enjoy the musical ideas George Clinton had. It wasn’t hip-hop, but a forerunner.
Stevie Wonder: Original Musiquarium I My mother bought a lot of records, and she had one album that was really important. Musiquarium was full of great music: soul songs, ballads, funk – it had everything. That album helped me in my teenage years and inspired me, not just musically. To this day, the songs still resonate.
Malcolm McLaren: Buffalo Gals One night, I was 10 or 11 years old, and up later than I should’ve been with my friends. We were twisting through the radio and we heard somebody rapping and talking in cool slang. The radio show was The World’s Famous Supreme Team, one of the few shows playing hip-hop at the time. Malcolm McLaren did Buffalo Gals with The World’s Famous Supreme Team radio DJs. That album was important because it was one of the first albums of world sound, of hip-hop mixed with different sounds and with synthesisers. It was ahead of its time.
Sugarhill Gang That album, in 1979, was the first time we knew there could be an album for our generation. I never knew someone could make a whole album about hip-hop. On Rapper’s Delight, me, my brother and my cousin, Vince, would rap through the whole song. And when Ol’ Dirty Bastard got older, he would use some of the style on his own album. When he rapped, “Let’s take it back to ’79,” on the Wu-Tang track Triumph, he was talking about back then. Rapper’s Delight was no hooks, it was just rappers rapping through the whole song. The idea was, ‘You don’t need no hooks, just keep rhyming.’ RZA at the Red Bull Music Academy: www.redbullmusicacademy. com/people/rza
MORE BODY & MIND
World in Action
7 4 9
GLOBAL EVENTS OF NOTE THIS MONTH 6 JANUARY 15, THE BEVERLY HILTON, LOS ANGELES, USA
The awards year kicks off with the ceremony for the gongs bestowed by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Ricky Gervais returns as host, despite saying he would not three-peat after his barbs in 2011 were considered too near the knuckle (“Please welcome Ashton Kutcher’s dad!” he said, introducing Bruce Willis.) It is said that if you win at the Globes, then you have a great chance of doubling up at the Oscars in February. It proved true last year for, among others, Colin Firth (The King’s Speech), Natalie Portman (Black Swan) and Christian Bale (The Fighter).
JANUARY 17-22, MONACO
JANUARY 16-29, MELBOURNE PARK, MELBOURNE
Monte Carlo Rally
the first Grand Slam tournament of 2 As the year celebrates its 100th birthday, the world’s top three in the men’s game appear to be having their cake and eating it. Between them, title holder Novak Djokovic, Rafa Nadal (winner here in 2009) and Roger Federer have won every Slam since Marat Safin won here in 2005, with the exception of the US Open in 2009, won by Juan Martín del Potro. Federer comes in on top championship form, thanks to a sixth Tour Finals title in London last November.
The first rally held on the French Riviera, in 1911, is seen as the mother of modern rallying. This year, the event is back on the World Rally Championship Calendar for the first time since 2008, and is the 2012 WRC opener. Frenchman Sébastien Loeb won that rally four years ago, and will begin his attempt for a remarkable ninth successive world title at an event he has already won five times previously (another record for his pile). The ‘Night of the Long Knives’, the special stages run in the dark on the narrow, hairpin-bend ridden mountain passes at Col de Turni, is one of all motorsport’s highlights.
JANUARY 18–22, BUSINESS DESIGN CENTRE, ISLINGTON
JANUARY 19-23, MIAMI, USA TO COZUMEL, MEXICO
The Weezer Cruise It’s a classic career move for any longrocking band, isn’t it? Twenty years after you formed, nine albums in, you commandeer a cruise ship and invite some of your favourite available bands to join you and a (hopefully) capacity passenger list of 2,642 for four nights of gigs, wine tasting and rock bingo at sea. Indie survivors Weezer have invited the likes of Sebadoh and Dinosaur Jr to join them aboard the Carnival Destiny in the Gulf of Mexico. Once they return to shore, the American four-piece plan to finish the album they’ve been working on since 2010.
London Art Fair
Sandwiched between the Frieze Art Fair, held in Hyde Park every October, and the original Affordable Art Fair every March in Battersea Park, the London Art Fair is part of the UK capital’s trio of increasingly large and significant art marts. The London Art Fair’s USP is its modernity: either the work or the galleries participating have to be spankingly contemporary. Aside from the 100 galleries comprising the main show, this commitment is underlined by the Art Projects section, which showcases only brand-new artworks and exhibitors, and the Photo50 collection of images by contemporary photographers.
