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outta this world! Red Red Bull Bull Stratos Strat o Ready for space jump: Felix Baumgartner’s epic challenge
world without limits for a man who doesn’t do self-doubt, felix Baumgartner comes across as a remarkably fallible mortal in his latest, exclusive interview (page 8) with The Red Bulletin. a career daredevil, who has wingsuit-flown across the english channel and BaSe-jumped from the statue of christ the redeemer in Brazil, he found himself undone by an apparently simple task: remaining inside a space suit in preparation for his record-breaking leap from the stratosphere back to earth, scheduled for later this year. the experience of being so tightly packed, unable to move, or even breathe, with complete freedom, raised previously unknown psychological demons and sent Baumgartner heading for a door marked ‘exit’. for Felix Baumgartner on having to face his demons before he the first time in a remarkable life, he’d found a limit, could take on Red Bull Stratos but where some might have shrugged and said, “oK, enough,” Baumgartner chose to push on through, enlisting help from a psychologist and returning himself to a position of confidence about his ability to provide the human component in a complex endeavour. the ennobling qualities of the human spirit are the foundation of so many of the stories in The Red Mission to the edge of space (and back again): The Red Bulletin’s Werner Jessner (left) talks Bulletin: the men risking their lives to daredevil Felix Baumgartner about Red Bull digging vast tunnels under new york Stratos in Salzburg, Austria, January 2012 city (page 38); the new zealand couple pushing the limits of endurance – and their marriage – in global adventure races (page 62). Why do people such as Baumgartner and others drive themselves so hard, risking the health of both body and mind? their truest motivations are perhaps beyond even their own understanding, but one thing is certain, in their desire to advance known limits, they set examples to us all.
cover photography: Sven hoffmann/red Bull StratoS. photography: gian paul lozza
“I just couldn’t do it. My head was letting me down”
Your editorial team We’ve gone social! Socially networked, that is, with The Red Bulletin’s fanpage on facebook. check it out at www.facebook.com/redbulletin, where you’ll find the stories behind the most spectacular features in the magazine and a lifestyle guide with amazing videos and pictues, and even more exclusive interviews.
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THE WORLD OF RED BULL
PHOTOGRAPHY: DUSTIN SNIPES/RED BULL CONTENT POOL, GIAN PAUL LOZZA, GRAEME MURRAY, NICK MUZIK, TAZ DARLING, GETTY IMAGES, PHILIPP FORSTNER
82 74 27 52
READY FOR LIFT OFF 08 STRATOS Journey to the edge of space: Felix Baumgartner prepares for his balloon flight and free fall back to Earth
Bullevard 24 HERE IS THE NEWS 27 ME & MY BODY Runner’s essential: a flower in your hair 28 AZEALIA BANKS This native New Yorker is rap’s rising star 30 KIT BAG: SNOWMOBILES Winter transport, Ski-Doo style 32 NICOLAS CAGE Sharks, aliens and serious movie-making 34 WINNING FORMULA Snowboarding: it’s just angle poise 36 LUCKY NUMBERS Celebrating The Grammys
Action 38 THE HOLE TRUTH Get down and dirty with the construction guys working in the tunnels under NYC 48 GERARD BUTLER On a Hollywood high after surviving the demon drink and a killer wave 52 SPEED SISTERS The new female Palestinian championship motorsport stars
BODY+ MIND MORE
84 ALASKAN ADVENTURE Forget nursery slopes, this is heliskiing for adrenaline junkies 86 FOOD FOR THOUGHT World-acclaimed chefs and a hearty Finnish dish 88 GET THE GEAR Ice speedway essentials 90 PRO TIPS How the Flying Bulls squadron leader prepares for the air
62 MARRIED TO THE MILES The couple who live, and train, together
92 WORLD’S BEST CLUBS The coolest club in Cairo
68 ROOF OF AFRICA Extreme three-day enduro in Lesotho
92 ESSENTIAL LISTENING Folksters find overnight fame
76 THE LONG WAY HOME Stephen Redmond swims the world
93 TAKE 5 Ethereal duo Air reveal their top movie-music inspirations
94 WORLD IN ACTION Our guide to global essentials
06 KAINRATH’S CALENDAR 18 PICTURES OF THE MONTH 98 MIND’S EYE
96 SAVE THE DATE Out and about this month? Ink these in your diary 05
illustration: dietmar kainrath
K a i n r at h
In January 2010, Felix Baumgartner unveiled Red Bull Stratos, a mission to the edge of the space and back again. He’ll ascend by balloon and free fall back to Earth, breaking world records and becoming the ﬁrst person to break the sound barrier without a machine. After a delay of several months, this daring and complex adventure is ﬁnally ready for take-off
PHoToGRAPHY: SVEN HoffMANN
ReD BUll STRAToS
Felix Baumgartner (far left) wants to take his pressurised balloon gondola to 36km, the highest balloon ďŹ‚ight ever, and then leap back to Earth. No one has ever leapt from such a height before. No parachute jump will have ever lasted so long. No man has ever previously broken the sound barrier in free fall. Red Bull Stratos is following in the footsteps of Project Excelsior, which saw Colonel Joe Kittinger (left) of the US Air Force jump from 31km on August 16, 1960. Kittinger is now Baumgartnerâ€™s mentor, the only man alive who can offer advice on a mission where the slightest error in procedure could prove fatal. Red Bull Stratos is taking all its participants way beyond their comfort zones. Since the project was announced two years ago, the team has had to contend with more challenges than it could ever have foreseen. For a short time, the project appeared to be on the point of collapse. But now Red Bull Stratos is about to get off the ground. The Red Bulletin will follow Baumgartner and his team until his record-breaking jump. This month, Part One of our story begins with a disarming interview with Baumgartner and a proďŹ le of the pioneering Kittinger.
Felix Baumgartner interview SALZBuRG, AuSTRIA
Before ascending into the stratosphere and free falling back to Earth in spectacular, record-breaking fashion, the Austrian BASE-jumper, 42, had to face his demons. At the high point of his life thus far, he hit an all-time low Words: Werner Jessner Photography: Gian Paul Lozza
THE RED BULLETIN: All went quiet on Red Bull Stratos for nine months. What was going on behind the scenes? FELIX BAUMGARTNER: let’s go back to the time before the project was stopped because of a lawsuit. In December 2010, we carried out the last major tests with the space suit and it was clear to me that I had a problem – one I never thought I’d have – with my psyche. I had trouble putting on the space suit and it got worse and worse. I could barely stand a couple of minutes in it. Could you describe the symptoms? The idea was that the suit should feel like a second skin, but it’ll never be like that. Your movements and your perceptions are restricted. As soon as the visor closes there’s this nightmarish silence and loneliness – the suit signifies imprisonment. We hadn’t originally conceived of a test that confined me in the suit for five hours – that’s how long the entire mission should take – with the visor closed. After all my past exploits, all the extreme things I’ve done in my career, no one would have ever guessed that simply wearing a space suit would threaten the mission, me included. In the end, the symptoms developed into panic attacks. You’re exaggerating... No at all. When it came to the crucial pressure test at -60°C, under real conditions with pressure and altitude simulated, and surrounded by cameras, air force personnel and scientists, I realised I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t see a way around this problem. I’d easily mastered what seemed to be huge obstacles, like free fall in a pressure suit, but now my own head was letting me down. Instead of driving to Brooks [The Brooks Academy of Science and Engineering in San Antonio, Texas]
PHoToGRAPHY: GIAN PAul lozzA, JoERG MITTER/RED Bull CoNTNET Pool, WolfGANG luIf, ulRICH GRIll/RED Bull CoNTENT Pool, flo HAGENA
‘I COULDN’T DO IT. MY HEAD WAS LETTING ME DOWN’
And how was that? Through Mike Gervais, a renowned American psychologist, who stripped me down and gave me a ‘toolbox’ of psychological tools, that allowed me to learn how to master the situation. Within two weeks, he coached me from 30 minutes of staying in the suit to ‘I don’t care how long I wear this thing!’ This was my greatest victory to date: I’d found the limit that I’d been looking for my whole career. No Channel flight, no cave, no Jesus statue achieved what that suit did down here at ground level. And with Mike I overcame this hurdle and – as banal as it may sound – I’m stronger than ever before.
Felix Baumgartner came to the world’s attention on April 15, 1999, when he stole his way up to the 88th floor of the Petronas Towers, in Kuala Lumpur, dressed as a businessman and BASE-jumped from a height of 451m, setting a new world record.
Almost eight months later, on December 7, 1999, he mounted Rio’s Christ the Redeemer statue and leapt off its right hand. At just 29m above sea level, this set a new world record for the lowest ever BASE-jump.
On July 31, 2003, Baumgartner was the first man to fly across the English Channel in free fall. He used a self-designed carbon wing and much of this experience has been incorporated into Red Bull Stratos.
One of the most difficult jumps in Baumgartner’s career was his 2004 BASE-jump into the pitch-black bottleneck of the Marmet Cave in Velebit National Park in Croatia, a leap of 190m. A last-minute parachute adjustment prevented disaster.
to go testing, I drove to the airport and hightailed it out of America. I wept on the phone. It was the worst moment of my life. To that point I’d always known how to solve all my own problems. This time, in front of everyone, I’d found my limit. Clearly, you’ve since pushed it higher. We tried several things in training because from a medical standpoint a high basic fitness would also improve my stress resistance. But really, I mean… for 20 years I’ve done the most extreme BASE jumps, I’ve flown over the English Channel [in a wing suit], I’ve shown my stress resistance without hours of exercise bike sessions. The problem had to be solved another way.
So how did he do it? With heavy artillery! Mike forced me to imagine a son and trying to explain to him what Red Bull Stratos means to me. It was a tough journey, but I’ll do anything if it serves my purpose. When I put the helmet on I had to describe my mental state every three minutes, on a scale of one, which is totally relaxed, to 10, panic. At the same time I wore a heart rate monitor. The interesting thing about this was that my heart rate remained totally constant when I was between three and eight on the scale. That was important to know. Next, we analysed my routines: I’d always lose my appetite the day before putting on the suit and this escalated into a nice little panic as we made our way out to visit our Mission Director, Art Thompson. Mike used to work with a martial arts guy who regularly spiralled downwards on the drive to the arena: for him, the fight was already lost before the first hit. He identified these mechanisms and gave me tools which helped me to jump off the negative thought train before it had left the station. Such as? People can only think one thought at a time. You can jump very quickly from one thought to another, but each moment only one thought can be processed. So when I have a bad thought, I have to mentally exit my helmet. So, for example, I’ll spell words backwards. Nothing mysterious, just simple tools that will actually help you your whole life long. Mike also forced me to think things
“We thought we could buy a capsule, three balloons and a suit, and I’d throw myself down and write history. Wrong” 11
The Mission Red Bull Stratos deciphered 36,576m
Baumgartner jumps. It is warmer here than at any other point during the balloon ride up
Baumgartner unlocks the door of his capsule and steps out of the capsule
within 35 secs Baumgartner will reach his maximum speed
down to -60°C Ferociously cold temperatures on the ascent: coldest of all in the troposphere
25,929m JET ALTITUDE RECORD (SR-71 BLACKBIRD)
Air gets denser, slowing Baumgartner down, but making him more aerodynamically sensitive. risk of ﬂat spin greatest
THIS IS WHERE EARTH‘S OZONE LAYER IS AT ITS STRONGEST
Total mission duration 20,000m
15,447m GLIDER ALTITUDE RECORD (PERLAN PROJECT)
Lift off. still morning air is required so that the huge balloon can be inﬂated
11,000m COMMERCIAL FLIGHTS AVERAGE HEIGHT
LAUNCH SITE: ROSWELL (NEW MEXICO)
8,848m MOUNT EVEREST SUMMIT
2,000m Roswell, New Mexico
Baumgartner pulls the ripcord ﬁve-and-a-half minutes after leaving the capsule. He will land 15 minutes later
through to the end: what happens when someone shackles me into my suit and I freak out? I thought I would lash out, fall into a screaming fit and end up suffering a heart attack. Wrong: when your ‘alarm reservoir’ is exhausted, you become quieter and capable of thinking logically again. So knowing the storm will pass and that things get better gives me confidence and allows me to relax a little. Has this experience made you more humble? Not really. Perhaps more understanding of others’ weaknesses. Now, with my new insights, I’m more tolerant when other people are also not immortal or perfect. I’d never felt before that I needed outside help with my projects, either. Do you now feel differently about Red Bull Stratos than you did before? My respect has increased. A couple of privateers, a BASE-jumper, a soft drink company and a few daredevils got involved in US Air Force and NASA business, what’s usually with the belief that in three, maximum five years, we could do something that took them decades to achieve [see Joe Kittinger profile overleaf]. But we were naive. We reckoned that we could buy a capsule, three balloons, a suit, and that I’d would just throw myself down and we’d write history. Wrong. It’s much bigger than that. We’re not competing against Ferrari or McLaren, and we’re not up against NASA or the air force. We’re practising science. We’re pioneers, constantly entering new territory. Our project is so huge and there are things happening on so many different levels, and each of them not only has to work individually but also in conjunction with all the other levels. When one cog breaks in a clock, the whole mechanism stops.
illustration: albert exergian
In My Beautiful (Huge) Balloon From cigar to beach ball. At launch, the balloon will be very thin, but 168m tall. As the external air pressure decreases on ascent, it changes to an almost spherical shape about 122m in diameter.
Like when the lawyers get involved… In December 2010 I’d stocked my toolbox, all the testing had gone well and the project could have taken off again. Then came the legal case. Problem solved, but the project halted and then: project ended! After receiving the call to tell me it was all off, I drove around aimlessly for four hours. Bruce Springsteen was playing on the radio, I remember. I’d been in boot camp for a month and now the war was over without a single shot being fired. Twice in quick succession, my feet had been yanked out from under me.
Speed in free fall
Expected Red Bull Stratos velocity: Mach 1, equivalent at altitude to 1,110kph Current record: Mach 0.9 equivalent at altitude to 988kph, set by Joe Kittinger, 1960
Height of free fall
Expected distance: 35,000m* Current record: 31,333m, Joe Kittinger, 1960
Time in free fall
Expected duration: 5 min 35sec Current record: 4min 36sec, Joe Kittinger, 1960
Highest manned balloon flight
Expected height: 36,576m Current record: 34,668m, Victor Prather and Malcolm Ross: May 4, 1961 * Felix Baumgartner will pull the ripcord about 1,500m above the ground
What did you do? I could have drowned in self-pity, but instead I threw myself into my second field of expertise, flying helicopters. I worked as a professional pilot, earning seven helicopter ratings, doing mountain training, and notching up hours and hours of flying time. And I never gave up on the project. I knew that someday I would swap my pilot’s overalls for the space suit again. How did everyone around you react to the hiatus? It was interesting how many people came out with their real opinion, even my mother, who said to me, “Actually we’re relieved you’re not jumping.” I told her she shouldn’t get used to the idea that Red Bull Stratos was dead. It was still clear to me that one day I’d float up, climb into the capsule and hurtle down to Earth, breaking the sound barrier on the way. Switching from professional pilot to ‘stratonaut’: how hard was that? Easy! I’d mentally stored the space suit away in a box, and now I’ve unpacked it again. Was there a positive aspect to the break? Definitely. It allowed us to restructure a couple of procedures and now there’s a different spirit. In the meantime we regularly reach our interim goals, which is very different from when we started. Obviously we still have fuck-ups, but we learn from them and put them into practice. To give you one example: during the first unmanned test flight it was important that the balloon took off no later than 7.30am, before the wind got up. The first time, the balloon company packed the balloon into the case incorrectly. Fixing it took 25 minutes, and when we eventually got airborne at 8am, the wind took our balloon. This giant, which had hovered for a couple of minutes, died right before our eyes. It’s not the big things that break the camel’s back, but the little things that no one thinks about. And that’s what can damage morale. Correct. I want a red rotating beacon in the command centre and as soon as I’m in my suit the light flashes. That means no more coffee drinking, no more texting. Safety comes from repetition – every elite unit drills its soldiers until every move can be done blindfold. Once the mission is under way, there are enough factors that can’t be influenced. We’re standing in the limelight here, with the world watching – there’s no room for error. When you think of the big day, what do you picture in your mind? Extreme discipline and perfection. When you know the camera is on you, you even clean your teeth differently. The pressure is huge and we have to not only endure it but excel. We’re entering a test and we’re excellently prepared. But it’s never going to be a fun day – I’m risking my life, after all.
As far as is possible, I’ll try to grasp the irrevocability of the moment, thinking, “I’ll never come back up here; I’ll never put on the suit again; never again will I climb into the capsule; we’ll never work this way as a team again.” There are examples where Olympic winners stand on the podium and feel disappointment. Because they had imagined this moment, for which they had trained so many years, to be more beautiful. I’ll try to avoid this feeling by enjoying the journey. What do you think you’ll be doing a year from now? Either I won’t be able to leave my house because I’ve disappointed everyone, or
Joseph Kittinger interview Albuquerque, USA
“I’ve spent 25 years turning my visions into reality. My career without this jump would be like a house without a door” because of the huge crowds outside. Both are possible. I’d like to celebrate Christmas 2012 with my team. Joe Kittinger is 83 years old and the average age of my team is 70. This is the family with whom I’ve spent the past five years and this family won’t be around much longer – you don’t have to be clairvoyant to realise this. I want to rent a house, where we put up a Christmas tree and Joe’s wife cooks a turkey. We hold hands around the table and thank God that our mission together went well and we’re all still alive. I would like that.
The way he wore: Joe Kittinger in his ‘space suit’ from 50 years ago Credit
And if not? Then it’s very likely I’ll have a problem. The end of a career without this jump would be like a house without a front door. I’ve been turning my ideas and visions into reality for 25 years and I really believe I’ll achieve my last great sporting goal.
Colonel Joe It was the warm-up before the space race: a US Air Force test pilot, a day in a locked box and the most giant leap in mankind’s history. Fifty years on, that jumper has hopped aboard the Red Bull Stratos project
Words: Herbert Völker
Somehow, an American colonel will always be a colonel, even when he’s more than 80 years old, long after the wiry body has eased into the comfort zone. It’s the mix of self-confidence and relaxedness, just as you would imagine you’d find in a robust fellow mellowing with age. Before long, you’ll even be allowed to call him Joe. Of the 10,000 things that have been said about him, one sticks out for not ringing true: “More guts than brains.” It comes from the shreds of a long-passed discussion that was only exploited later when Joseph Kittinger was already famous – you know how the media works. Joe, the officer and test pilot, put his hand up for a project and his boss said, “Approved. More guts than brains.” This is not a statement about Kittinger, but about the pioneering days of space travel when men took big risks and knew little of what might go on up there. Joe Kittinger, as mentioned, is mellow, and he won’t mind you saying it. Today, with a sense of unruffled certainty, he reckons he was the first person in outer space, before Yuri Gagarin, before Alan Shepard. Of course he knows that the discussion is still open – where does space begin? – but the conditions in the stratosphere would be ‘space equivalent’ when it comes to the survival of man. Upwards of 19km, the atmospheric pressure is so low that without a pressure suit the water in your blood would begin to boil. Joe Kittinger went much higher. You could call him a pre-astronaut. He would like that. Cold War, USA v USSR, mid-1950s. The United States military dismissed space travel as science fiction. NASA was non-existent and the US Air Force experimented at its own expense. A bunch of specialists simply wanted to understand how high you could go and whether you could
survive for a brief while up there. To get up there, it had to be a balloon. No plane would reach anywhere near that height. In 1957, in one of those balloons, Captain Joseph Kittinger ascended to just under 30km in the stratosphere and returned safely to Earth. America applauded him as the ‘First Space Man’, but more as a hero of an exotic expedition without larger meaning. Just six months later that image changed. The Russians sent their unmanned Sputnik satellite into orbit around the Earth, unleashing the matter of a “threat from outer space”, and heralding a halfway peaceful competition in space, but a competition, nonetheless. The USA threw billions into missile research and NASA was founded. In the few years between the Sputnik shock and NASA’s Mercury Project, the US Air Force continued testing technical and medical factors of space travel, while entertaining the threat from Russia in their hearts and minds. Under this pretext, Joe Kittinger’s next plunge, on August 16, 1960, became the most important milestone in the exploration of the stratosphere. Three of the records set back then still stand today half a century: Highest parachute jump: 31,333m. Fastest person in free fall: 988kph. Longest free fall: 4 minutes 36 seconds. These are still the targets for Felix Baumgartner. Higher, longer, faster – and the sound barrier, which Kittinger only just failed to break back then. It’s incredible that these records remain unbroken after more than 50 years. NASA and the Soviets continued with rockets, which they dubbed research (or conquest) of space, and reached altitudes that are only possible with missiles. Nevertheless, the stratosphere at the edge of outer space has always been of interest to Earthlings. The helium balloon is still the only means of
“I’d visualised the jump in my head a thousand times, so when the time came, I was ready for it” 15
Right: Joe Kittinger’s remarkable jump on August 19, 1960 set records yet to be broken. Red Bull Stratos is expected to exceed them – an event not possible without Joe’s work
hanging around up there for a while, unlike with a plane or missile. The temptation is there to set records with a glamorous sporty touch, but also with a scientific twist. The more projects that failed over the decades since Joe’s jump, the more his monolithic figure rose out of history and legends.
By the way, the surname Kittinger is pronounced with a hard ‘g’, not like the politician Henry Kissinger, a man much closer to his German forefathers, but who still chose to use the English pronunciation. Joe Kittinger’s great-great-grandfather was 14 years old at the time of his family’s emigration to America in 1783. The Kittingers came from the Zurich area in Switzerland, where they grew potatoes. They moved to the US state of Pennsylvania and did what they knew best. They became potato farmers, went forth and multiplied. Today, there are a good many Kittingers across all of the United States, but only one Joe who climbed out of a balloon’s gondola to flirt briefly with the speed of sound. There are many parallels between what Joe Kittinger experienced in 1960 and what awaits Felix Baumgartner now. The mental coaching is not one of them. Methods have become more sophisticated since Kittinger was locked inside a one-metre-square box for 24 hours to undergo a claustrophobia test. “It was like being in a coffin,” he remembers, “cramped and pitch black, but you can overcome claustrophobia with discipline. The fact that I wouldn’t be in the programme if I didn’t come out with a positive result was motivation enough for me.” Felix Baumgartner’s first pressure chamber test in a space suit was, in fact, more technically sophisticated, but for someone not used to having oxygen stuffed into him until it came out of his ears, the impact was comparable to what Kittinger went through. Kittinger and Baumgartner stem from different backgrounds and eras, but have a lot in common. Kittinger was a drilled balloon pilot, but his parachute training was only in situations of aircraft emergencies, where he’d tumble out like a sack of potatoes with a survival kit on his back. Felix has 3,000 jumps under his belt, he’s an acrobat of the air, but he had to learn a lot about balloons. As a fighter pilot, Kittinger was often at an altitude of 15km. Nothing works there without a pressure suit, which he donned like we do a pair of jeans – well, maybe with a little more care. He endured hundreds of stints in the pressure chamber. Before his famed leap, he had eight years worth of tailor-made suits behind him. Pressure suits are extremely stiff, every movement of the arm or leg is a major production in itself. For an extreme sports person like Baumgartner, such restrictions are unfamiliar. Before learning how to move in a new way, he first had to cope mentally with the pressure chamber and the space suit. Says Kittinger: “If you can’t get used to the pressure suit in every situation, you’re dead.” Ballooning is basically the same for both Kittinger and Baumgartner, but the latter’s balloon will have 16
“It was never about records back then. We went up to research an emergency escape at that altitude”
“Just before I jumped, I said, ‘Lord take care of me now.’ When my parachute opened, I sent up a very polite thank you to the same address”
photography: getty images (2), Christian Pondella/Red Bull Content Pool
almost 10 times the volume of Joe’s – that’s how much is needed to get the extra 5,000m in height. There is also a mutual concern. Aeronauts and astronauts call it ‘flat spinning’, which outside of their worlds is just called spinning. Nobody in the world knows more about it than Joe Kittinger. During one of his trial jumps, he experienced a rotational velocity of 200rpm, when 140rpm is regarded as fatal for a human. He was pushing the boundaries of newly discovered expertise, hit a glitch and experienced the total helplessness of going into a flat spin, propeller-like, bade life farewell, lost consciousness and came around again 20km lower, hanging from the hooks of his emergency chute. Spinning represents the greatest danger to stratosphere jumpers, despite all the advances in technology. Leaping into a vacuum means that the body doesn’t come up against any airflow or drag. Movements practised a thousand times by an athlete in peak condition literally fall into space. After the first 2km of his 1960 jump, Kittinger managed to release a small parachute for stabilisation. It didn’t slow him down, but it prevented him from spinning. His main chute opened 25km further down, in the thicker air. What can Joe tell us today about the edge of space? For instance: how should Earthlings imagine what the mood is like in the stratosphere? “There is a contrast between beauty and peril, a fine line between rapture and icy danger at 70 degrees below zero,” he says. “You can’t feel a vacuum, but still it’s there – eerie, hostile. You can see the Earth over a distance of 700km, the skies above are jet black, toward the horizon you glimpse every shade of blue.” Why does the sky appear to be black in the daytime? “The light up there
is not diffused, it only looks blue to us because of reflection. In a vacuum there is neither reflection nor light above you. You can’t even see the stars, your eyes are dazzled, which then makes your pupils contract.” At the highest point, you stayed with the balloon for at least nine minutes. Did you experience any form of high-altitude euphoria? Is there the danger of an uncontrolled adrenaline rush? “No. The hostility of space is perceptible at all times, and an overdose of oxygen doesn’t give you a feeling of euphoria. The eerie silence does the rest.” How lonely do you feel up there? “I was a test pilot and I was trained as one. I had visualised the jump a thousand times in my head, so when the time came, I was ready for it.” And the jump itself, the speed during free fall? How do you perceive a speed of 1,000kph? “You don’t perceive it, there is no wind that can whip past you. Initially there is only the sheer relief of not going into a spin, but after two minutes the clouds hurtle towards you and you have to tell yourself very persuasively that they’re only made of vapour.” What did you say on the way out of the gondola? “Just before I jumped I said, ‘Lord, take care of me now.’ And when my parachute opened I sent up a very polite thank you to the same address.” Will you feel a little bit melancholy when you see your own record erased? “No. It was never about records back then. We went up to research the possibilities of making an emergency escape at that altitude. So I never took much of an interest in documenting my achievements with a sporting authority, or anyone else for that matter.” Didn’t you ever have the overwhelming desire after that to fly to the moon? “When Project Mercury got under way, I did have the chance to put my hand up, but I didn’t, and I’ve never looked back and thought, ‘I wish I’d been a Mercury astronaut and flown to the moon.’ I was very happy with everything that I had accomplished.”
IN NEXT MONTH’s RED BULLETIN
The How In Part Two of our Red Bull Stratos story, Mission Director Art Thompson and his team of engineers explain the technology behind the adventure – the capsule, the comms and the survival systems.
One cannot say that Joe became lazy afterwards. As commander of an F4 Phantom fighter jet squadron, he flew in Vietnam, shot down a MIG, was shot down himself and spent a year as a prisoner of war in the infamous Hanoi Hilton prison. But he doesn’t talk much about that. In 1978 he retired from the United States Air Force, dedicated himself to ballooning and he was the first to set the world record for the longest and furthest solo balloon crossing of the Atlantic. “You don’t want to go stale when you retire,” he says. At 83, fit and alert and exuberant with expertise about thick and thin air, Colonel Joe will sit next to engineers and doctors at the command post when Felix Baumgartner sets out on his journey. They will be glad of his presence. www.redbullstratos.com
D u r ban , S o uth afr i c a
photography: tyrone Bradley/red Bull Content pool
The Moses Mabhida Stadium was built for football: the 80,000-capacity venue was where Spain suffered their only loss (v Switzerland) in winning the 2010 World Cup. But for trials biker Brian Capper, the action here is way above the turf. “There’s only one thing I wanted to do ever since they built it,” he says, “and that’s ride over it.” The 350m long, 2,600-tonne steel arch is 106m above ground at its highest point and offers unrivalled views over Durban and the Indian Ocean. Not that Capper was there to sightsee: “The brakes were smoking on the way down,” he says. “But it was worth it for the thrill.” See more amazing stunts like this: www.briancapper.co.za
b iar r it Z , fr an c E
ROCK ’n’ ROll
photography: VinCent perraud
When you’re the world champion in flatland BMX (think bicycle acrobatics on regular tarmac terrain), you can afford to be choosy about where you practise your craft. Frenchman Matthias Dandois goes the extra mile to find extraordinary places to perform his tricks. The 22-year-old headed for the Basque country and climbed down a cliff, bike on his back, to access this sea serpent of rock and concrete blocks stretching out into the Atlantic. Safe to say that he had the place to himself. This brilliant biker blogs at: www.matthiasdandois.com
au c KL an D, n E W Z E aL an D
giVe US A wAVe
In this frozen fraction of a second, as a 200kg boat meets the full force of a huge wave, off the north-east coast of the North Island, the fate of the crew is as yet undecided. However, come swell or high water, the five-strong Piha Women’s team know how to handle themselves. (It’s four ladies and a man in the ‘sweep’ position at the back of the boat, much like a women’s rowing team may have a male coxswain.) They’re ‘clubbies’: lifeguards who follow the century-old movement of surf lifesaving, a combination of sea-rescue activity and sporting battle. In addition to running, swimming and surfing challenges, the longboat rescue is popular with crowds thanks to its inherent drama. Thankfully, with a beach full of lifeguards, the chances of drowning are pretty slim. Enter their world: www.surflifesaving.org.nz
photography: phil Walter/getty iMages
Bullevard Sport and culture on the quick
Triple threat 24 years and 98 days: Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel is F1’s youngest ever double champion. FYI, and F-Seb’s-I, here are the three youngest ever three-time title-winners
AYRTON SENNA (31 YEARS, 213 DAYS) The Brazilian ensured his third and last championship victory with McLaren in Suzuka in 1991, after titles in 1988 and 1990.
MICHAEL SCHUMACHER (31 YEARS, 279 DAYS) It was 2000 when the German won the third of his record seven titles: his first for Ferrari, and the Italian team’s first since 1979.
SUPER-YEAR-O In 2012, men in tights are competing for box office glory In the golden age of US comic books, readers got ‘all in color for a dime’. Now, billion-dollar movie franchises are based on superhero strips. This year, there are four films with masked crimefighters, dastardly villains and vast merchandising spin-offs. This month, Nicolas Cage (see page 32) returns as Ghost Rider while in July, Andrew Garfield makes his debut as Peter Parker in The Amazing SpiderMan and Christian Bale is Batman for a third and final time in The Dark Knight Rises. In May, The Avengers teams three heroes – Captain America (Chris Evans), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) – who already have solo movies. But who lands the final battle’s killer blow? Smart money’s on RDJ.
Egos altered: Andrew Garfield is Spider-Man, Nicolas Cage is Ghost Rider and Robert Downey Jr is Iron Man
PICTURES OF THE MONTH
EVERY SHOT ON TARGET
JACKIE STEWART (34 YEARS, 90 DAYS) ‘Sir John’ had 27 wins in 99 F1 GPs. After his third championship in 1973 (one for Matra, two for Tyrrell) he retired from racing. www.redbullracing.com
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.
Rottnest Island Before Red Bull Lighthouse to Leighton kitesurf race in Perth, Australia – calm Ian Regnard
Three superstructures on the rise
HERE WE BRO! The Chemical Brothers go to the movies
Pingan International Finance Centre Shenzen, China High point: 660m World’s second tallest building coming in 2015 (Dubai’s Burj Khalifa is taller at 828m)
Endless winter: Rainer Hertrich
WORDS: FLORIAN OBKIRCHER, ROBIN TURNER, ANTONY BRUNO, ULRICH CORAZZA. PHOTOGRAPHY: GETTY IMAGES (2), IMAGO (5), MARVEL COMICS (4), MAURITIUS (1), COLUMBIA PICTURES (1), MARC PISCOTTY (1), EMI (3)
The man who skied for eight years solid Rainer Hertrich actually skied every day for eight years, two months and 10 days. In winter and in summer, while working two jobs (as a trail groomer at Copper Mountain Resort in Colorado, and at Timberline Ski Area in Oregon in the summer), and when there wasn’t enough snow, he’d travel to find it. He spent about US $10,000 a year to ensure he set the record for most vertical feet skied on consecutive days. He managed about 98 million vertical feet after 2,993 days, the equivalent of summiting Everest about 4,800 times. He was hoping to get to 100 million vertical feet, but a doctor diagnosed an irregular heartbeat, and told the 50-year-old he wouldn’t be putting his skis on in the morning. Up until that point, luck had been on Hertrich’s side. Since day one, November 1 2003, he had only six injuries – a separated shoulder and five bruised ribs. “The separated shoulder was the worst,” he says. “I skied for about three weeks without using a right ski pole.” Search for Watch Hertrich on www.youtube.com
Mercury City Tower Moscow, Russia High point: 380m Due to open late 2012; will be Europe’s highest
The Shard London, England High point: 310m Finished in May; European peak until Moscow’s up
Superstar DJs Ed Simons (l) & Tom Rowlands
What’s it like to see yourself? , : It was massively exciting to first see it. I remember thinking how brilliant it was when the camera moved out into the crowd. I’ve seen footage over the years that’s never quite captured us. It’s not a live Why film the show now? concert – nothing can beat that : We’ve always sense of being there – but if thought the live experience someone was going to get that was this magical thing that no feeling across it was Adam. one understood unless they And what about the music? went out and witnessed a gig. : Lots of live records are When this tour came together, recorded over a period of it was obvious we had to time, best bits plucked from capture it. It wasn’t promoting here and there. This was just an album: the band had free the one night. Bits sound raw, rein to play their ultimate bits clang together, but that’s party set. It’s musically the something I love. It’s alive. www.thechemicalbrothers.com best they’ve ever done. Alongside visuals collaborator Adam Smith, The Chemical Brothers have spent 18 years honing a live show that’s been described as “dance music in high definition”. New concert movie Don’t Think documents last year’s remarkable headline turn at Fuji Rock in Japan.
Don’t Think is the first concert film made with Dolby Surround 7.1 sound
WE HAVE A WINNER!
Lima Making a splash landing at Peru’s first Red Bull Flugtag, in front of 20,000 fans Renzo Giraldo
Istanbul One of the stars of the city’s Design Week – the Red Bull Art of Can exhibition Suat Erman
Guatemala City Weaving a little magic at retro skate contest Red Bull Blast From The Past Juan José Marroquín 25
B U L L E VA R D
Red Bull Crashed Ice World Championship
The gloves are on this month as the Red Bull Crashed Ice World Championship continues its sub-zero tour of Europe and North America. The contest – in which sets of four skaters go shoulder-to-shoulder on a punishingly steep, obstacle-laden ice track until all but one is eliminated – this year includes a British contingent for the first time. “It’s a mental contest,” says Adrian Jack, 34, from Hull. “It’s fast, adrenaline-fuelled and brutal.” He’s one of a three-strong team heading to Valkenburg, Holland, to compete against skaters from up to 30 other nations on a 575m-long ice run. “I’ve been training hard, and I’m going to do good,” says an unfazed Jack. “I’ve got my mind set, I’m ready for racing.” www.redbullcrashedice.com
Break with convention When a group of nuns and a gang of priests commandeer a freezing cold beach on an island off Ireland’s west coast for a game of five-a-side football, it can only be TedFest. This four-day homage to the classic TV comedy series Father Ted has transformed the Aran Island of Inishmore into the fictional Ted homeland Craggy Island each February since 2006. An enduring love for the show, which finished in 1998, unites a motley crew of 250 ‘Ted heads’ in apparent lunacy: fans from as far away as the US and Japan line up, dressed up (housekeeper Mrs Doyle’s is a favourite outfit), for events including the Lovely Girls competition, Ted’s Got Talent, the priests’ dance-off, and Craggy bingo, all fuelled by Father Jack levels of alcohol. As Ted would say: careful now. www.tedfest.org
Bangalore Winners at Red Bull Kart Fight
in India won a trip to Red Bull Racing’s UK F1 HQ Aditya Bedre
The Correspondents, course: Chucks (left) and Mr Bruce
CALL ME MISTER
Ian Bruce, more commonly known as Mr Bruce, is 50 per cent of highly styled and highly rated electro-swing MC/DJ team The Correspondents Moving on up My dancing’s knees-to-nipples stuff, very energetic. I learned to dance and MC in drum ’n’ bass clubs aged 15, and I scat too, which is useful. I can blather over any instrumental track. Keeping up with the Joneses My look is futuristic matador in monochrome spandex, created by designers who work with Grace Jones. The outfits come complete with little stretchy capes. Picture perfect I’m a trained artist specialising in portraiture. Performing gets rid of the show-off in me so I’m quiet in the studio. Suits you… We were the après-ski entertainment last year at The Brits, the British snowsports championships and music festival in Laax, Switzerland, which was great fun, but I’m no skier. I went up the mountain in a three-piece suit and a pair of brogues. www.thecorrespondents.co.uk The Brits Snow Festival 2012, March 18-25: www.the-brits.com
Angkor Wat Our Austrian sister mag makes for a little light reading on holiday in Cambodia Stefan Oberleitner
Mexico City At Red Bull Tirazo, South American soccer skills went from pitch to street Marcos Ferro
WORDS: RUTH MORGAN, PAUL WILSON. PHOTOGRAPHY: SEBASTIAN MARKO/RED BULL CONTENT POOL, TEDFEST, FRESHLY SQUEEZED
The Brits are coming
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ME & MY BODY
ALYSIA MONTAÑO The 25 year old has 800m national titles and a world bronze medal to her name and is packing middle-distance muscle, but she’s every bit the lady
BEST FOOT FORWAR D
I’ve only had only one major injury: in 2008, a stress fracture in my right foot. My bones were compacting and chiselling away at themselves. I didn’t know it was broken. I felt like such a baby complaining. In the Olympic trials that year, it gave out: I don’t remember the last 100m, I was in such excruciating pain. It’s a potentially careerending injury, but after using a bone stimulator for the best part of a year of recovery, I was back. My Olympic dream is back on, and I’m targeting London 2012.