2 Australian Open champ Novak Djokovic
4 Andrew Salgado’s art, as seen in London
JANUARY 26, STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN
“I can provide everything that you desire,” sang D’Angelo, on his 2000 track, Untitled (How Does It Feel). A dozen years on from that Grammy-winning hit, and with nothing to show in his discography in the interim, does he still have what the people want? A career stalled by problems with drugs and the law is getting a second act, with a forthcoming album and a short European tour giving a foretaste of the material on it, which begins this month in Scandinavia. The album is produced by ?uestlove, The Roots’ drummer and all-round good egg, who has likened it to a “black version of Smile” the long-lost, now-found Beach Boys treasure. No pressure, then...
JANUARY 26-29, ASPEN, COLORADO, USA
Winter X Games XVI
What was once banished to the nether regions of unloved sports channels’ schedules is now a global TV hit, broadcast live in 175 countries. The Winter X Games’ rise to become the premier action sports competition on snow has been rapid, and this year’s 16th incarnation, in which more than 200 competitors will take part, has plenty to do to measure up to last year’s. Among the highlights in 2011 were Kelly Clark’s gold-winning turn in the Snowboard Superpipe, which featured the first-ever 1080 landed by a lady, and Torstein Horgmo’s first-ever triple back somersault, by either sex, in the Snowboard Big Air.
FEBRUARY 3,4, VALKENBURG, NETHERLANDS
Red Bull Crashed Ice
PHOTOGRAPHY: GETTY IMAGES (2), BEERS LAMBERT/LONDON ART FAIR, SEBASTIAN MARKO/RED BULL CRASHED ICE
No, no, after me, I insist: fierce competition in Red Bull Crashed Ice
JANUARY 20-25, BATOKUNKU, THE GAMBIA
Ariwa Back To Africa
The mixing console is his instrument, reverb is his tool. When the Mad Professor gets behind the controller, a simple dub flavour becomes a feast for the ears. Massive Attack and The Orb are among the many acts who can vouch for the London producer’s remixing abilities. This January marks the 30th anniversary of his founding of the Ariwa record label, and he’s heading to the largest-ever dub and reggae festival held on the African continent, to celebrate in performance alongside the likes of Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry.
In festival spirit: Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry
Round two of the third world championships of Icecross Downhill, a thrilling combination of the best of ice hockey, boardercross and downhill skiing. Last year’s series also stopped here in Holland, where Arttu Philainen of Finland came out on top, a victory he used as a springboard to the overall 2011 title. In Icecross Downhill, four men race down a temporary ice course, which is usually built in a town square or city-centre location. The competition is fierce, as is the support. A crowd of 25,000 turned up in Valkenburg last year; 40,000 were at a 2009 race in Lausanne, Switzerland. After Holland, the third and final 2012 races are in Aare, Sweden and Quebec City, Canada, respectively.
FEBRUARY 5, INDIANAPOLIS, USA
Super Bowl XLVI
As any American or Roman can tell you, it’s almost time for the 46th American football championship game. Six months ago, with the NFL’s players still ‘locked out’ after a disagreement with team owners, the chance of kick-off in the Lucas Oil Stadium next month was very low indeed. But all came good for the start of the 2011 season, which thus far has two stand-out teams: reigning Super Bowl champions the Green Bay Packers and the San Francisco 49ers, who haven’t been at the big game since 1995. US TV networks also look forward to selling the world’s most lucrative ad slots, at half-time. Last year 30 seconds cost $3m.
MORE BODY & MIND
Save the Date Jan/Feb 2012
THE THINGS TO WATCH, CHEER FOR, QUEUE FOR AND RUE FOR (DEPENDING ON YOUR TEAM) THIS MONTH
FROM FEBRUARY 4
The joy of six
FROM JANUARY 21
Nation’s finest Two things happen every time the African Cup of Nations is held. The first is that managers of top European clubs with African players bemoan their charges’ potential three-week absence. The second is that football folk debate The African Question, namely: When Will An African Side Win The World Cup? Egypt, winners of four of the last seven African titles, including the last three, have only appeared in the World Cup on two occasions: 22 years ago in Italy and 78 years ago in Italy. They will be favourites this year, in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. And pity those poor club managers: there will be another African Cup of Nations next year, in South Africa, to take the tournament out of Olympic years. www.cafonline.com
Wales will be one of the favourites, but never write off the Irish
Cross purposes After rounds in Sheffield and Belfast, the British Supercross Championships makes its third stop this month in London, at Wembley Arena. It’s the fourth year in a row that this famous venue has hosted a BSX event, and fans and riders alike have come to relish the indoor action. Brad Anderson, 2011 British motocross champion, will be looking to add to his round two victory in Belfast. It won’t be hard for him, or the many other riders who race in both sports, to switch between the two.