PAIN IN THE BUTT To succeed in my sport, you need a balance between pushing yourself and breaking yourself. My right leg is slightly shorter than the left, and I feel it when I do explosive speed work. The top of my leg jams into my hip socket, so I visit a physio every couple of weeks to loosen it. If not, the joint gets inflamed and stiff, and tightens your glute, which tightens your piriformis – your butt cheek, basically – and can tighten major muscles in your back. If you don’t watch it, it can take a month to recover.
WORDS: RUTH MORGAN. PHOTOGRAPHY: DUSTIN SNIPES/RED BULL CONTENT POOL
MIN D GAM ES
Running is as mental as it is physical. You can physically be a beast, but if you don’t have the mind-set to talk yourself out of the door on a tough day, it won’t happen. You have to practise that, like running. I’m my biggest critic and I have to have my angel in there, beating up my demons. You talk yourself up, get your cockiness out. No one likes a cocky person, but you must give yourself a cocky air and know you’re the best.
DOW N TO BUS INE SS
I pretty much work a 9-to-5 day. Peop le forget that what I do is a full-time job. My train ing goes in cycles, but about four days a week I’m out the door at 7.30am, as I tend to have three work outs a day, two runs and a weight-training sessi on. It’s better to get started early so you’re not finish ing at 9pm. I start the year doing a lot of mileage, then add things in, like strengthening and sprin ts, the idea being to hit peak form come competitio n time.
CLU B ME D
I care about what I eat. We all have our moments of, ‘I’m going to eat what I like,’ but then I feel it. It’s like a car: put good fuel in, you get good results. I’m a pretty good cook – my husband says so, anyway. I love Mediterranean food, and I cook a mean chicken lemon pesto with garlic, with You’ve homemade hummus and pitta chips. it with serve I and , there in prote got carbs and ing of sautéed vegetables. People can gag think make to is t secre the but food, healthy hy. things that don’t look or taste too healt
PETAL POWER I always wear a flower in my hair. I grew up with a bunch of boys, playing a lot of sports. One day we were playing football and a guy made a spiteful comment about me playing, so I went and grabbed a flower, and put it in my hair, like, ‘Yeah, I’m a girl playing football, so what?’ He came down the field and I tackled him, complete with girlie flower. I’ve worn one every single day since, especially for sport. It’s important for people to realise you can be strong as well as feminine. www.alysiamontano.com
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Kanye West refers to her as “the future of music” – this New York rapper will be on everyone’s playlist this year Born 31 May 1991, Harlem, New York, USA Family Banks was raised by her mother. Her father died when she was two years old. She has two older sisters Prospects Late last year, Banks was placed on the shortlist for the BBC Sound of 2012 – a list which has featured high-profile names such as James Blake, Jessie J and Lady Gaga in recent years – when she was still unknown. Banks went on to claim third place
everyone from respected bloggers to fashion magazines is ready to hand the one-to-watchfor-2012 title to azealia banks. all this hype after just one song, mind you, which the 20-year-old musician uploaded to youtube a few months ago. a track of cheerful electro-house over which banks spits a mangy, slick rap, 212 is a the area-code referencing homage to her native new york and the first inkling of banks’s energy, brimming with selfconfidence and lacking censorship. it’s like nicky minaj, only cooler. “it’s a party track,” says banks. “i’m making fun of people who move to new york to become famous but don’t know anything about the city, of how people get sucked in and sidetracked.” does that apply to her too? “nah,” she says, breaking into a smile. “i know all about that. i was born there.” banks grew up in harlem. her mother sent her to a convent school and then to laguardia high school for the performing arts, which counts liza minnelli, al pacino and, yes, minaj among its illustrious alumni. “i always wanted to be on stage,” recalls banks. “it’s like if you’re a man, you have a penis. it’s the same thing for an artist. you either are one or you’re not.” she originally wanted to go into theatre but at 16 she discovered her love
of rap. inspired by missy elliott and lil’ kim, she began to write lyrics herself but never stuck to the formal hip-hop limits. “i’ve always been open to any kind of music,” she says. “i sampled indie band peter bjorn and John in one of my early songs.” banks is a prime example of the musical approach of her generation. thanks to youtube and the like, kids now have access to all sorts of music without any of the subculture baggage of days gone by. it was the rapper’s cover version of a song by Us indie-rock band interpol that first brought her media attention: a rock number which banks turned into a sensuous, modern r ‘n’ b ballad. “interpol and i had the same manager. that’s how i got to know their singer, paul banks,” she says. “i couldn’t get their song Slow Hands out of my head, which made me want to cover it.” she has an equally unceremonious approach to her release policy. although banks can already call fellow musicians like kanye west and mumford & sons fans, she has so far passed up long-term offers from record labels. and she’s preferred to work with underground electro artists like machinedrum and canadian red bull music academy graduate lunice. “i play by my own rules,” explains banks. “i’m all about having people listen to my music. if i end up making money from that, too, so much the better!” and the chances of her doing that look good. she’s about to go to london to record her debut album with paul epworth, who has produced for adele, cee lo green and primal scream. it’s quite clear that 2012 is going to be azealia banks’s big year. www.azealiabanksforever.com
words: florian obkircher. photography: matt barnes
Azealia Banks is peddling a unique blend of hip-hop, rap and R ‘n’ B
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Beyond the ordinary the Red BulletiN
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THAT THING SKI-DOO
From means of transport to freestyle sporting apparatus, from workhorse to racing machine: the snowmobile has boosted and altered winter travel for more than half a century. What hasn’t changed is the name on the side of the industry-leading model – the only thing its maker has ever really got wrong
Canadian inventor Joseph-Armand Bombardier planned to name his motorised dog-sled replacement ‘Ski-Dog’, but the typographic deficiencies of his livery painter changed everything: on the first prototype he turned the ‘g’ into an ‘o’, and so it 30
remained. Québécois hobbyists were attempting to make chain-driven snow vehicles as far back as the 1920s, but it was 1959 before Ski-Doos went into production. Solid wooden skis lead the way, a 7hp fourstroke engine under the metal apron powers
the chain. Modern models feature a thumb lever to control acceleration, rather than the throttle that was used back in the day. K60 died an honourable death after years of service, and today is only found in museums. www.snowmobilehalloffame.com
WORDS: WERNER JESSNER
COLD WARRIOR SKI-DOO K60, 1960
PHOTOGRAPHY: TODD MCLELLAN
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SLOPE STYLE SKI-DOO MX Z X-RS 800, 2012 The name of this sport trail sled is the first clue: the world of snowmobiles isn’t as simple as it once was. Now there’s a Ski-Doo tailored to every need. If you’re keen for hurtling through the forest and increasing your adrenalin levels, you’ll
want the MX Z X-RS 800 and its 800cc, 120hp Rotax two-cylinder engine with gasoline direct injection. Adjustable shocks made by top Japanese producer KYB ensure constant and comfortable contact with the ground, while the Cromoly chassis
guarantees stability even when the Ski-Doo is carrying light loads. Top speed of 160kph too much for you? No problem: instead of face planting, the MX Z X-RS driver can rely on high-quality Brembo racing brakes. www.ski-doo.com
b u l l e va r d
where’s your head at?
He’s been a leading man for 25 years, though some say he’s been leading audiences on with his impression of a man trying to act. He stars in Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance, out this month
tIme of nIC
swap “When we cast Nicolas Cag e in The Rock,” said mega-producer Jerry Bru ckheimer, “he seemed an unlikely choice for an act ion star.” Never a truer: in 1995, Cage had a Best Actor Oscar in one hand and a sign saying Quirky But Good in the other. Two years later, after The Rock, Con Air and Face/Off, he was a muscu lar presence in his own white vest and world box-office charts.
Nicolas Kim Coppola celebrated his 48th birthday on January 7. Yes, that’s right, Coppola, as in The Godfather and Apocalypse Now Francis Ford, filmmaker Sofia, actress Talia Shire (Rocky’s wife and Francis’s sister), actor Jason Schwartzman (of Rushmore and The Darjeeling Limited, Shire’s son). Nicolas’s father, a literature professor, was Francis’s elder brother.
He y, bI g sp en De r
s Despite being, or perhap ld’s wor the of one because he is, has had highest paid actors, Cage ities, hor aut tax US problems with the wallet. his n ope to s nes ing will and his iness According to his former bus ed manager, Cage once own the in nd isla an s, 15 residence hts. Bahamas, plus cars and yac ly ent rec e wer ties Several proper sold to allay his debts.
ea rly Days
Having changed his name to avoid accusations of nepo tism, three of Cage ’s first 10 speaking pa rts came in films directed by Uncle Fra ncis Ford: The Outsiders, Rumb le Fish and the excellent time-trav el comedy Peggy Sue Got Married. In 1987, the year he turned 23, he playe d two endearingly romantic fools, in Ra ising Arizona and Moonstruck. A caree r was in blossom.
all In Colou r for a DIme
If I Ca n Dr ea m
lor in twisted In 1990, Cage played Sai . It’s a fine turn, rt Hea At d Wil road movie his heroes, of clearly inspired by one er version sup a st lea t (no Elvis Presley nt, Cage poi one of Love Me Tender). At s, illac Cad g’s Kin The of owned one eymoon In and his 1992 movie Hon ersonators Vegas features Elvis imp rried Elvis’s and songs. In 2002, he ma d for file n the rie, Ma Lisa daughter s later. divorce from her 108 day
It bur ns
natIon al tre asu re
Tom Cruise, Robert Redford, Johnny Depp , Warren Beatty, Leonardo DiCaprio and Cary Grant all have something Nicolas Cage does not: a space in their trophy cabinet wher e the Oscar for Best Actor can go. Cage filled in his thanks to his portrayal of a writer tryin g to drink himself to death in Leaving Las Vegas . Beware: the film is even bleaker than you’re think ing now.
work work work Cage is accused of quantity over quality, but a man has to eat, and so do his lawyers. Is he really Hollywood’s busiest man? Since 2000, he’s starred in 25 films, with one cameo, and lent his voice to four others. Matt Damon has racked up 30, with five cameos and five voice turns. Matt gets props, Nic’s accused of being one. No justice.
There is only one trailer in the history of cinema that shows a small boy asking a man, “What if you have to pee when you’re on fire?” followed by that man, on fire, peeing fire. The film is the flamebuoyantly OTT Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance, in which Cage plays the dark, combustible title character for a seco nd time, after 2007’s Ghost Rider. It is out in cinemas worldwide this month.
Nic’s new flick: www.thespiritofvengeance.com
WORdS: Paul WilSOn. illuStRatiOn: lie-inS and tiGeRS
Nicolas Cage loves comic books. His stage name is Cage, for Luke Cage, a Marvel Comics superhero. He named his son Kal-El, which is the Kryptonian name of Clark Kent, aka Superman. In 2000, his copy of the first-ever Superman comic was stolen. In April 2011, it was found in a storage locker and returned to him. Seven months later, it sold at auction for US$2.1m, 14 times what Cage paid for it in 1997.
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HARD & FAST
WORDS: FLORIAN OBKIRCHER. PHOTOGRAPHY: FILTHYLUKER/WWW.FILTHYLUKER.COM (1), GETTY IMAGES (2), ACTION IMAGES (1). ILLUSTRATION: DIETMAR KAINRATH
Top performers and winning ways from around the globe
Stare well: tree eyes by Filthy Luker have appeared all over the world, including Italy
THE EYES HAVE IT
Filthy Luker’s supersized art makes us all characters in a comic book world
Katherine Reutter led Team USA to second at short track speed skating’s world cup in Shanghai, with solo 1000m gold and 1500m silver, and 3000m relay silver.
In the 1990s, artists Filthy Luker and Pedro Estrellas were making abstract, air-filled sculptures for clubs and festivals like Burning Man and Glastonbury. The inflatables were tested in a park near their workplace, which led to a lot of surprised glances. Then Filthy Luker began making art for urban surroundings: dancing traffic cones, monster tentacles on buildings, big eyeballs in trees.
With victory at the Dubai Masters, Alexis Thompson (USA) became the youngest pro winnner on the Ladies European Tour, aged just 16 years, 311 days.
: Is the world too grey? : Sometimes, yeah. There’s room for improvement. I’m always looking for opportunities to create interaction. The important thing is that the landscape we’re used to is changed. Where do you get the inspiration for your supersized objects? Aged five, I went to Universal Studios in America and that had a big impression on me. They had giant telephones and cars that were very lightweight. Even a little kid could pick them up. I like to make people rethink their place in the world. How do you pick the abandoned buildings you use as sites? Since 9/11 it’s not been so cool to run around in empty buildings with backpacks and batteries. I find ones with semi-legal access. Electricity supply’s not an issue: the fans run on a 12-volt battery. Your work is made from nylon. Where did you learn to sew? I got thrown out of my woodwork class on the first day in school for drawing my name on the desk and they made me do textiles. But that was good, because I got to hang out with all the girls.
Brazilian soccer tyro Neymar won FIFA’s Puskás Award for the best goal of 2011 – a truly sensational run and strike – beating Wayne Rooney and Lionel Messi in an online vote.
Filthy Luker: Artist In Residence is in Bristol until March 4: www.rwa.org.uk
B U L L E VA R D
Why do snowboarders seem to be able to float on fresh snow? A ’boarder and a boffin tell all
THE EQUATION “It’s no surprise snowboarders equate riding deep powder to gliding,” says Professor Thomas Schrefl of the University of Applied Sciences in St Pölten and the University of Sheffield. “Indeed, it’s the air between the snow crystals that contributes substantially to support the weight of the snowboarder. However, you have to maintain a steady high speed to carry on moving across the snow. “The key for the development of an ‘air cushion’ is the short contact time between the board and the snow. Let’s assume that the snowboarder has a velocity of 15m per second on a board of length L = 1.5m. Contact time between board and snow, t = L/v, here gives us 0.1 seconds only. “During this time, the snow is compressed by the weight of the board and the snowboarder and, as a consequence, the pressure of the air in the snow is increased, resulting in an upward force, F, when the air is trapped below the board for a short time. Experiments show that it takes about 0.5 seconds for the air to be pushed out from the snow. When the contact time is shorter, the air pressure remains high and can contribute up to 50 per cent of the total lift force. Three factors influence the strength of the lift force: the consistency of the snow, the aspect ratio of the board (the ratio of its width to its length) and something we can term ‘compression ratio’. “Firstly, for consistency of snow, we can apply h²/K, where h is the thickness of the layer of powder, and K is a measure of its permeability. The latter depends on the density, , and the diameter, D, of the snow crystals. “Secondly, from the equations we see that snow with smaller crystals has a higher lift force. The wider the board, the longer it takes for the air to be pushed out, therefore lift force increases with the square of the aspect ratio, W/L. “Thirdly, lift force increases with the ratio of the compaction, h2/h1, where h1 is the layer thickness at the trailing edge, and h2 is the layer thickness at the leading edge.” You can follow Marie-France Roy down the slopes at: twitter.com/mariefranceroy
WORDS: RUTH MORGAN, THOMAS SCHREFL. PHOTOGRAPHY: TONY HARRINGTON/RED BULL CONTENT POOL. ILLUSTRATION: MANDY FISCHER
THE ELATION “Riding through powder is like surfing,” says Canadian professional snowboarder Marie-France Roy. “You glide through, carve your way down. Speed is key, so the steeper the face, the easier it is to get through the snow, as gravity gives you a helpful pull. It’s a learning process; you get a feel for it. People who have never ridden in powder get stuck all day long at first, mainly because they don’t put their weight on their back foot. Even if you have speed, with your weight centred on the board the nose is going to dig under and get you stuck. With the weight on your tail, the nose will stay just above the snow and you’ll glide. It’s one of the best aspects of snowboarding, by far.”
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Powder buff: snowboard pro Marie-France Roy knows how to angle her board for speed
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Which of these is true: a) Diana Ross is yet to win a Grammy b) Andy Williams is not as smooth as you think c) a Grammy is made of grammium? Answers below!
Georg Solti leads the all-time Grammy record table with 31 wins. The Anglo-Hungarian conductor received his first award at the first-ever ceremony in 1959 and his last, in 1996, was a lifetime achievement gong. After Solti comes Quincy Jones and Alison Krauss, with 27 and 26 Grammys respectively. Classical pianist Vladimir Horowitz and French composer Pierre Boulez have 25 each, and joint fifth, alongside U2 with 22, is Stevie Wonder. In 1977, Wonder appeared at the Grammys via satellite from Nigeria. Presenter Andy Williams asked, “Stevie, can you see us now?” Oh, Andy!
Diana Ross, Queen, Bob Marley, The Kinks: just some of the major artists and bands never to have won a Grammy. But only one group has ever had to give theirs back: Milli Vanilli. They won the award for Best New Artist of 1989, but in November 1990 it was revealed that the German duo couldn’t sing at all and were just lip-synching to other vocals. Milli Vanilli didn’t just have their prize revoked; a US court ruled that everyone who bought their albums should receive compensation.
At the first Grammys in 1959, awards were made in 22 categories. Last year, it was 109, from Best Polka Album to Best Radio Drama. The Recording Academy decided that was too many and cut the list down to 78 categories. Carlos Santana is not happy: “You can’t eliminate black gospel or Hawaiian music or American Indian music or Latin jazz music, because all this music represents what [the] United States is: a social experiment.” FYI: his 1999 album Supernatural won a record nine Grammys. Milli Vanilli
John Billings, of Ridgway, Colorado, is known as The Grammy Man. The 63-year-old has been making the Grammy trophies by hand in his workshop for over 30 years. Billings takes 15 hours to make each gramophoneshaped award; casting the zinc alloy he calls grammium, gold plating it and engraving it. Every year he delivers the awards, weighing 1.92kg each, to Los Angeles, but only after the awards ceremony, once the winners have been declared. Dummy trophies are used at the show.
Heavy metal bands have blitzed concert halls and sales charts since the late 1960s, but the Grammy for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance was only introduced in 1989. Metallica seemed assured of victory for their now classic album …And Justice For All, but old flute-playing rockers Jethro Tull won instead for their album Crest Of A Knave. The announcement received barely polite applause and boos; Tull, perhaps thinking the same as everyone else, weren’t at the ceremony. Metallica have since won nine Grammys.
The 54th Grammy Awards, February 12, Staples Center, Los Angeles, California: www.grammy.com
WORDS: FLORIAN OBKIRCHER. PHOTOGRAPHY: PICTUREDESK.COM (1), CORBIS (4), GETTY IMAGES (1)
The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences in the USA has been honouring its members in Oscars-like fashion since 1959 (30 years after the first Oscars). The trophy was to be an Eddie, in honour of Thomas Edison, but it was named the Gramophone Award, shortened to Grammy. The first ceremony was held in Los Angeles on May 4 in 1959, and in 1971 the awards were shown live on US TV for the first time. In 2011, 26.6 million viewers tuned in – the most in a decade.