Supercross is the one with more technical difficulty, and always on artificial tracks; motocross is the faster, outdoors one, with more mud and fewer jumps and twists and turns. fwsx.com/bsx
WORDS: PAUL WILSON. PHOTOGRAPHY: ACTION IMAGES, GETTY IMAGES, IAN ROXBURGH/EVENTS22, DANIEL DESMARAIS/CIRQUE DE SOLEIL INC.
Have there ever been teams with more to prove than those in this year’s Six Nations? Even Italy, who beat France last year – can they play well three games in a row? Can Ireland perform without their injured skipper Brian O’Driscoll? Scotland will be looking to end their four-match losing streak, England’s disintegration on and off the pitch makes them the tournament’s mystery side, while France gained more enemies than friends on their run to the World Cup final. But Wales will be keen to show that agonising World Cup semifinal defeat has made them stronger.
UNTIL FEBRUARY 5
For all mankind Cirque du Soleil returns to the Royal Albert Hall for a second run of Totem, one of its newest shows (it made its debut in 2010). The theme is “the evolution of mankind”, which you kind of lose sight of due to the stream of stunts: leaping, swinging, spinning, catching, dancing and always landing. The term ‘family entertainment’ is used to describe something for adults and children to enjoy together. What it really means is kids stuff with grown-up jokes, or dumbed-down old turns. Cirque du Soleil is neither of those, but it is one of few things people of all ages can be wowed by. www.cirquedusoleil.com
ennis, for me, is a compulsion of almost erotic intensity. Since it (usually) lasts longer, it may be even more important than sex. Not that I am any good at it. In fact, I am unnaturally bad. I don’t mean “not very good”, I mean worse than what might be expected of an average sentient and mobile human. That’s not false modesty. For someone of my age, habits and genetically acquired characteristics, I am fit. I have strength and stamina and surprise myself and others over 10km, but my co-ordination is so bad that if poor hand-eye relationships were criminalised, I would be in jail. But I persist. In fact, I sometimes think my on-court humiliation must be some sort of self-inflicted occult therapy. The sporting equivalent of colonic irrigation, purging myself of all the emotional toxins that comprise my off-court personality. But there’s more. Tennis is the only sport I enjoy watching. An impatient type, I can stare in a hypnotic trance of approval. Why is this? I believe the answer lies in my tormented suburban past in which a tennis club represented a sort of dream world where sunshine and brown bodies were united in carefree bliss. Anyway, enough of that. As I write, I have just come back from the ATP Finals in London, watching brown bodies get themselves in a frightful state. The apparently simple task of thwacking a ball this way and that is, it turns out, not only specially demanding of the body, but also of the mind. Is anyone fitter than a tennis player? Is there any sport more productive of soul-sucking psychological anguish? I don’t think so. The day I was at the Finals, we had a competition to write a punning tabloid headline. Mine was “Federer batters Fish”. Mardy Fish, number eight in the world, was made to look like a lumbering oik by the cool Roger Federer. It was as if Apollo had wandered into a Texas truck-stop and dragged a dozing driver out of his booth and onto the court. Watching Rog toy with
Brain Over Balls Being the world’s greatest tennis player requires beyond-mortal qualities, says Stephen Bayley Fish brought me to my new Theory of Sweat. A physician will tell you that sweating is a sort of human thermostat: get too hot through exertion, you sweat and the physics of evaporation means you cool down. But we also sweat when in shock, an effect called diaphoresis. Thing is, Federer does not sweat. This is because he neither gets hot, nor does he panic. Tennis is all about the imposition and absorption of panic. Specifics are boggling. The ball spends perhaps four or five milliseconds on the returner’s racquet. The time to analyse and respond to what you have seen your opponent do greatly exceeds the time of the ball in-flight across the court. So, on top of mere athleticism, a winning tennis player has to add a predictive ability. The ball is not seen so much as conceptualised. Indeed, there has been sports science research on this. Winning players read the opponent’s posture and assess the probabilities at a speed beyond conscious thought. Whereas I simply stand there and let the yellow thing fly past me. Put it this way: Federer is operating visual searches and processing data