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the hole truth In New York City, the Sandhogs dig out the networks without which it could not exist. One woman has spent years documenting their dirty, difficult and at times deadly work Words: Paul Wilson Photography: Gina LeVay 38
What lies beneath Kenneth Schnell at the bottom of a shaft, at a shaft-to-tunnel transition of the Manhattan Section of New York City Water Tunnel No. 3, June 2008. Says photographer Gina LeVay: â€œI enjoyed a seven-year collaboration with these men. It was extraordinary.â€?
o take pictures of New York’s Sandhogs, the underground workforce mining the city’s tunnels, Gina LeVay turned up without her camera. “The first few times I just wanted to explain what I was intending to do,” she says. “And they would say, ‘But news photographers just go down one time, take a picture and leave.” During the four months it took for LeVay to get the permits and permissions for trips into the tunnel – the Manhattan section of NYC’s Water Tunnel No.3, part of a $6bn, 95km construction connecting the city to its upstate water supply – she gradually won the respect of the Sandhogs at their surface work site. At the end of December 2003, she made the downward journey for the first time. What she set out to find was a subject for her MFA thesis; what she got was a seven-year collaboration. “From 2003 to 2006, I went down there a couple of times a month, for two-four hours at a time.” There was a large installation of LeVay’s work at Grand Central Station (“I wanted people in their everyday traffic to stop and realise more how things are interconnected, to see the body of the city in multiple layers”) and also a book, Sandhogs. “They respected my ideas and work ethic, and really valued the fact that I was determined, because they are too.”
below and above Jason McCormick and Eammon Greenan, jackleg drilling into bedrock of north tunnel, October 2005. Facing page, from top: Pete Reynolds, Safety Chief, walking to the cage lift at dawn, September 2004. John Wademan, third generation hog, at the door of a concreting form, September 2007
heavy price to pay Andy Hickey and Jim and Eammon Oâ€™Donnell hoist a 20-tonne locomotive to the surface, December 2006. Sandhogsâ€™ work is hard and not without danger. Ground was struck on New York City Water Tunnel No. 3 in 1970, and it will not be completed until 2020. To date, 23 construction workers have died on the project
on- and off-site Clockwise from top left: Neil Hickey, Patrick Donovan, Mickey Jiminez, Joe Picozzi; Hickey and Jiminez in the studio, the others in situ. “I had an idea for the Sandhogs to emerge from the tunnel and come straight to a studio after a shift,” says Gina LaVey, “so I could capture the details of the muck and their clothes. I thought I’d get maybe five, but there were 30 waiting for me. So I was walking through Manhattan with 30 dirty Sandhogs, and I called my assistant at the studio and said: “Listen, we’re going to need a whole lot more beer.” 43
the unforgiving Lower and upper tunnel, Croton Filtration Plant, Van Cortlandt Park, Bronx, October 2008. “There are 80 different ways, every 5ft, to get either killed, squished, or ripped apart,” says Sandhog Kevin Tucker. “It’s dangerous and you will get hurt. You have to have eyes in the back of your head.” 45
depth charge Left: Neil Hickey and Ralph Huggler wiring fully loaded rock face for blast, January 2007. Above: Looking up the shaft from 245m underground, November 2006. Facing page, clockwise from top left: Brian Thorne, Kerwin A Antoine, John Hammer, Dennis O’Neill Legend has it that when Moses parted the Red Sea, there were a couple of Sandhogs there. The Sandhogs who worked on the Manhattan section of Water Tunnel No. 3 (which is now complete; its auxiliary power and other cables and piping are due to be ready next year, and the entire project is scheduled to be up and running in 2020) are now working on the East Side Access project. By 2016, it will bring the Long Island Rail Road into a new concourse being built underneath Grand Central Station. After a two-year gap, Gina LaVey is back photographing them. “This job is perhaps even more challenging for the Sandhogs,” she says, “because they have to mine underneath the skyscrapers: they’re working around every grid under New York City.” www.ginalevay.com
SCOT Aged 27, gerarD BUtLer had never acted and was bottoming out at the bottom of a bottle. Now he’s a ﬁxture on Hollywood’s A-list, be it action, romcom, animation or Shakespeare. He’s also a leading man in the gossip columns. Time for the truth to out
“Without a doubt the coolest, most exhilarating, most brilliant thing i have ever done was play for Celtic, in a match for their charity fund against manchester United last summer”, says gerard Butler. “there i was on the Celtic park pitch, in the green-and-white hoops, playing with [former Celtic striker] henrik Larsson and [current Celtic manager] Neil Lennon tackling the likes of roy Keane, teddy sheringham and Dwight yorke. it’s the highlight of my whole career so far.” this from the man currently the most bankable British actor in hollywood, who, for his forthcoming movie, Playing The Field, locks lips with Catherine Zeta-Jones, Jessica Biel and Uma thurman, but then the 42 year-old scot isn’t the man you think he is. For starters, during that football match in glasgow in august 2011, a star-studded testimonial match for former Celtic defender John Kennedy, Butler played the first two-thirds of the match, and absolutely looked the part alongside the former professionals and soccer-loving celebs. he exited the pitch to a standing ovation. “Luckily, for the last movie i’d shot, Playing The Field, i played a soccer-player-turned-school-coach who gets involved with his players’ mums,” says Butler, looking match-fit in a suite at the soho hotel, London. “so i got in shape: played a lot of soccer, did a lot of surfing, hiking, running and cycling, and i was ready for the game, which was very handy indeed because i’ve supported Celtic all my life.” Dressed in a black polo shirt, combat trousers and big, black army-style boots, his tousled curly, slightly greying hair is shoulder length and matches a scruffy 48
beard. he is jovial, refreshingly open, totally self-effacing, and very, very funny. it’s not quite the uniform or the demeanour of an actor whose box-office hit-rate is currently higher than oscarwinner Colin Firth and Daniel Craig, whose record beyond Bond is patchy at best. there are rumours of Butler, now based where the work is, in Los angeles, commanding eight-figure salaries. yet he remains down-to-earth despite hollywood and all its foibles. “Well, we scots are very grounded, and have good manners, and if i start getting too big for my boots, there’s plenty of friends and family in scotland who’ll sort me out,” he says, with a smile. “i love what i do and think i’m pretty good at it, so i have nothing to prove, i don’t have a chip on my shoulder and don’t need to put on any airs and graces. But all in all, i think it’s just part of being scottish, because you can’t get carried away with any of that conceited ego rubbish up there because it don’t bloody work!” at this he takes a swig of water and has a good chuckle, his shoulders bobbing like fishing floats. “a good example for you. i saw an old pal of mine in glasgow recently, and he’d had quite a skinful and had hardly a leg under him. so he gives me a hug and says, ‘you know gerry, through all the success and the fame and the adulation, you’re still the same as you always were.’ so there was i was thinking, ‘Wow that was nice of him,’ and then he said, ‘aye big man, you’re still a total dickhead!’ Brilliant! you don’t get much of that in La.” of late, Butler has had to pull up every inch of his Caledonian resilience for the film Machine Gun Preacher. Directed by marc Foster, responsible
photography: JeFF Vespa/CoNtoUr By getty images
Words: Chris Sullivan
“I’m having the time of my life, but there isn’t a single rumour about me that’s true”
“I went from a 16-year-old grasping life to a 22-year-old who didn’t care if he died” for Quantum Of Solace and the forthcoming zombie action film World War Z with Brad pitt, partly shot in glasgow, Butler delivers his finest performance to date in a film based on a memoir written by sam Childers. Butler plays Childers, a former drug addict and motorcycle gang member who was born again and became a preacher after he was almost killed in a gun battle. Childers ends up working as a missionary in what is now south sudan, helping civil war victims and witnessing atrocities carried out by the self-proclaimed messianic mystic Joseph Kony and his renegade Lord’s resistance army (Lra). the Lra roams the bush, massacring adults and kidnapping their orphaned kids for use as soldiers or sex slaves – some 66,000 children are said to have suffered this fate. Childers builds an orphanage and fights fire with fire, ambushing the Lra in armed raids to rescue the children. a milestone role for Butler, and one which led him to empathise greatly with the gun-toting clergyman. “in the course of my research i had to watch videos, like one of a six-month-old baby being hacked to death still hanging on his mother’s back in a knapsack,” he says, coughing awkwardly as his eyes well up with tears. “there is no political agenda with these bastards: it is all about killing and hacking people to bits with machetes. so bloody scary. you can understand wanting to go and kill every last one of those murderers, but then you realise that a lot of those doing the worst of the killing are the very kids who have been kidnapped, indoctrinated and turned into monsters by the Lra. some of them are as young as nine. Just kids man… it’s heartbreaking.” the film begins with a scene of a young boy forced to kill his own mother. Foul and incredible as it might appear, this is a common ploy of the Lra as, once the child commits this unthinkable act of violence, he has nowhere to go both physically and emotionally and thus any subsequent horrors he might commit in future pale in comparison. Butler found this difficult to comprehend. “Confused and ashamed, the boy’s only family becomes the bastards who made him do it, who’ve condoned the act and keep his secret,” says Butler. “it is sick. there are no rules over there. it really is off the hook. it was hard for me to grasp the reality of this situation. i don’t think there is a situation like this anywhere in the world. it is very different from everywhere else. these people kill for killing’s sake.” once Butler got his head around this appalling actuality, he then had to portray Childers having spent time with the man himself, in his dual roles as the film’s star and one of its executive producers. rendering a living, breathing character – one as dynamic as Childers – is no stroll in the park. 50
“i spent a month with sam on the road with this movie and he’s as tough as they come,” says Butler. “sam Childers was a lost soul – a biker, a junkie, a shotgun-toting criminal – but when i first read the script, i thought, ‘this can’t be true. No way.’ But as i later discovered, we’ve only scratched the surface with the film. there’s this multi-layered psychosis going on inside sam. he’s a raging contradiction who wasn’t that convinced about being portrayed in a film. he was both suspicious and a little impressed that hollywood would make this film about him. so i wasn’t sure if i could do it, because i knew it would be mentally gruelling, really hard work, but they are the roles i prefer.” No stranger to hard graft, Butler was born on November 13 1969, in paisley, an outer suburb 20km west of glasgow. his father edward was a bookmaker and something of a wide boy; his mother margaret was a housewife. When Butler was six months old, the family, including older brother Brian and older sister Lynn, moved to montreal, Canada, whereupon his parents’ marriage fell apart. margaret returned to scotland with the children. “my mother was everything to me,” says Butler, “because she was both my mum and my dad and gave us everything she had in every way. i wouldn’t be here talking to you if it wasn’t for her.” Butler went on to excel at school, becoming head boy at his high school in paisley. in 1985, after 14 years absent, Butler’s father returned and the pair made up for lost time. six years later, when Butler graduated with a law degree from glasgow University, his father died from cancer. Butler upped and left for the Us on a 12-month mission defined only by its rampant hedonism: “i had gone from a 16-year-old who couldn’t wait to grasp life, to a 22-year-old who didn’t care if he died in his sleep.” he returned to scotland and took up a position as a trainee civil lawyer in an edinburgh law firm, but was soon making more of an impression with his antics as a party animal. Just seven days before he was due to qualify as a lawyer, he was given the sack. “i used to drink until i couldn’t remember anything,” he recalls. “i was just mad for it and on a death wish. it was madness. and then i blew it with the job. i was totally destroyed.” Butler’s answer to this problem was to move to London, where he rekindled an old flame who had become a casting director. she got him an audition in a production of shakespeare’s Coriolanus, directed by steven Berkoff, and he got the part. he was 27. “i hadn’t had any training as an actor but had lived a life and experienced a lot emotionally and otherwise,” he says. “Which can be just as valuable. it certainly didn’t do sean Connery any harm.”
HIGHLAND FLYERS Five Scots at Hollywood’s top table with Gerard Butler
Only 14 months younger than Butler, but with a further decade of experience as a leading man, McGregor is entering the middle phase of a glittering career that began so spectacularly with Trainspotting in 1996. Has four films on the slate for 2012, including Haywire and The Impossible
Big splash debut in Trainspotting (see above), then 10 years as ‘Oh look, the girl from Trainspotting’ until a top turn in No Country For Old Men in 2007 reminded all how good she is. Currently starring in HBO’s Boardwalk Empire; is lead voice in Brave, the new Pixar film, out in June
Directed The Last King Of Scotland, The Eagle and Touching The Void. Won Oscar for Munich Olympics doc One Day In September. Grandad was Brit film legend Emeric Pressburger
David Letterman has Late Show; this one-time actor and comic has followed it with The Late Late Show for seven years, during which time all Hollywood’s finest have pulled up a pew
photography: getty images
Who he? Well, with 11 technical Oscars, for designing film and video camera lenses, only Walt Disney and production designer Cedric Gibbons have more Academy Awards than Professor Neil
then, in the same way Connery did, Butler moved from the theatre into small parts in films and television, but he needed more. in 2001, after five years of acting, he bit the bullet, moved to Los angeles and put a stop to his hard-living ways. “one or two drinks was never enough for me. i was a foot-on-the-floor-all-the-way drinker, so it had to go. i don’t miss it. Now it’s as if i never had a drink in my life. at one point, i could never have conceived going out and not drinking but, as time goes on, you lose the urge and the insecurity that often makes people drink in the first place.” minus the booze, things started looking up career-wise. a role as attila the hun in a tV miniseries was followed by the romantic lead alongside angelina Jolie in Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life in 2003. the following year he starred in the British film Dear Frankie, alongside emily mortimer, and in Joel schumacher’s version of The Phantom Of The Opera, having beaten Nicolas Cage and John travolta to the ghostly title role. But it wasn’t until 2007, when he appeared as King Leonidas of sparta in the hit action movie 300, his face and abs straining on the film’s poster, that he became a leading man of choice in hollywood. “a good analogy that i always use is that up until then, i was like this train that was chugging very slowly to the top of a big hill,” says Butler. “But as soon as i did 300, i was over that hill and my career gained its own impetus.” For the crime film RocknRolla (2008), director guy ritchie cast Butler in the lead as one two, a charismatic wide boy villain who desperately wants to be a businessman. “this was one part i knew i could do,” he says, perhaps referring to his own career turnaround and his father’s liveby-your-wits outlook. “i knew this man inside out.” Undeniably, Butler occupies one of the oldest positions in hollywood – the hard man with the soft centre – but with him it seems to be no act. he is part proper man who takes no crap, and part introspective soul-searcher looking for the greater good in himself and others, morally and creatively. accordingly he has flexed other actorly muscles apart from his biceps (and his vocal cords in Phantom). he has notched up several romcoms, such as PS I Love You, opposite double oscar-winner, hilary swank, The Ugly Truth alongside Katherine heigl and The Bounty Hunter with Jennifer aniston. “you have to have a go, don’t you?” he says. “Nothing ventured, and all that. i could have stuck with being mr action guy. But i did a kids’ movie, Nim’s Island, then a bunch of romantic comedies and Law Abiding Citizen, a taut thriller about a serial killer, with Jamie Foxx. the way i was thinking was,
‘oK, i’m doing pretty well in action movies, so let me see how high i can go in drama or romantic comedy.’” Last December, his latest action role almost proved his undoing. Filming surf movie Of Men And Mavericks in California, he was pulled under the water by two 30ft waves. the leash attaching him to his surfboard broke and he struggled beneath the surface for about a minute. “they couldn’t get to me,” he later told a UK tV chat show, visibly moved. “i was in a very dangerous position.” it’s a far cry from his usual worries, such as which famous beauty, be it aniston, Cameron Diaz, Naomi Campbell and model sarah Carroll, the gossip columns will put him together with. “i am a single successful scottish actor in a city full of beautiful women,” he says, with a grin. “and i will admit to having the time of my life, but i would say, though, that there literally hasn’t been a single rumour about me in the past three years that was true. i’m very well behaved these days as a lot of the naughty stuff was when i was drinking.” to be in demand professionally as well as personally is no bad thing. so, gerard Butler, how does it feel to be hollywood’s hottest British actor? “Well,” he says, after a laugh, “i’m not sure if i am, but – and this is the lawyer in me talking – for the sake of argument, let’s just suppose for one moment that it is the case and if so i’d say it feels pretty bloody wonderful. to be honest, it’s the actual work i find really rewarding and i feel really blessed to be able to do it. all i want now is to be very good at my job.” With his most recent big screen role, Butler’s career comes full circle. he stars alongside ralph Fiennes in Coriolanus, Fiennes’ directorial debut and a modernisation of the play in which Butler got his lucky break as an actor. “Coriolanus was my first professional gig, but i only had about six or seven lines. Cut to a few years later, there’s a script on my desk and my agent says that ralph’s called a bunch of times and really wants me for this role. i just thought, ‘oh my god.’ Coming back to do the movie as tullus aufidius, arch-enemy of Coriolanus, was huge for me. “Before we shot it, i did a voice-over for How To Train Your Dragon, which could not have been more different. every time i do a film, i say i don’t know if i can do it, but i seem to do it anyway because i have to keep challenging myself. you see, i’ve experienced quite a lot of life before i was an actor, and i’ve experienced a lot of life as an actor. to me it’s a job and, like anyone else in any other job, i have to keep testing and pushing myself to make it interesting.” Coriolanus is on general release now. Playing The Field is released in cinemas later this spring. Machine Gun Preacher is released on DVD in March. www.machinegunpreacher.org
A bunch of women going street racing in Palestine shatters a million cultural mores. But convention be damned â€“ these self-styled Speed Sisters are doing it for themselves Words: Ruth Morgan Photography: Taz Darling 53
he quiet of a Saturday night in Bethlehem, Palestine, is broken at 10 to midnight by the screech of wheels on tarmac. Betty Saadeh is speeding past the ancient Church of the Nativity in her red Golf GTI, perfectly manicured nails tipped with silver glitter gripping the wheel, a pair of 6in heels at the pedals. She’s wearing a figure-hugging black dress and has spent the afternoon in the salon having extensions added to her blonde hair: tonight she’s celebrating. The 32-year-old Christian mother of two became – officially – the fastest woman on the West Bank yesterday when she won the women’s championship in Palestine’s speed test series, driving the same Golf she’s now parking up in the city centre. It, too, has undergone a transformation. This morning it was still a shell, metal innards exposed as the interior was stripped of all but its bucket racing seat. But Betty’s mechanic, Maher, restored it to normality this afternoon and now the only signs of yesterday’s action are the remains of the racing stickers that covered the exterior. One on the passenger window displays, in large orange letters, the name of Palestine’s first and only female race team: the Speed Sisters. Betty’s with team-mate Noor Daoud, a striking, sports-obsessed 22-year-old who drives a blackedout BMW, and as the pair enter a nightclub in the basement of the grand Jacir Palace Hotel they turn heads. “Did you see the article in the paper today?” Betty shouts over her shoulder to Noor, her words almost lost to the US hiphop blaring from the speakers. “It said, ‘Betty: Queen of cars!’ My mechanic told me the guys were all watching my laps asking, ‘Did she beat us? Did she beat us?’” “You beat so many guys!” Noor shouts back with a grin as she signals to the barman. The women are two members of a six-strong team changing the 54
face of motorsport in traditionally conservative Palestine. They compete on an equal level with men at races held around the West Bank, in front of thousands, shredding stereotypes in their tyre tracks. With both Christian and Muslim members and an age range of 20 to 35, the Speed Sisters are a group of women united by a hunger to race. In the land-locked Palestinian territories where space is at a premium and there’s an absence of long stretches of checkpoint-free road, racers have to find suitable areas where they can – a disused helipad in Bethlehem, a closed marketplace in Jenin – to compete in speed tests on obstacle courses. But as Noor and Betty take to the dancefloor, drinks in jewelleryclad hands, there’s no hint of the world of oil, sweat and blisters they occupied only yesterday. At dusk on Thursday in the ancient eastern town of Jericho, the roar of engines and metallic stench of petrol filter down towards the town centre from a hilltop car park that’s become a temporary home for Palestine’s community of racers. It’s the evening before the final race of the season, and all the 55 cars taking part need to be checked and registered. Groups of men stand chatting and smoking, grunting appreciatively at an array of makes and models, since any is eligible to compete, enjoying the opportunity to exchange stories and check out the competition. The Jericho Cable Car next door links the town to biblical site The Mount of Temptation, and drivers of tour buses use their horns to negotiate an exit with the queue of race cars still trying to get in. Bemused bus-trippers look on, powerless. Betty and Noor enter the melee, dressed in jeans and trainers, their hair tied back, giving two kisses of welcome to some of the male racers as they make their way to the makeshift registration office accompanied by Betty’s family. She comes from good racing stock. Her brother George is the speed test champion of 2009 and will also be competing tomorrow. Their father Jalil is a former rally champion in his native Mexico. It put Betty in the unusual position of being persuaded by her parents to race. “I used to
NEED FOR SPEED Main picture: Betty works as an administration assistant at the Mexican Mission in the city of Ramallah, where she lives in a flat she shares with two other female professionals. But her weekends belong to motorsport. She has a growing number of fans who travel to speed tests to watch her race. “When I go on they cheer,” she says. “It’s fun, it’s a nice feeling. We get a lot of support – almost more than the boys.” Bottom right: Speed Sister Noor Daoud tops up the water levels in the overheating engine of her black BMW at the final race of the season in Jericho, as motorsport fans look on
say, ‘But Mum, it’s all boys!’” she laughs. “But when I tried it, I discovered this adrenalin inside me like my father and brother. Back then, there were just three girls racing and at first even some of the guys I’m greeting now used to laugh at us. Then when we started beating them they got mad, but now it’s better as they are used to us. Most tell me, ‘Mahbrook!’ Congratulations!” But not all Speed Sisters have found it so easy. Marah Zahalka, 20, a business student from the conservative town of Jenin, is one of the youngest members, the reigning women’s champion and a petrolhead who started driving aged 10, when she’d stack pillows
on the driving seat of her mother’s Volkswagen Golf and disappear off into the neighbourhood. These days she still races her mother’s car, but this time with her permission. Marah’s parents, her mother, a driving instructor, and her father, a dental technician, have supported their daughter throughout her short racing career, with her father even working longer hours to help pay for it. But her conservative relatives weren’t so easily convinced. “When my aunts and uncles found out I was racing, they thought I was just showing off for a group of guys,” she says, leaning against the car park wall. “They were so upset they stopped talking to me and my family.” Marah continued 55
RIGHT ON TRACK Clockwise from top left: Betty burns rubber with a pre-lap doughnut; Palestinian flags adorn the start /finish arch; a young fan catches the action from a raised viewing platform; Hadeel puts her mechanical engineering lessons to good use; one of the souped-up race cars competing in Jericho; Betty and Noor commit the course to memory before racing begins; one of the male racers tackles the obstacleladen track; Noor captivates the crowd; Noor’s bedroom is a shrine to her motorsport success
to race regardless, proving to be one of the top women drivers in the country, not only beating the other women, but finishing in the top 10 overall. Now she’s proven herself, they’re starting to come around. “Now they see it as a sport they have started to change their minds,” she says, “but it’s hard.” Changing these sorts of attitudes is one of the reasons the Speed Sisters team officially came into being in 2010, when an employee of the British Consulate General in Jerusalem heard about the small number of women racing and decided to help. The Consulate brought out British race driving trainers and donated helmets, race suits, an old BMW for practice, and came up with the all-important name to give the girls a stronger identity, which would also, they hoped, attract more sponsors. Motorsport is expensive the world over and Palestine is no exception. Just one set of race tyres costs well over €1,200, and finding funding here is no mean feat. All the Speed Sisters rely on help from their families in addition to every spare shekel from their wages to keep them in competition. For Marah and fellow Speed Sister Mona Ennab, 25, a self-professed tomboy who stands next to her wearing an oversized jumper, the cost of fixing their damaged cars has proved too high to race tomorrow. They have still travelled from their West Bank hometowns to Jericho to cheer on the team from the sidelines and celebrate the end of the season, but Marah’s hopes of defending her title have been dashed. Despite their disappointment, evidence of the positive effect the team is having is close by. On the other side of the car park a smartly dressed slip of a girl is clutching a clipboard to her chest and trotting to keep up with a team of middleaged officials in dirty overalls who are doing the rounds of inspection. Hadeel Jaradat is a 20-year-old mechanical engineering student and the Speed Sisters’ latest recruit – despite the fact she can’t drive. Her chess-expert father has finally given in and is giving her lessons. “My father says in chess always imagine your opponent is the most clever person in the world,” Hadeel laughed earlier, “and on the road 57
ADDITIONAl PHOTOGrAPHY: TANYA HABJOUQA
Main picture: The final speed test of the season in the eastern town of Jericho. Five events are held per year all over the West Bank from Bethlehem to Nablus. They are run by the Palestinian Motorsport Federation which was founded in 2005, and in 2010 was recognised by motorsport governing body, the FIA. Federation head Khaled Qadura has been instrumental in recruiting women to join the sport. “We’re very happy to have the women involved,” he says. “I’m always looking for new female talent. Palestinian women are involved in the top level of everything, in politics and business, so why not sport?” Below: Noor gets ready to race; a race car arrives in Jericho
always assume the other drivers are the most stupid!” For now Hadeel is learning on the job, eagerly helping the Motorsport Federation mechanics assess the race cars. She is one of only three girls in a year group of 300 studying mechanical engineering at the university in ramallah, despite her parents begging her to choose a more ‘suitable’ career for a woman, her mother lamenting that the underside of a car is no place for a lady. But Hadeel remained steadfast and couldn’t believe her good fortune when she discovered the Speed Sisters. “That helped my parents to see that mechanical engineering can have a future in Palestine for a woman,” she says. “I can be here learning and checking the cars before the races. Seeing these women race also gave me a big boost in self-esteem. I want to be racing with them by March.” When Hadeel finishes registering the last cars, night has set in and thoughts turn to the race tomorrow. As a queue forms to leave, the mass exodus of soupedup racers can be heard for miles as they burn their way back to town. race day in Palestine starts early. The sun has barely made it over the distant Jordanian mountains overlooking Jericho when the first racers start doing doughnuts on the scrubland behind the large concreted area that will host the competition. It lies on the eastern border of the Palestinian territories, overlooked by a fortified Israeli checkpoint which contains a single guard, who is observing the preparations from his tower. The speed test series is a great source of pride for Palestinians, since there is no Israeli equivalent. “They would love to come and race here,” says a Federation official known as Monty, as he looks up to the blue and white flag visible above the trees. “But the way things are that’s just not going to happen.” The first spectators have arrived, buying grilled corn-onthe-cobs from vending stalls that must have been set up in the dark, some fans already clambering onto the corrugated roofs of the shelters surrounding the course to bag the best view. On the spectator side of 60
a start/finish arch draped in Palestinian flags is the makeshift VIP area, where pictures of Yasser Arafat and Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas hang behind rows of white plastic chairs. Palestinian security police dressed in blue and black camo uniforms stand in groups chatting, waiting like everyone else for the action to begin. As the crowd gathers, Betty, wearing a red racesuit, walks the course with her brother George, familiarising herself with the route around the cone slaloms and tyre corridors before racing begins, clutching an official course map drawn in blue and orange felt-tip pen. Noor is crouched next to her black BMW behind the course, with her black-and-yellow racesuit rolled down to the waist, carefully attaching a number 53 sticker as rapt kids look on. The interior has been reduced to an industriallooking shell, its insides stripped out to save weight. Noor’s mother, who runs a designer clothing boutique in ramallah where Noor works, gave her the car. It’s the same one she used to strap Noor into as an eight-year-old girl, a time when neither of them
could have imagined where it would end up. “Yeah she was a bit shocked when she first saw it,” Noor says in husky tones, “but she just wants me to be happy.” Noor, a natural-born sportswoman who has competed professionally in boxing, tennis and soccer, began drift racing on the streets of ramallah in 2008 and was spotted by the head of the Motorsport Federation, Khaled Qadura. Thanks to the American passport she inherited from her estranged father, she has also recently been selected to drive in the new Formula Two series in Israel after beating more than 7,000 people to one of the 10 places available. “I’ve loved cars since I was young,” she says, her brown eyes squinting against the sun. “Someone once asked me, ‘What do you prefer? Car racing or sex?’ And I said car racing without hesitation. It’s a beautiful thing. When the car gives me power, I control it, I’m the master. There’s no other adrenalin rush like it. When I go to Israel it will be a completely different sort of racing, but I’m going to be
“RACING lETS PEOPlE KNOw THAT THE PAlESTINIAN PEOPlE CAN NEvER bE TRAPPED IN A HOlE”
good. I’m going to show the world what Palestinians are capable of.” At 9am racing gets under way. The Speed Sisters watch from their own designated area now, complete with 34-year-old team manager and sixth team member Maysoon Jayyusi who has just arrived from her boutique in ramallah, bringing with her yellow-branded Speed Sisters T-shirts and caps, and a large banner bearing their logo. An almost exclusively male crowd, three bodies deep, lines all sides of the course. Kids stand on bins to get a better view as men hold their phones outstretched to record the action. loud Arabic pop music blares out of portable speakers as a quiffed announcer introduces each driver in turn, before they force their cars tightly around the obstacles with screeches of protest from the tyres, engulfing a seemingly grateful crowd in thick smoke. Each driver has two runs before the top 10 fastest go for a third time to decide the winner. Though all cars are in competition, they’re
also divided into five power classes, and Betty’s first run is a tidy 1:59s for her GTI. Noor is not so lucky, taking a wrong turn right at the end of her run classed as a ‘wrong road’. Her car is also overheating. “I’m going to really go for it next time,” she says, standing by her steaming vehicle afterwards. “And if it burns, let it burn!” The Speed Sisters have inspired another woman to come and race with them today. Sahar Jawabrah, a 44-year-old schoolteacher, saw footage of the Speed Sisters on television and wanted to have a go herself. She now occasionally turns up to tests, the only woman ever to have raced wearing the hijab. This is her fourth appearance and, as before, she has turned up alone. She completes a slow-butrespectable lap and drives off the course smiling, hiding her face with embarrassment as the crowds cheer through her windows. “My family don’t like this sort of thing,” she says after her run. “But I love it as it’s a kind of freedom. I saw the
SISTER ACT Above: Saadeh helps her mechanic Maher transform her car from race machine to city ride. Left: Daoud takes matters into her own hands at the salon above her mother’s clothes boutique in Ramallah. After a tough race the day before, she’s ready for a night out on the town to celebrate Saadeh’s championship win.
Speed Sisters doing it and thought, ‘If them, why not me?’” Noor starts her second run with a doughnut spin that draws huge cheers from the crowd, a grin visible on her lips through the smoke, but her overheated car has to be wrestled around the course and she won’t be the one woman to progress to the top 10. That honour is for Betty, who produces an even quicker run to secure her place among the men. She now poses for pictures with male fans in the break before the shoot-out, as the announcer comes in search of reigning women’s champion Marah to ask her to explain why she’s not competing. Sitting on the floor in front of the safety rail, she shyly takes the mic and explains her car trouble to the 1,500-strong crowd. They give her a consolatory cheer as she smiles with embarrassment, pleased, nonetheless, her absence has been acknowledged. When the final phase of the day’s racing gets under way it’s almost 6pm and the cheers are at their loudest. Betty increases the volume with a doughnut spin as she pulls up to the start, the Black Eyed Peas’ Boom Boom Pow blaring out from the speakers. She weaves nimbly between the slalom cones, finishing a neat lap with her best time of the day, a 1:54.57. With the other, more powerful, modified cars of the remaining men also performing well, she doesn’t crack the top five, but she’s won the women’s championship and come top of her otherwise all-male GTI class. As the crowd swarms the course to congratulate the winners, Betty stands on her car bonnet under the start/finish arch, posing for the cameras and looking down at a sea of mobile phones as her team-mates look on. The Speed Sisters are at the end of another successful year, helping Palestinian motorsport’s popularity thrive. “The act of Palestinian women racing for me is so important,” says Marah from the sidelines. “It shows freedom. People think Palestinian women are held back, but actually here we are racing in a sport that is known as a man’s sport. racing lets people know the Palestinian people can never be trapped in a hole. We go out and we race, just like any place in the world.” www.speedsisters.tv
Husband and wife Richard and Elina Ussher team up, and excel, in the ultra-competitive world of multisport and adventure racing. But can domestic bliss and international athletic success really co-exist? Words: Robert Tighe Photography: Graeme Murray
Married less than two years after meeting, Richard and Elina Ussher have made their home in Nelson, New Zealand, where their neighbours are also likely to be multisport athletes, thanks to the city’s climate and nearby hills and parks
here’s a white race singlet hanging on the back wall of richard and Elina Ussher’s garage. it’s the singlet richard wore when he won his second Coast to Coast, the unofficial multisport world championship. scribbled on the singlet in black marker is a note signed ‘sisu-Kissa’. “it says, ‘Well done, i love you,’ in Finnish,” Elina explains. And sisu-Kissa? “that’s Elina’s nickname,” says richard, smiling at his wife. Kissa is the Finnish word for cat while sisu has been described as “the word that explains Finland”. the literal translation is ‘having guts’ but it means much more than that. it was sisu that helped Finland resist repeated invasions by those pesky russians. reporting on the Winter War between the two countries in 1940, Time magazine defined sisu as “a compound of bravado and bravery, of ferocity and tenacity, of the ability to keep fighting after most people would have quit, and to fight with the will to win”. “you can go through anything when you have sisu,” says Elina. “you don’t give up too easy.” richard Ussher is from new Zealand, where there is something similar, the Maori term mana, “the stuff of which magic is formed”. sir Edmund hillary had mana. All Blacks captain richie McCaw has it. the Usshers have it, and it helps explain why they’re two of the most successful athletes in multisport, also known as adventure racing. Adventure racing is an endurance sport that combines different disciplines in race formats that vary from one-day sprints to 10-day expeditions. trail running, mountain biking, kayaking, navigation skills and rope work (abseiling or ascending) are common race elements; rickshaw relays, roller-skating, camel racing and canyoneering are some of the more unusual. it’s a sport where the ability to overcome adversity is more important than any other skill. take the red Bull Wulong Mountain Quest in China last year, for example. A four-day stage race over 230km, the prologue started with a frantic bunch sprint. Elina fell over and was trampled as she lay on the ground. At the end of the second day, richard puked behind the podium at prize giving. that night Elina picked up a vomiting bug and for the next 24 hours couldn’t keep any food down. And yet team Ussher battled the badness in their bellies to win the race. “Elina did a fantastic job of hanging tough,” says richard. “she just hates to lose.” And what makes richard tick? “he has lots of sisu,” says Elina.