like a supercomputer. He does this so well, he is the winningest player of them all. Back to the sweat. Federer has better intellectual information than everyone else, so needs to exert himself rather less. At the same time, he has confronted and contemptuously eliminated whatever nasty little demons of panic once bothered him. In external interviews, Federer explains that he persuades himself panic is not his friend. In internal dialogues he tells himself he is the champion and acts like it. He preserves energy. In all things, but especially in end-changes in tennis, authority is communicated by slow movement. While Fish slouches and Rafael Nadal jogs manically between points, Federer strolls with a lordly disdain. After a few points, Nadal looks as if he’s been wrestling with a bull under the Majorcan midday sun, while Federer looks as if he’s just stepped out of a temperaturecontrolled Credit Suisse bank vault. No sweat? You bet. But this frigid mastery has its critics. US doubles player Bob Bryan says: “There’s something not right about a guy with blow-dried hair during a battle. That’s some ExtraTerrestrial Shit!” True, experts believe Roger Federer was not born in the Swiss town of Basel, but on the planet Krypton where sweating and panic are forbidden. In fact, all the evidence points to Roger Federer being a more highly evolved human being than the rest of us. He can read the future, he sweats not, panic is a weakness, opponents are trivial interlopers. And then a supportive vision comes to mind: Roger in a bad hotel in his awful own-brand clothing plucking miserably from a bowl of maraschino cherries while desultorily channelswapping and wearing a cap back-tofront. And perspiring ever so slightly. See if you can return that one, Roger. Stephen Bayley is an award-winning writer and a former director of the Design Museum in London
THE RED BULLETIN United Kingdom: The Red Bulletin is published by Red Bulletin GmbH Editor-in-Chief Robert Sperl Deputy Editor-in-Chief Alexander Macheck General Managers Alexander Koppel, Rudolf Theierl Executive Editor Anthony Rowlinson Associate Editor Paul Wilson Contributing Editors Andreas Tzortzis, Stefan Wagner Chief Sub-editor Nancy James Deputy Chief Sub-editor Joe Curran Production Editor Marion Wildmann Chief Photo Editor Fritz Schuster Creative Photo Director Susie Forman Deputy Photo Editors Valerie Rosenburg, Catherine Shaw, Rudolf Übelhör Creative Director Erik Turek Art Director Kasimir Reimann Design Patrick Anthofer, Martina de Carvalho-Hutter, Miles English, Ken Ulrich Pasche, Esther Straganz Staff Writers Ulrich Corazza, Werner Jessner, Ruth Morgan, Florian Obkircher, Arkadiusz Piatek, Andreas Rottenschlager Corporate Publishing Boro Petric (head), Christoph Rietner, Nadja Zele (chief-editors); Dominik Uhl (art director); Markus Kucera (photo director); Lisa Blazek (editor) Head of Production Michael Bergmeister Production Wolfgang Stecher (mgr), Walter Omar Sádaba Repro Managers Clemens Ragotzky (head), Claudia Heis, Nenad Isailovic, Karsten Lehmann, Josef Mühlbacher, Thomas Posvanc Finance Siegmar Hofstetter, Simone Mihalits Marketing & Country Management Barbara Kaiser (head), Stefan Ebner, Lukas Scharmbacher, Johanna Troger; Birgit Lohmann (design); Klaus Pleninger (sales); Peter Schiffer (subscriptions); Nicole Glaser (subscriptions and sales marketing) Advertising enquiries A product of the Deirdre Hughes +35 (0) 3 86 2488504. The Red Bulletin is published simultaneously in Austria, France, Germany, Ireland, Kuwait, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, Switzerland, the UK and the USA. Website www.redbulletin.com. Head office: Red Bulletin GmbH, Am Brunnen 1, A-5330 Fuschl am See, FN 287869m, ATU63087028. UK office: 155-171 Tooley Street, London SE1 2JP, +44 (0) 20 3117 2100. Austrian office: Heinrich-Collin-Strasse 1, A-1140 Vienna, +43 (1) 90221 28800.The Red Bulletin (Ireland): Susie Dardis, Richmond Marketing, 1st Floor Harmony Court, Harmony Row, Dublin 2, Ireland +35 386 8277993. Printed by Prinovis Liverpool Ltd, www.prinovis.com Write to us: email email@example.com
THE NEXT ISSUE OF THE RED BULLETIN IS OUT ON FEBRUARY 7 & 17
MORE BODY & MIND
FATE DOESNâ€™T ASK. IT COuLD ALSO bE mE. Or yOu. David Coulthard,
13-fold Formula 1 GP Champion and Wings for Life ambassador.
SPINAL COrD INJury muST bECOmE CurAbLE. In funding the best research projects worldwide focusing on the cure of spinal cord injury, the Wings for Life Spinal Cord research Foundation guarantees top-level medical and scientific progress.
your contribution makes a difference. Donate on www.wingsforlife.com