AdditionAl PhotogrAPhy: PhotosPort (2)
Elina Ussher does the hard yards at the 2011 Coast to Coast race in New Zealand and, right, Richard Ussher in the saddle at the 2007 race
elson is the sunshine capital of new Zealand and home to many of the country’s top multisporters, attracted by the climate and the superb training terrain in the nearby hills and national parks. the Usshers live in a modest bungalow at the top of a steep hill with sweeping views of nelson Airport and tasman Bay. From the outside there are no clues that one of the fittest married couples in the world live here. All the evidence is in the garage where the tools of their trade are neatly stored: bikes, kayaks, paddles and other miscellaneous sporting paraphernalia. in a cubbyhole off the garage is a rickety-looking wooden shelf, heaving with trophies. the couple bought the house at the end of 2005, just a few months after they got to know each other at an adventure race in south Africa. “richard was looking really good and
i knew he was interested in me because he was smiling at me really nicely,” explains Elina. “When i started in the sport, Elina was one of the top girls,” says richard. “A lot of the girls tend to look like guys, so Elina was a bit of a novelty. All the guys knew who she was.” Elina Mäki-rautila was a promising cross-country skier in her native Finland before entering her first adventure race in 2000. the race was organised by team nokia, one of the top-ranked teams in the world at the time. they were looking for a female to join their team and offered Elina a free trip to a race in Mexico. her skiing career was over. richard Ussher was a promising middle distance runner in high school in Wellington before watching the 1994 Winter olympics on tV. he swapped his running shoes for skis and four years later finished 25th in freestyle skiing 65
at the Ussher house, it’s not ‘where’s my kit?’ it’s where isn’t it
(moguls) at the Winter olympics in nagano, Japan. not bad for a guy from new Zealand, a country with a dismal record at the Winter games; not good enough for a competitive animal like Ussher. “in many ways i didn’t feel like i belonged there,” he says. “it took me a long time to appreciate the experience.” he skied for one more season but quit the sport, frustrated at the lack of funding and coaching in new Zealand. Another serendipitous tV moment, this time it was footage of the Coast to Coast, inspired him to enter his first multisport event in 2001. that same year, Elina won the Adventure racing World Championship with team nokia. richard won back-to-back world titles with two different teams in 2005/06 but then walked away from a lucrative gig with nike to form his own team with Elina. “no one in the sport makes massive money, but it was guaranteed money,” he says. “it would have been far easier 66
too many shoes is a unisex problem here
for me to stay with nike, but we really wanted to race on the same team.” the couple got married in March 2007 and a few months later competed together in a team for the first time, in scotland. the standard format for professional adventure racing is four-man teams made up of three guys and a girl. the Usshers recruited two of the best adventure racers in the world, nathan Fa’avae and Aaron Prince, for the race in scotland. on paper it was a dream team; in reality it was a nightmare. nathan, Aaron and richard were used to captaining their own teams, “so we had three chiefs and no indians”, explains richard. “on top of that, Elina and i hadn’t worked out how we were going to work together as part of a larger team.” “it was heartbreaking how richard treated me,” says Elina. “My new husband, bossing me around, telling me to ‘hurry up, don’t cry, it doesn’t hurt that much.’” “you can’t play favourites on a team,”
richard says, in his defence. “in adventure racing quite often you’ll fall off your bike or injure yourself and you just don’t have time to stop and say, ‘Are you oK, honey?’ you’re a professional racer; get up and get on with it. But it took trial and error to find a happy balance between respecting each other as husband and wife and pushing each other as team-mates.” “i’m better now,” says Elina. “i don’t cry every time something goes wrong and i don’t get upset if richard is a bit rough with his words.” After struggling in sixth in scotland, the Usshers finished second in their next race and beat team nike in their third race (this time with Aaron Prince and gordon Walker). there are only 15-20 full-time professional adventure racers who travel the world as guns for hire, but since 2007, the Usshers have raced on the same team. it has its benefits: “Because we spend so much time together, we don’t need to verbally communicate what we need or how we’re feeling, because the other person knows,” says richard. And its challenges: “People say to me, ‘i can’t stand my wife for a weekend, never mind a four-day race.’ We do get cabin fever. if we’re training hard, focusing on an event, we can get grumpy with each other.” With two type A personalities living,
training and racing together, is a friendly game of scrabble possible? “We don’t really do board games,” laughs richard. “but when we go for a ride or a run, Elina will often sit behind me and blast past on the home stretch to claim bragging rights. if i give it 100 per cent, i’ll beat her pretty much every time and she’s not happy. But if i don’t try, she’s not happy either. i can’t win.” ichard Ussher rarely gets beaten,” says robin Judkins, creator of the Coast to Coast, a 243km run-cycle-kayak from one coast of new Zealand’s south island to the other, and a race that inspired the modern era of adventure racing. “i’ve seen him cruise across the finish line. he has a wonderful ability to push himself but hold a little bit back. he’s just a superb all-round athlete; one of the best i’ve seen.” in February, the Usshers will attempt to become the first husband and wife to win the men’s and women’s Coast to Coast in the same year. Elina won in 2010, over a course shortened because of bad weather. richard has won the race four times, returning last year after a three-year break from multisport to focus
WoRld IN MotIoN
2012’s key adventure races
PatagoNIaN ExPEdItIoN RaCE Chile, February 14-22 Sea kayaking, trekking, mountain biking, rope work, navigation skills. The route is kept secret until the night before. www.patagonian expeditionrace.com SIbERIaN blaCk ICE RaCE March 15-apr 10 Kite skiing, mountain biking, cross-country skiing, running, skating. Three weeks, 610km across a frozen lake. www.extremeworld races.com
‘I’m just working in the garage for a sec, honey’
RaId IN FRaNCE September 15-22 Mountain biking, trekking, canoeing, mountaineering caving, ropes, orienteering, and ‘cultural activities’. Adventure racing’s top 65 teams in its world champs. www.raidinfrance.com
on triathlon, a move motivated by his frustration with the lack of recognition for adventure racing. “For adventure racing to move forward, the media has to embrace it as a sport, rather than as a freak show,” he says. “it’s like, ‘look at these stupid idiots running around, not sleeping for four or five days.’ i did triathlon to show we were legitimate athletes.” Ussher proved a lot of doubters wrong in 2009 by setting the record for the fastest ironman by a new Zealander. he also finished in the top 10 at the off-road triathlon Xterra World Championships, but racing at this level takes it toll. Athletes have to limit their participation, which limits their income. “the biggest challenge for us is the schedule we have to undertake each year to make it possible to be professional,” he explains. “We do a silly amount of races.” this year, richard competed in 20 major races – adventure races, multisport and triathlon – winning 14; Elina won 10 of the 14 races she entered. Finishing on the podium and in the prize money is the only way they can make a living, and even then it’s a struggle. At the end of 2007 they maxed out their credit cards to pay their way to a race in Abu dhabi. if they didn’t finish in the top three, their house would be on the line. they won, but the first prize of Us$40,000 (split four ways) was only enough to pay off debts. now they plan their year based on which events offer the most cash. they both turn 36 this year and are starting to ask the question: what happens next? Elina hopes to design sportswear, while richard is involved in a kayak business. settling for a domesticated, Monday-toFriday existence won’t come easy. “When i moved to new Zealand, i said to richard, ‘i want to do one more race.’ that was six years ago. now i think he’s scared i’m going to race forever,” says Elina. “i sometimes think adventure racing is crazy, but i’m stuck. i just love the challenge.” “you do sometimes feel like you’re on a treadmill and can’t get off, but i love racing and i love competition, so i don’t think i’ll ever retire,” says richard. “some races can be a real hardship, but when you get to the finish and reflect on all the things you’ve had to overcome to get there, that’s where the satisfaction comes from. there are times in the middle of a race when you’re cold and hungry and miserable and you want to be anywhere else, but making it through that can be a powerful thing.” now that’s sisu. www.adventuresportnz.com
N O action
Running through the wild, untamed mountain kingdom of Lesotho, the Roof of Africa is a three-day extreme enduro that takes riders to the very edge of their resilience. In 2011, the UKâ€™s Graham Jarvis was the man who held it together to take the win Words: Mike Behr Photography: Nick Muzik
Only the brave: the Roof of Africa race is tough on man and machine, as South African rider Charan Moore found out
Mountain madness: even the easy routes can be frightening â€“ riders encounter loose rock, boulders and sand
Even the sensible route down Free Fall Pass will scare you. Myriad switchbacks zigzag across a 40-degree slope of loose mountainside rock and sand, before merging into an even steeper boulderstrewn, floodwater-carved ravine. For the competitors in the Roof Of Africa enduro, Free Fall has always been more of a launch point than path. You practically need a parachute to get down this mountain pass, hence the jokey name. This year, in a wicked twist to mark the 44th running of the legendary Roof, the organisers have chosen to send the riders up Free Fall instead of down. “That’s where you’ll get the real taste of the Roof,” says event organiser Mike Glover, pointing to the inflatable blue arch positioned about 400m below. “That’s where you’ll find your guts and glory stories.”
itting next to his bike, slumped in the shade of the arch and slugging a can of Red Bull is Gary Bennett, a chubby bloke in his 30s. It doesn’t look like it’s going to give him wings, but common sense has long flown the coop. “It’s very tough,” he pants, “but I can’t stop now…” Back in the saddle, Bennett guns his KTM 300. His brother, who’s been cheerleading from various points all day, yells: “C’mon, boet! Do it for the amputees!” With that Gary bumps off up the track, albeit for only 50m or so. It’s a moment to be dumbstruck. For the amputees? Bennett, 35, from South Africa, who lost a leg above the knee in a motor accident nine years ago, is about to finish the Roof as a Bronze rider (there are three categories, Gold, Silver and Bronze, based on ability). Over two days, this warrior has ridden 167 gruelling kilometres across the toughest mountain terrain imaginable, following the grinding procession upwards. His stops are as frequent as brother Rob’s words of encouragement. “It’s yours, boet!” he implores using the Afrikaans slang for brother. “It’s yours, boet! C’mon, it’s yours, boet!” And off Bennett roars again. It’s his second Roof after being time-barred in 2008. “I came back because I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. That disabled people can also ride the Roof. But I don’t think I’ll do it again…” says Bennett, who
From top: You can see from Calvin Wright’s face, just how challenging the course has been; Eventual winner Graham Jarvis skips over the tough terrain; A young boy gets in on the action at the start; Duplicate GPS devices keep the riders on track
nearly didn’t make it to the start after he fell so hard in training three weeks ago that he thought he’d broken his ribs. Eventually, Bennett pops out of the track onto the red carpet to the finish line. Fittingly, he’s riding the KTM 300 XC-W that last year gave New Zealander Chris Birch his third Roof victory in a row. The difference, though, is that while the top riders like Birch dance over the steep passes, Bennett and the bulk of the field claw their way over. It’s like watching the last survivors of a damned superheroes convention fight their way out of Dante’s Inferno. Tears in his eyes, Rob’s bursting with pride. “I’m so humbled and so proud. It sums up what the Roof is all about. And the kind of person it takes to finish.” And Rob is the kind of spectator this race attracts. There are around 5,000 this year, many of them astride their own bikes. Some are content to sit on a rock in the baking heat, sipping ice-cold lager, but as many immerse themselves physically and emotionally. Not a moment goes by when spectators aren’t wading in to help a fallen rider or drag a bucking bike back onto the track. Some of the race’s most evocative images are of locals and tourists joining hands in a chain and hauling bike and rider like a Great Trek ox wagon over a section that has him beat. Spectator interaction makes the Roof special. But it also racks up the tension as riders enter the ‘no-help zone’ in their burst for the finish. Like the closing moments of the final day in this year’s event, when South Africa’s Jade Gutzeit and Birch fight each other out of the energy-sapping Bushmen’s Pass for second spot. Gutzeit takes a tumble and loses his Yamaha 290 down a rocky ledge. As Birch blasts past on his KTM, several spectators scramble down off the track, knowing this time words and advice rather than muscle will have to do. About 100m away at the finish line across the ravine, Clerk of the Course Clint Rieper waives the no-help rule. Spectators in earshot haphazardly shout the news across to Gutzeit’s helpers. But the overhead TV chopper slaps away their words. Undeterred, more voices join in, quickly finding the unison of a Premier League crowd: “Help him! Help him!” they chant but to no avail. Spontaneously, several spectators take up the call and set off from different mountainside positions, picking their way across the rocks. Encouraged, the gallery redirect their chant, willing them to go faster. By now there are tears all around. Suddenly, like a cork out of a champagne 71
Balancing act: Briton Dan Hemingway on his way to 18th place
bottle, Gutzeit pops back onto the track and both sides of the ravine erupt in a collective roar. It’s lump-in-throat stuff drama, echoing last year when South Africa’s Brian Capper succumbed to fatigue about 500m from the finish line with 20 minutes to cut-off. By the time he reached Rieper, who had heard of the drama below, the crowd were hysterical. Unable to help and with around five minutes remaining they were screaming at Capper, slumped over his handlebars, to move the last 100m. “When he got to me he was out of it,” recalls Rieper. “He was throwing up in his helmet and his eyes were glazed. It wasn’t going to affect the leaderboard so I waived the no-help rule.” With minutes to spare spectators hoisted man and bike and ran the lot over the finish line. Exhausted and dehydrated, Capper left the finish on a stretcher but returned this year the fittest he has ever been to finish fifth on the final day, seventh overall. “The biggest problem in these mountains is you get dehydrated,” explains organiser Glover, himself a Roof veteran. “It gets very hot and by the time you feel thirsty, it’s too late. Altitude doesn’t help either. From 1,500m riders climb to over 2,200. So there’s just no air. You get light-headed. Just picking up your hand takes a huge effort. And that plays havoc with concentration. You start to see stars and hallucinate. As physical exhaustion sets in, you make mistakes.”
xhaustion is a Roof rider’s Achilles’ heel, says Glover. “Riders are up at four in the morning and start around six. The top guys are in the saddle for eight hours, the rest for up to 12. You can never relax. There are rocks and rocks and rocks. It’s like a title fight. Your body takes such a pounding that eventually you just can’t hold onto your bike any more. “But when you fall and your bike slides down the mountain, you’ve got to go after it and pull it back up. It weighs 120kg, so eventually, after physically manhandling your bike all day, it takes its toll. That’s why a woman has never finished the Roof. Lots have tried, but they just haven’t had the physical strength to finish.” Probing riders for the deeper meaning behind racing the Roof yields little philosophising, possibly because it’s such a ‘jock’ activity. Most riders do it because they can. Extreme enduro riders
The Roof by Numbers Day 1
Run over November 24-26, 2011, the Roof opens with a 50.1km time trial around the Lesotho capital of Maseru. This determines starting times from Molengoane, the following day, when the Roof proper kicks off.
Leading contenders set off at 6am and race 198.4km for around eight hours up and down passes appropriately named things like ‘Pressure Cooker’ (notorious for blowing engines), ‘Mad Cow’, ‘Black Neck’, ‘Spiderman’ (because you need to be), the arduous ‘Classes Classic’ that really sorts the men from the boys, before the notorious ‘Free Fall’ at the finish. Bronze and Silver riders do the same route, but call it a day sooner at 85km and 135.8km respectively.
Starting according to the previous day’s finishing time, the Bronze category competitors do 81.8km of intense climbs and drops, while the Silver crew continue for another 65.1km, including a charactertesting climb up the 6km Mankaluba Pass which summits at 2,286m in the clouds before finishing at the top of notorious Bushmen’s Pass. Gold forge on for another 41.8km, looping around and up to 2,350m before dropping back into the valley for a morale-breaking second assault up Bushmen’s to the finish. Out of 234 entrants from South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, the UK and Portugal, just 53 finished the full race distance of 387.1km. There were 82 Bronze finishers and 65 Silver. When the sun set on the final day there were two riders missing. They were rescued by lunchtime the following day, one of them on horseback.
are very in-the-moment. Like 17-year-old Carl Donaldson, who is walking away from his Bronze finish between two emotional parents. “It’s my first extreme enduro and I loved it,” confesses Donaldson, who’s been riding bikes since the age of two. “It’s good fun. I enjoy a challenge. Chris Birch didn’t win three times by watching the Roof on TV. You’ve got to get out there and do it.” But why this? “I love riding my bike more than anything,” he says. “Being out there is where I’m happy.” The song remains the same even with one man who should be the wiser, enduro legend Alfie Cox, who from 1988 won nine Roofs, three of them on the trot. “Humans want to be challenged,” says Cox, now the dynamo in the KTM pit for Birch and other overseas riders. “They want to be taken out of their comfort zone and pushed to the limit. And the Roof does that. It’s the ultimate adventure. It’s one of the toughest events in the world.” Tougher than the 89km road-running Comrades Marathon, reckons last Gold finisher in 2009 Jaun de Heer, aged 29. “You need much more endurance. I was finished in 2009. I was like a zombie for a week. I wanted to quit but my pit crew pulled me through.” So did the consequence of baling. “If you quit in Comrades you can just jump in a bus. Here you can’t unless you want to spend the night under the stars in the middle of nowhere.”
country to ride motorbikes in. It’s 100 per cent freedom.” When it comes to combining fun and challenge, there’s no other race like the Roof, which he describes as “a big adventure”, it’s just full of nice people eager to help one another. His range of race emotion is as extreme as the rocky terrain which “smacks you around” all day. “You go from having loads of fun and the best time ever to being almost in tears because you’re so fatigued you can’t get up this one stupid rock face,” says Birch. “It teaches you a lot about yourself, how to control your body and mind while you’re up against extreme hardship.”
nly the third rider in the Roof’s 44-year history to claim a hat-trick of Roof wins, Red Bull’s Birch was denied an historic quartet by the UK’s Graham Jarvis. With his victory in the Roof, Jarvis has now won all but one of the world’s Top Five enduros in 2011 after also collecting the first place trophies at Hell’s Gate (Italy), The Tough One (England) and Red Bull Romaniacs (Romania). Only the Erzberg rodeo in Austria remains unclaimed. A man of many trophies, yes, but not of many words, unfortunately... even at the supper table. Birch, though, is more forthcoming. Surprisingly, I find him not back at his hotel, but tucked in with the finish line crowd. “It wouldn’t be right to leave when my mates are still out there,” explains the Kiwi, who fought back on Saturday after crashing early and injuring his foot. It says a lot about the egalitarianism of this race. Birch loves Lesotho. “It’s really a beautiful 74
From top: In 2010 Brian Capper suffered exhaustion at the finish. In 2011 he was seventh; Gary Bennett (left), who lost a leg in a motor accident, finished in the Bronze category; The race takes its toll – Wayne Everton receives treatment for a broken wrist, but he still finished 22nd in the Silver category
control that Wayne Everton, 43, has fine tuned. About 45km from his 6.35am Saturday start he crashed his KTM 300 and fractured his wrist. Around seven hours and 140km later he was the 22nd Silver rider across the line. “I wanted Gold today, but I can only manage Silver,” puffed the ashen-faced rider while race doctor Jacques Theron splints his arm and paramedics scan him for other injuries. In his red racing gear minus his jacket, Everton resembles an injured Spiderman. “I hit a lurker [a big rock in the grass] flat out and went flying over the bars and landed on my wrist,” says Everton. “I was in a lot of pain the whole way and only got painkillers an hour and a half back. But I had to finish otherwise the missus would’ve killed me. The training and shit takes up too much time.” Doc Theron is full of admiration. “Sheer balls and ‘vasbyt’ [determination]. He overrode the pain mentally and went for it. It shows you the power of the mind. Most guys would have quit then and there. It’s guts and glory.” Played out against a spectacular backdrop of ever-changing mountain, valley and sky, these stories of bravery and finding self not only make the Roof unique but also quite meditative. “When you’re on the bike, you don’t have a worry in the world because you’re so focused,” explains Roof veteran and former South African enduro champ Hilton Hayward, 43, now the Dr Suspension of enduro, who fine-tunes bikes from his mobile workshop. “And that goes on for hours. You’re so in tune with the bike and yourself it’s like surfing the sand. For me, watching a top rider is like watching ballet.” www.roofofafrica.org.ls
Joy and relief: Graham Jarvis wins the 44th running of the Roof of Africa enduro in Lesotho
the long way
home Stephen Redmond has one goal: to be the first swimmer to cross the Oceanâ€™s Seven channels and straits. With three down, four to go, we headed for the California coast near Los Angeles for what turned out to be the toughest swim of his life Words: Nicolas Stecher Photography: Chris Baldwin
othing is going according to plan. It is 5.57am on the frosty morning of October 20, 2011, and a vile retching can suddenly be heard bellowing out from the starboard side of our boat â€“ a sound not unlike the primal scream a gutted hyena might make. It is a howl that summons all, from the insides of the boat to the railing. From a distance of about 40m away in the pitch-black night, you can see open-water swimmer Stephen Redmond projectile vomiting like a hosepipe on full blast. It is a nasty sight: his jaw unlocks violently like a transforming werewolf from a 1980s horror film. This is not really what you want happening only four hours into an expected 13-hour swim. Alongside Redmond, seasoned marathon swimmer and official observer Forrest Davis lies
words, he’s exactly what you’d expect from someone who’s dedicated his life to taking on the salty seas. As he starts playing, the melancholy tones ring out over the water to the lone swimming figure. The skipper may have hoped for the desired effect of welcoming the morning and infusing his swimmer with a regained fortitude, but the results are decidedly different. “I wanna get out! Pull me outta the water, you bloody bastards!” bellows Redmond, now only a couple of feet from the side of the boat. He has swum over to the boat and he’s angry and exhausted. “I’ve never called it before, but this time, I’m callin’ it!” “We’re not lettin’ ya in!” retorts Anthony Redmond, Stephen’s younger
dover en gla nd
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ocean’s seven swimming the english Channel is so 20th Century. With that in mind, open-water guru steven Munatones came up with something a bit more challenging – actually, a lot more challenging. stephen redmond, who has completed four of the swims, wants to be the first to do all seven 50 miles
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Mo ro cc
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1 IrIsh Channel Straits of Moyle 35.5km Done: 31.08.2010, 17 hours, 17 mins. Water temp: 12°C “I was attacked by box jellyfish for nine hours.” One of only 14 to swim it.
pacIfIc ocean Hakodate
sea of Japan H o aomori nSH 100 km u
2 englIsh Channel England-France 34km Done: 02.08.2009, 20 hours Water temp: 14°C “My wife, Ann, sang to me during the swim.” He also lost 7kg. 4 sTraIT of gIbralTar Gibraltar 13km Done: 08.05.2011, 5 hours Water temp: 16°C “Swell so large, I couldn’t see boat or land through the waves.” 6 Tsugaru sTraIT Northern Japan 20km Done? Not yet Water temp: 18°C Final leg, to be done by July. “Massive tides, wild currents and huge schools of squid.”
tas Man sea
wellinGton BlenHeim tH u nd So la S I
south pacIfIc o cean 100 km
loS angeleS maliBu
santa monica lonG BeacH
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3 Cook sTraIT New Zealand 42km Done? Not yet. Water temp: 16°C “Praying for good weather. One in five people encounters sharks – hoping they’re not hungry.” 5 MolokaI Channel Hawaii 42km Done? Second attempt due 29.02.2012 Water temp: 24°C “I’m anxious, but at least I now know what to expect.” 7 CaTalIna Channel California 34km Done: 20.10.2011 12 hours, 40 min Water temp: 15ºC “The hardest swim of my life.” Known for fast currents and sharks.
ILLUSTRATIOn: kEn ULRICH
“he’s being a bitch,” says brother anthony (right)
brother and official feeder. “It’s my call, and I’m callin’ it. I always finish, but this time it’s for real – I’m callin’ it!” barks Redmond in his rough Irish brogue, complaining about severe stomach cramps and a sore shoulder. He appears punch-drunk as he hurls expletives at his sibling, who is refusing to let him quit. His brother turns to us with a halfcocked smile and says, “He’s just being a bitch.” Anthony’s trying to be light, but you can see he’s concerned. Redmond has now been treading water for 10 minutes without swimming, a lifetime in a sport where half a degree of body temperature loss can spell doom. The drama is steady. There’s no panic, but there’s sincere anxiety – not enough to pull his brother into the boat, but enough to know that if Redmond keeps allowing himself to wallow down that mental path of despair, then the crossing will be cut short. Of course, if he really wanted to quit, all Redmond would have to do is touch the boat – the protocol to openwater swimming is a strictly enforced, strictly observed rigmarole. Anthony converses in hushed tones with Davis, who’s in the water on the paddleboard, and Davis swims over to
n IS or la tH n d
flat on a paddleboard whispering words of encouragement, trying to steer Redmond back into motion. After two minutes, Redmond has collected himself. Without a word, he again begins his breaststroke, slowly, methodically, relentlessly moving – the steady slap of his massive arms smacking against the water, sloshing ever forward. Off in the distance, Los Angeles isn’t a line or bright light, but rather a faint glow of a city shining up into the cloud cover from the black nothing of the sea. The City of Angels looks far away. Half an hour later, light has broken over the horizon and the sky is an inclement, soft blue-grey. The skipper, Greg Elliot, emerges from the bowels of his boat with a sack of plaid bagpipes wrapped around his body and ascends to the bridge overlooking the wide deck of his 63ft vessel, the Bottom Scratcher. It’s a tradition: every sunrise, Elliot rises to the top of the 42-year-old, purpose-built diving boat and plays the bagpipes to welcome the morning and help motivate his crew. Elliot’s appearance is somewhere between Blue from US comedy movie Old School and the weathered sea captain from The Simpsons – in other
Redmond and whispers in his ear. It’s bizarre. Redmond gains a sort of clarity in his eyes that had acquired the lost swirl of a concussion. “Gimme some chocolates and a sweet tea,” he orders. Quickly, the hot tea is produced and held out to him and a Milky Way is ripped from its wrapper and tossed toward him. It falls in the water. Redmond dives out of sight to fish it out, surfaces, and stuffs the small, wet chocolate into his mouth and without grabbing tea to wash it down, he once again strokes forward towards Los Angeles, slowly, methodically, relentlessly sloshing on his long trek across the lonely channel. From the boat, everyone cheers and hollers. It is a small step, a critical victory.
ery few human beings could put themselves through the physical torment, mental torture and seemingly terminal fatigue that Redmond is withstanding. You have to put your mind through a Sisyphean ordeal, with your only reward being the sharp rocks of shore under your feet some 20-odd kilometres away. Redmond isn’t just doing this once, either. He aims to be the first human
stephen redmond came very close to giving up
to cross the Ocean’s Seven – the openwater marathon swimmer’s version of mountaineering’s Seven Summits. He has so far conquered three (see opposite page), but he’s not alone in his quest. In his hometown in Ireland, the €3,997 needed for this swim was raised when friends, local farmers, fishermen, pub owners and shopkeepers all paid for the pleasure of ‘a rip’ of waxing strip stuck to his chest. (“I’ve never seen so many happy people in all my life,” Redmond quips.) He claims to do it all for his country, but it’s clear he draws his strength from a much closer familial well. The eldest son of Irish pub owners, Redmond was born in London and raised hell from the cot. He was no
good at football, so swimming was his sport of choice from a young age and he spent several years as a commercial diver off the coast of Scotland, plucking scallops for cash. Stephen Redmond is stout and gnarled, sharp-witted, loquacious (when he cares to be) and amiable. But you can easily discern the damage he might have done as a young lad. “For me, the swim’s all guilt, a way of trying to make up for all the stuff you did when you were young. Because I was such a crazy bastard, drinking and whoring around and having fun, and it’s kind of payback time now,” says the 46-year-old. “You realise there isn’t much time; all of a sudden you’re 40 and you haven’t achieved much.” Epiphany struck when his wife, Ann, gave birth to their daughter Siadbh (pronounced “Sive”), now 11. Redmond stopped drinking, started training, started a triathlon club and tried to focus his substantial energies into more productive endeavours. “Everybody wants instant gratification; everyone is celebrating mediocrity now. You can sing a song, and all of a sudden you’re a celebrity,” he muses. “But I always find that the harder you work, the more you get out
6.52 am With official observer forrest Davis: “In the water, you don’t talk to anybody but the guy who’s feeding you,” says redmond. “There’s an invisible umbilical cord between the two of you”
of something. It’s like building a statue out of salt; the doubts can chip away at the mental side of things and you get very weak and exhausted quickly.” But watching him treading water, you question his very sanity. At that pivotal moment in his swim, shortly after the pipes were played at dawn, Redmond had nothing left in his gut, no strength. His hours were all over the place; he didn’t know what time it was, day or night. He couldn’t get warm for some reason and the feeds – critical 1,000-calorie cocktails of protein powder, bananas and strong tea delivered every 45 minutes like clockwork – weren’t agreeing with his digestive tract. “Then Forrest just whispered into my ear: ‘Siadbh is thinking of you,’” recalls Redmond. “And that was it, just like flipping a switch – you couldn’t really quit, because you were letting everyone down. I thought, ‘A complete stranger comes over on a boat in the middle of the water in a faraway country and tells you your daughter wouldn’t want you to stop?’ It makes you pause; it becomes a surreal moment in your life. “See, you don’t know – I don’t think anyone really knows – much about pain. none of us. But we don’t know how far
12.05 Pm Twelve hours into his swim, redmond began to lose it. “I thought it was a spaceman under me!” he said of photographer Chris baldwin
“oh stevie boy...” The bagpipes drone
we can go either, you know? That’s what we’re testing: how far can we go.” near-failure seems to be integral to Redmond and his esoteric quest. Without touching that edge of failure, that precipice of despair and the very threshold of his abilities, there would be no victory. There would be no reason. There would be no swim. “I think people
are all looking for some golden happiness, but it doesn’t really exist out there, does it? You have to create that yourself. By having all these possessions, it’s not going to make you any happier; it’s all gonna come back down to your family and friends in the end,” he says. “After that, nothing else means much. “In Ireland, we see it with the economy going down – people are living quieter and concentrating on different things. Everything is back to normal again and maybe the swims are my way of figuring out how to get back to normal. Because you go out, then you come back – and you keep going until you can’t go any further. It’s just that you have people on the boat who will keep you going, and that’s all life is in the end.” In moments of near-failure, Redmond applies a mantra on each hand: Siadbh on one hand, his seven-year-old son Stevie on the other. “Siadbh and Stevie, Siadbh and Stevie, Siadbh and Stevie,” he repeats in a trance, rhythmically pushing his meat cleaver hands through the air. “I know that sounds crazy, but after you get into a rhythm, you kind of feel like you’re only skidding in through the water, like you’re going through a tunnel
1.36 Pm “You never think you can finish it until the last half mile,” says redmond after reaching land. “You spend three days afterwards thinking, ‘Did we really get it done?’”
in a water park, and you actually feel like it’s effortless in the end. It’s the nearest thing to being dead when you’re alive.”
ust after 1pm, Redmond is making his final, slow, methodically relentless push to the shore. He looks like a strange, xenomorphic beast – a blubbery, aquatic juggernaut, flabby around his barrel-like stomach, but muscular and enlarged around his massive shoulders and arms. He looks fluorescent white, almost pink, against the dark navy blue of the early morning water. From his armpits to his shoulder blades, there are whiter patches where viscous lanolin is smeared; it’s much less foul-smelling than the goose fat he usually slathers over his body. The overall effect lends him the look of a two-tone porpoise, strangely bonier and fatter in alternately strange places. now he’s nearing the coast. Only there is no smooth sandy beach to land on, the rock-filled breaks are numerous and treacherous – two swimmers have already cracked ribs here this winter. But he fights his way through the thick kelp beds, around the spraying rocks, and after 12 hours and 20km, he hits ground and begins making a wobbly ascent to the
“ it’s a funny sPort. the whole swim is Just for that one blinding second of brilliance; you couldn’t describe it to anybody”
shore. Yet he can’t quite stand up – his blood pressure is shot, his massive, pillarlike legs as shaky as a newborn giraffe’s. Then he stands. “I never want to see this bloody place ever again,” is the first thing that angrily spills from his mouth. Redmond flops on board with a loud thud. Thanks to the pallor of his Irish skin, the lanolin smeared across his wide body and the ample blubber he has built up to survive the cold and dire energy needs of the swim, he looks like a beached manatee (for his marathon swims, Redmond’s body fat swells from 10 to 18 per cent). He sits motionless, a glistening mound of bluish flesh heaving with each shallow breath. The skipper throws a set of thick towels around him and tries to get him up, but Redmond isn’t moving. “That was the hardest swim I ever swam,” he says with a protracted sigh that betrays the fatigue in his bones. “I couldn’t get over the current, I really didn’t think we were moving a lot of the time. Christ, everything was hard. The dark…” Soon Redmond is in the shower, shivering violently as steaming hot water pours over his body. His head falls heavily into his hands, where it remains as the water cascades over his shortly cropped scalp. He can’t believe he has finished. Clutching his head in his hands, it’s not clear his mind is even in his body at the moment. “I don’t wanna swim again. For a long time. I don’t even want to see water; the sooner I get off the boat, the better.” He curses under his breath, muttering something about an “abject hatred of swimming”. But as rotten as he’s feeling – eyes bloodshot and swollen shut from the brine, stomach empty and knotted, shoulder limp and battered, body convulsing, muscles in shutdown – there is a sparkle of recognition, even if he’s not totally there to witness it himself. “It’s a funny kind of sport; that one second touching the rock and everything becomes quite crystal clear. Simple. The whole swim is just for that one blinding second of brilliance; you really couldn’t describe it to anybody – the finish,” says Redmond, more to himself than anyone, still in some sort of post-traumatic shock. “It’s cataclysmic – it’s like a blinding flash in your head that you’ve made this swim. You try to imagine it over and over again, what it’s going to be like and every one of them is different. You’re hooked into it, and you can’t help yourself. You have to go again.” follow redmond’s progress on www.oceans7.org
Read about how Flying Bulls squadron leader Radka Máchová prepares to get high in style on page 90
Contents 84 TRAVEL IDEAS Alaskan skiing via helicopter 86 GLOBAL FOOD One chef’s inspiration and a recipe to follow 88 Get THE GEAR Franky Zorn’s ice speedway kit 90 TRAINING Tips from the pros 92 BEST CLUBS Cairo’s top haunt 92 MUST LISTEN Loch Lomond, US folk collective 93 TAKE 5 The film music that’s inspired Air 94 WORLD IN ACTION 96 SAVE THE DATE 98 MIND’S EYE
Photography: Nikos Mitsouras/Reporter Images
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Up where ski belongs Virgin powdery snow, endless steep runs and six chopper rides a day to the places ski-lifts will never reach. This place is dreamland for daring downhillers Haines, alaska
Head north-east out of the sparsely populated Alaskan city of Haines and after around 53km you’ll come across a burger restaurant, a few small wooden huts, a petrol station and a helipad. This sleepy location in the middle of nowhere is the home of Sean ‘Sean Dog’ Brownell’s heliskiing concern, Alaska Heliskiing. Sean Dog welcomes each of his customers with a firm handshake. He looks like a lumberjack – wellington boots, flannel shirt, a grubby jacket. But what you should know is that
Sean Dog is a wonderful skier, and that’s precisely why he’s so good at knowing exactly what his customers want. Some of the downhill runs to which Alaska Heliskiing’s crew will take you by helicopter to have 53-degree gradients. no wonder extreme skiers and snowboarders are regulars on those short flights. Alaska is powder paradise. The atmosphere at the helibase is as changeable as the Alaskan weather: up one minute, with sunshine and fresh snow; down the next, with too much wind or not enough snow. They call days when the helicopter can’t fly or when the snow conditions aren’t good, ‘down days’. There is no shortage of down days and they are a great test of one’s patience, because on down days, Haines has a fairly small range of entertainments. There are only three roads out of here, and two end in nature reserves about 30 minutes’ drive away. The third heads towards the canadian border, to the 33 Mile roadhouse, with its triple-play offering of ‘Food gas Beer’, and Sean Dog’s helibase. At one of the nature reserves,
the kroschel Wildlife center, you can look a wolverine in the eye and then enjoy a boat trip, to watch sea lions and whales. However, down days can stop all outdoor activities, if the weather’s really bad. The Pioneer Bar, the best pub in town, is the favourite place to seek shelter. you’ll often find half of Haines meeting here for a drink. on down days you might well come across pro freestyle skiers and snowboarders such as Tanner Hall and Travis rice, or Tom Burt and Jeremy Jones. When the weather clears, the helibase, which slumbers in a pleasantly lethargic atmosphere on down days, becomes a bustling deep-snow departure lounge. Before too long, you’re in a helicopter yourself, with pilots, a guide and four other powder junkies. The flight into the breathtaking world of the mountains can’t come quickly enough, but in terms of sightseeing is way too short. Wherever you look, there are glaciers, bizarre snow and ice formations and enormous snowdrifts. The helicopter touches down, you squeeze yourself out, remembering to
WorDS AnD PHoTogrAPHy: DAniel kuDernATScH
this month’s travel tips
Fishing boats in the harbour at Haines
Sea lions off the coast of Alaska
After altitudes of 1,200m and adrenalin rushes, it’s time for a group photo
The Pioneer Bar in Haines: meeting place for freeriders and locals alike
duck, and grab your boards, skis and rucksacks. We’ll only see Al, our Vietnam veteran pilot, and his helicopter again once we’ve finished our downhill run. We stay where we are, halfway up a mountain in the middle of Alaska. The downhills are a pure adrenalin rush. The guides call them ‘rollovers’, the sorts of ski run you can only appreciate once you’ve set off and the summit is behind you. These are dangerous, steep mountainsides and our guide is meticulous in his description of how to ski down them. “Always stick to the spine [an inverted V-shaped peak formed naturally in the snow]. if sliding snow turns into a small avalanche, or ‘slough’, swerve left or right over a trough as quickly as possible onto the nearest spine. And don’t stand still. complete the run smoothly and quickly. At the end of the run, don’t go too far to the right as there’s a 120m drop there, but then we all saw that from the helicopter anyway! is that all quite clear? Then let’s go!”
travel info Getting there With Alaska Airlines from Seattle to Juneau. From there, hire car and ferry or small aircraft to Haines. Where to stay Motel rooms, private apartments and houses can, depending on how well equipped they are, be rented for between US $140 and $1,200 per person per week. Eating out Mosey’s Cantina: Mexican with large portions at OK prices. Bamboo Room: the best fish and chips. Deli at Mountain Market: serves the best coffee. Heliskiing An email three months in advance with the basic details
(number of people, length of stay) to Alaska Heliskiing (email@example.com) is all you need to do to sign up for heliskiing in Haines. Then, you put down a deposit. When to go? Early March to mid-April is the best. If you want to guarantee a full week on the mountain, you should spend a full month there.
Who should I go with? There is no barometer for how good a skier or snowboarder you need to be in order to come to Alaska. As a group will always be taken to one and the same mountain, it makes sense if everyone is at the same level.
How much will it cost? One day with six to 10 helicopter flights costs between $750 and $1,250. What should I take with me? An avalanche alarm, shovel and probe. Powder skis are recommended for skiers. Snowboarders should take slightly longer boards. Also good is an avalanche airbag.
CAnAdA Haines AlASkA
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THE WORLD’S BEST CHEFS
Far out east
WHAT’S ON THE MENU AT HANGAR-7
TIM RAUE How do you get to be the best chef in Berlin? By juggling flavours, particularly Asian ones, like a virtuoso
Tim Raue’s is not the usual back story of a worldclass chef. Born in 1974; he spent some of his childhood with his grandparents, some in Stuttgart with an abusive father and some with his mother living in Berlin’s rough Wrangel neighbourhood. He was part of a gang that settled arguments with baseball bats. He taught himself to cook because he didn’t have the money for cookery school. In 1998, he was marked as one to watch by Der Feinschmecker, a German gourmet food magazine; in 2005, the former rowdy youth was validated by the establishment when Gault Millau, the French restaurant guide that isn’t Michelin, voted him newcomer of the year. Then came his first Michelin star, prestigious positions in prestigious kitchens, a cook book, well-received appearances on German TV, his first restaurant – Tim Raue, which opened in Berlin last September – and a sensational autobiography, I Know What Hunger Is. With 19 Gault Millau points out of a possible 20, Tim Raue and its eponymous chef is ‘officially’ the best restaurant in Berlin. It seems fitting that the title should go to a real Berliner, whose take on Asian cuisine combines elements of Japanese, Thai and Chinese. He once said that eating it is “like ants dancing on your palate” and though he meant well, his food is a thousand times better than his metaphors. Wasabi ice cream, caviar, Thai peas
MY RESTAURANT Restaurant Tim Raue Rudi-Dutschke-Straße 26 10969 Berlin, Germany Tel: +49 30 2 59 3 79 30 www.tim-raue.com The interior make-up of Raue’s place tells a story. The floor of tarmac is a reference to his tough background. The lighting and mood pay tribute to the gallery the space once was. The high-end designer furnishings are a nod in the direction of the modern – a reflection of the cooking.
Flight Path “We chose the hummingbird as the logo for our restaurant because it embodies creativity, uniqueness and freedom, and those are all qualities that inspire us.” Love For Fuel “We only serve dishes full of energy and vitality, food that doesn’t weigh the body down unnecessarily. White sugar, dairy products and gluten are out, and we avoid using sides like bread, pasta and rice.” Eat This “I have no interest in being everybody’s darling. As I wrote in my autobiography, ‘My tastes will never come across as a harmless bit of palate-flattering; they hit you full on in the face.’”
Hangar-7’s Guest Chefs Every month, a leading international 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 February is Tim Raue from Restaurant Tim Raue in Berlin. Find more information on Raue’s menus and other forthcoming guest chefs at Ikarus at www.hangar-7.com. To book a table or make enquiries send an email to ikarus@ hangar-7.com or call +43 662 219 77.
PHOTOGRAPHY: DIRK MATHESIUS/RED BULL HANGAR-7 (3)
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Words: klaus kamolz. PhotograPhy: fotostudio eisenhut & mayer
Stew’s the daddy
cook global let the world be your kitchen
Karjalanpaisti Finland’s favourite hearty stew is a warming treat guaranteed to keep those long, dark winter nights at bay
When the nights in Finland have become cold enough to freeze the balls from the proverbial metallic simian, it’s time to make this Karelian hotpot. The heat-generating properties of Karjalanpaisti, as Finns know this broth in Suomi, the Finnish language, aren’t reliant solely on its ingredients, as it’s also the perfect excuse to knock back a shot or three while the meat braises. This is a long, slow process, but it’s what gives Karjalanpaisti its flavour, with little need for herbs and spices. It’s one of the most beloved dishes in the Karelia region, a stretch of land in the far north divided between Russia and Finland and so beloved that the readers of a Finnish daily once declared it a national dish. It should be made in a pot known as an uuniruukku or potti (no sniggering) and in the past it was reserved for special occasions, as meat was scarce. These days, Finns don’t worry about traditions and they’re happy to enjoy Karjalanpaisti any day of the week.
the recipe Serves four: 500g beef 250g lamb 250g pork 1 calf’s kidney 10 allspice berries
2 bay leaves 2 chopped onions 2tbsp butter 3 diced carrots 2 diced white turnips 125ml beer
Chop the meat into bite-sized chunks (remove the fat from the kidney) and slowly brown in a baking dish with the allspice, bay leaves, onions and butter. Add the carrots and turnips, season with salt, fry a little more, deglaze the pan with beer and add just enough water to cover the contents of the dish. Cook, uncovered, in the oven at 240°C, then cover and leave to stew for approximately three hours at 170°C. Serve with mashed potatoes (and vodka).
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The ice cycle works
FRANKY ZORN The 41-year-old Ice Speedway pro from Saalfelden in Austria is his own manger, mechanic, chauffeur and engineer. We peek into the mechanical heart of his operations
1 Acerbis hand guards Protect the hands against shards of ice. In our sport, regular gloves wouldn’t be nearly good enough. 2 Alpinestars SVX boots The most comfortable boots I know. The specialists at Carbotech made me a light, rigid protector for the left boot – the one that takes the inside of the curve. 3 Honda EU 20i generator To heat and light the tent. This Honda’s as quiet as a whisper, unlike most. That’s a blessing.
Ice and tidy: a spotless garage set-up is essential for a rider who builds the bikes he races
WORDS: WERNER JESSNER. PHOTOGRAPHY: PHILIPP FORSTNER
4 Zorn-built ‘F’ bike I build my own bikes: they’re called the F1 and the F2. The F stands for Franky. I weld the steel frame and remodel the fork myself – the current fork comes from a KTM RC8 road bike – and then I put the jigsaw together. The only thing I get help with is a tuner who helps when it comes to the engine; he’s also involved with Sebastian Vettel’s F1 engine. The single-cylinder Jawa-based motor delivers about 60bhp driving the rear wheel. The racing bike weighs 116kg. It costs about €20,000. 5 Fischer CRS Skating Vasa cross country skis You can’t just go to the gym all the time, especially when there’s a cross-country ski run practically outside my house. In the summer I torture myself with mountain running. 6 WACO race suit It’s not made of leather, as you might expect; it’s made of light, quick-drying nylon. The shoulder, upper arm and left thigh areas are strengthened with aluminium sheets. Those are the areas that come into contact with spikes. 7 Shoei VFX-W helmet I swapped from a road helmet to an enduro helmet and I’ve
never regretted it – although I’ve knocked up an insert to protect against shards of ice and the cold around the nose. 8 Gloryfy GP2 goggles They don’t steam up, even though they’re double-glazed, and they’re indestructible. The tear-off visors make for a clear field of vision during races. 9 Acerbis protection jacket Worn under overalls to protect the upper body in general, particularly the spine. 10 Knee and shin pads I knocked these up myself. I only need them for the left leg, the one on the inside of the lap, as we only go anti-clockwise. 11 Migatronic Pilot 1500 HP welder Electric welding is over; I use a mix of argon and nitrogen. I’ve zapped my motorbikes and most of my workshop equipment with this welder. I’m self-taught, but I did pick up some tips when I was working as a crane operator. 12 Soviet bearskin hat I bought this one in Saransk, the capital of Mordovia. Anyone who’s been to Russia in winter knows why they wear them. 13 Mefo ISW-F spike tyres It takes me three days to drill the 120 (front wheel) and 170 (rear wheel) spikes into the rubber and screw them in. The tyre weighs 4.6kg when it’s ready but the rubber is worn out after a race weekend and the spikes have to be screwed into new tyres. Ice speedway tyres are only perfect once they’ve been stored in the dark and dry conditions of my garage for more than two years. 14 Methanol canister We run on methanol, which is pure alcohol. The tank takes 1.5 litres. www.frankyzorn.at
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Every day isn’t like Sunday How Radka Máchová spends her time preparing between Sunday airshows
Radka keeps calm even under the most intense pressure
WORK OUT TRAINING WITH THE PROS
Flight Stimulator RADKA MÁCHOVÁ Czech stunt flying ace and 63-year-old mother has to stay sharp to lead the Flying Bulls squadron
“My sport isn’t about physical strength,” Radka Máchová explains, “but about experience, precision and making the right decisions quickly.” Four decades of experience – she got her private pilot’s licence in 1971 while studying at the University of Transport in Žilina, Slovakia – mean this 63-year-old mother of two is well-qualified to be squadron leader of the Flying Bulls. But experience alone isn’t enough to withstand the extraordinary physical pressures to which she is exposed in her single-engined Zlín 50LX. There are G-forces of +5/5G, and the upside-down negative-G manoeuvres, in particular, put the cervical spine under enormous pressure. “Swimming and diving training make for a good balance,” says Máchová. “Diving without equipment also helps to improve your orientation in open space.” She also stays fit (in winter) with downhill and cross-country skiing.
Tuesday Up at 8:30am. A 20-min ergometer session is penned in after an ample breakfast. Then all sorts of organisational work, like keeping up to date with my email. In the afternoon, I do between 50 and 80km on either my road bike or inline skates, which takes me somewhere in the region of two hours. Wednesday Up at 8.30am. 15 to 20 mins on the exercise bike, then an hour of fitness training, focusing on the back and arms. Then I plan the next show at my computer, checking the weather forecasts and flight routes, checking the flight documentation, getting the fuel, checking the local aviation regulations in the relevant country. In the afternoon, I do a one- to two-hour biking session in Prague or an hour of swimming in the evening. Thursday Up at 8.30am. Back to the computer after a short session on my exercise bike, working out the best flight routes, confirming flights, identifying an alternative aerodrome and flight routes, getting the flight tickets. Then I pack my luggage, which usually includes flight documentation, camera and laptop. In the afternoon I head to our base
Precision Work Radka Máchová puts her faith in experience, her colleagues and the uplifting effect of a not-altogether unfamiliar drink “It’s thanks to consistent hard work that the show looks so playfully simple up there in the sky,” she notes. Experience and total confidence in your partner are basic requirements in formation aerobatics, because when the planes are flying in such close formation, even the slightest mistake could have fatal consequences. But Radka finds transfer flights in bad weather more stressful than most aerobatic routines. And, as an expert, does she have a secret recipe for combating flight sickness? “Only take on small amounts of things like cheese, yoghurt and tomato juice for the last couple of hours before a flight. And drink a lot – especially on long-haul flights. My tipple is three parts water to one part Red Bull.”
AcilThe ulluptation henim Flying Bulls estsquadron modigna et lam num
at Jaromer Airport before evening training with the whole formation – including stand-in pilots. This is where we go over new parts of the show. The training is recorded and analysed. There’s a maintenance check once the planes are cleaned. Friday Up at 7am. More formation training, depending on how long the connecting flight to the airshow airport is. Then the planes are checked and refuelled ready for departure and any necessary spare parts are stowed on board. Staff are on standby at their destination and they take them to the hangar. Saturday Up at 7am. Transfer from the hotel to the aerodrome, where I check the petrol and oil for the smoke system. Then we meet the show organiser. This is when we get information on the flight area, the minimum flying height, communication systems, current weather data and exactly when our show will be taking place. Sunday The morning is similar to a Saturday. The show’s in the afternoon and once it’s finished we prepare for the transfer flight home. After landing at Jaromer Airport, the planes are cleaned and taken to the hangar. Then we are briefed and given an early run-through of the next show.
WORDS: ULRICH CORAZZA. PHOTOGRAPHY: CORNELIUS BRAUN/RED BULL CONTENT POOL, BERNHARD SPÖTTEL/RED BULL CONTENT POOL
Monday My day off. I sleep in till 10am and then take it easy, sleeping, eating and getting my flying suit ready for the next airshow.
woRkplace to woRkout. it takes bottle.
Long days at work are mentally and physically draining
professional like them or amateur like us) extra energy
(which is the polite way of saying ‘an enormous pain
before, during and after sport. Which makes our new
in the backside’). So it’s the easiest thing in the world
plastic bottle the ideal companion for your workout.
to dodge the gym afterwards. Happy hour anyone?
It provides that all-important extra motivation to get
This is where Red Bull Energy Drink comes in. It’s
you to the gym, extra reps while you’re there, and extra
been specifically developed to give athletes (whether
get-up-and-go to give the rest of your evening wings.
New. Resealable wiNgs.
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OUT NOW ESSENTIAL LISTENING
LOCH LOMOND If anyone needs convincing that YouTube changes music careers for more than just five minutes, take heed of the tale of Loch Lomond
Dance like an Egyptian
BEST CLUBS PARTY THE WORLD OVER
TAMARAI, CAIRO Oriental influences seep into the deep house vibe at Egypt’s most exclusive club, where clubbers party next to a glorious vista of city rooftops and the mighty Nile
The club’s name means… Lotus flower in Tamil. When we first opened in 2009, we wanted… To open the first club in central Cairo with international flair, innovative design and excellent food on offer. But without sacrificing any important aspects of the Egyptian culture. From the outside, Tamarai looks like... A very large roof terrace on one of the most prominent buildings in the whole of Cairo. Our club offers a breathtaking view across city-centre neon and the Nile. On the dancefloor you’ll find papyrus plants and olive trees. Our regular customers are... The city’s young and hip trend-setting scenesters.
In a film, our club would remind you of... Fergie’s dance scene in the 2009 movie Nine. Things really get going at... Midnight. The perfect drink to get the night started is... An All Nighter: we make it with Cointreau, Galliano, Red Bull and strawberry liqueur. Our club is full when... There are around 1,000 people having fun dancing. The latest freak-out dance track at Tamarai is… Sexy And I Know It by LMFAO. Get your late-night munchies at… The Maison Thomas pizzeria in the Zamalek district. A taxi to the city centre costs... Next to nothing. 20 Egyptian pounds (around €2). Radwa Awad, marketing manager at Tamarai Tamarai Restaurant & Bar Nile City Towers, 3rd floor, Beaulac Cairo, Egypt Tel: +2 0122 456 6666 www.tamarai-egypt.com
Lead singer Ritchie Young (far left) with other Loch Lomond-ites
WORDS: ANDREAS TZORTZIS, FLORIAN OBKIRCHER. PHOTOGRAPHY: LEME LEME (1)
You’ll find olive trees on the dancefloor at Egyptian club Tamarai
An indie-folk outfit a lifetime to sell with a rotating cast of that many. He’s the players, Loch Lomond best thing to have were just another happened to us. “obscure indie band” How many people in Portland, Oregon, have played in Wax And Wire a US town “with a Loch Lomond? million obscure indie was used on a I think what kills bands”, according to trials bike video a band is having a leader Ritchie Young. set group of people Then, Scottish trials biker and someone gets mad Danny MacAskill asked to that another member has use the song Wax And Wire slept with someone else’s in his video Way Back girlfriend. So we designed Home. Thus soundtracked, it so that our friends could the clip garnered worldwide come in and out. We’ve had attention after its online 34 people on tour with us. debut in November 2010 So who gets to go on (it’s now at 16m views the really cool tours? and rising). All of a sudden, Touring the US is fun, but Loch Lomond had fans there’s a lot of distance to in Israel and Egypt and cover, so going to Europe is sold-out dates in Europe. like a reward for working in : How the States. Most of us would important was the rather be in Ghent, Belgium, Danny MacAskill video than Phoenix, Arizona. to your popularity? We’re all friends so we’ll : We’re have a beer and work it out. known in Portland, but it’s hard to get anyone else to Loch Lomond have gigs in the pay attention. Since the Netherlands and Germany this video, we’ve had well over month, and France in March. 150,000 copies of that song www.facebook.com/ sold. It would’ve taken us lochlomondmusic
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Electro-pop pair, Air, are Nicolas Godin (left) and Jean-Benoît Dunckel (right)
TAKE FIVE THE MUSIC THAT INFLUENCED THE STARS
“The 1980s never sounded better than John Carpenter made them sound”
WORDS: FLORIAN OBKIRCHER. PHOTOGRAPHY: WENDY BEVAN
AIR Having created an all-new soundtrack for a legendary 110-year-old film, the French duo talk us through some of the movie music that made them drop their popcorn
The charm of old science-fiction movies, the elegance of Scandinavian design, the melancholy of a rainy Sunday afternoon. You’ll find all that and more in Air’s music. The French pair of Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoît Dunckel made a big impact with their debut album Moon Safari (1998), a gentle, electronic cosmos that comes across like the soundtrack to a ’60s flick that never got made. That’s no coincidence, given their affinity for film music. Air went on to collaborate with film director Sofia Coppola, supplying the score for The Virgin Suicides (1999) and a song for Lost In Translation (2003). The duo’s latest album was commissioned by the French Film Museum: a soundtrack for a restored version of Georges Méliès’ 1902 silent short, Le Voyage Dans La Lune (A Trip To The Moon), known as the first sci-fi film and as influential today as it was then. “We love the film,” says Godin, “because there’s something magical about it. The music almost wrote itself. It’s very psychedelic, in the style of The Beatles or Their Satanic Majesties Request by The Rolling Stones. It worked well, because Paris then must have had the same sense of optimism that London did in the ’60s.” Here Godin picks the soundtracks that turned him from movie-buff into composer.
Johnny Guitar (1954) I was very young when I first saw this Western; I might have only been five. I was especially struck by the theme tune, to the point where I asked my father to teach it to me on the guitar. It’s my earliest musical memory. I had a set of kids’ drums before that, but it doesn’t count. My parents told me I just used to thrash around on them and that my brother wanted to kill me. So they were happy that this got me interested in the guitar.
Bullitt (1968) I love the car chase in this film, especially the sound of the squealing tyres. I tried to copy that sound in our piece, Cosmic Trip, on the Le Voyage Dans La Lune soundtrack. It sounds like a car is drifting round a bend at full force. On top of that, Lalo Schifrin’s jazzy music for the film grooves like hell. It builds slowly and keeps on building until it explodes at the climax. It’s like a violent orgasm.
Planet Of The Apes (1968) Charlton Heston, Dr Zaius and the Statue of Liberty, of course. When I watched the film for the first time as a kid, I was shocked and fascinated. That was also down to the soundtrack, with the crazy sounds which Jerry Goldsmith created using an instrument called a waterphone: a piece of stainless steel with a resonating bowl in the middle. The sounds it makes are eerie.
Escape From New York (1981) I was still too young to go and see this film in the cinema when it came out, so I had to tell a lie when I bought my ticket, but it was well worth it. The soundtrack to this film, by director John Carpenter, initiated my love of old synthesisers and is why my studio today is piled high with all kinds of Korgs, Moogs and other analogue keyboards. The 1980s never sounded better than in this film. We took a lot from Carpenter when we were composing our soundtrack to The Virgin Suicides.
Safe (1995) This is a film from the 1990s that I really love. Set in 1987, it’s about a woman, played by Julianne Moore, who develops a maniacal fear of bacteria that causes her to withdraw into herself more and more to the point where she finally moves to a quasi-religious New Age retreat in the desert. The soundtrack sounds very threatening and atmospheric, with lots of broad, abstract synthesiser walls, like the director Michael Mann uses in his films, and like the synth sounds that we like to use ourselves in our pieces.
Le Voyage Dans La Lune (EMI) is out now: www.aircheology.com
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World in Action February 2012
A GLOBAL ROUND-UP OF SOME OF OUR FAVOURITE THINGS TAKING PLACE OVER THE NEXT FEW WEEKS
08-11.02.2012, BARCELONA, SPAIN
Catalonia’s first city is also Europe’s party capital, thanks to summer festivals such as Sónar and Primavera, which entice music fans from all over. Come winter there’s MUTEK, a transatlantic jolly for Canada’s premier electro music festival. Multifaceted musicians including German orchestralmeets-techno outfit Brandt Brauer Frick and British dubstep deities Shakleton join major local talents in a variety of venues, and The Red Bull Music Academy joins the party with its own stage and workshops.
24–26.02.2012, VIKERSUND, NORWAY
FIS Ski-Jumping World Championships The Vikersundbakken, the world’s largest ski-jumping hill, is feared and revered in equal measure, making it the perfect setting for the 2012 World Championships. It’s the fourth time the 225m white beast of a hill has played host in its 50-year history in the sport, and will see over 25,000 spectators pack the foot of the course to watch the battle between such greats as Swiss title-defender Simon Ammann, 2008 world champion and hot Austrian favourite Gregor Schlierenzauer and Norway’s excellent Johan Remen Evensen, who beat the beast last year, setting a world record of 246.5m in the process.
Brandt Brauer Frick: hand-made techno
12.02.2012, FORT CANNING, SINGAPORE
St Jerome’s Laneway Festival The event that started out in 2004 as a small underground indie-rock festival is now all grown up and flirting with the mainstream. St Jerome’s Laneway, once a disorganised gathering in Melbourne’s backstreets, has become a touring festival with seven stops, five in its home nation, one in New Zealand and, since last year, a stopover in Singapore. This year Feist, Austra, M83, The Drums and other indie heroes will be making the journey to this huge underground party.
ASP (Women’s) World Tour
It’s back to work time for pro surfers as their winter break draws to a close. The season gets under way on the Australian coast with the Quiksilver Pro for the men and the Roxy Pro for the women. Last year, American star surfer Kelly Slater laid foundations for his 11th World Championship title here at Snapper Rocks, but now needs to watch out for 2010 winner Taj Burrow in home waters. In the women’s championship, Carissa Moore’s win here paved the way for her to become the youngest ever champion of the ASP Women’s World Tour, a start she’ll be hoping to repeat.
26.02.2012, PHILLIP ISLAND, AUSTRALIA
FIM Superbike World Championship
25.02– 07.03.2012, QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA
The 2012 motorsport season is revving to go, and, as 25-year-old tradition dictates, the Superbike World Championship is in pole position to start it off. The hunt for the crown of title-holder Carlos Checa, the first ever Spanish Superbike World Champion, gets underway on the 4.445km course on Phillip Island, about 120km south-east of Melbourne.
Gregor Schlierenzauer is out to claim a second title
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28.02– 02.03.2012 MUSKAT, OMAN
Extreme Sailing Series When these 20m-tall extreme 40 catamarans go hull-to-hull at speeds of up to 75kph, it’s clear how the series got its name. This year’s racing calendar has eight regattas for the 13m-long vessels, starting, as in 2011, in the topographically varied Sultanate of Oman. At the end of last season the Red Bull Extreme Sailing Team, based around skipper Roman Hagara, was getting ever closer to the top. This year, the two-time Olympic goldmedal-winner in tornado sailing is confident of securing his first Extreme Sailing Series victory.
PHOTOGRAPHY: HARRY WEBER (1), GETTY IMAGES (3), ANDREAS SCHAAD/RED BULL CRASHED ICE (1), RUTGER PAUW/RED BULL CONTENT POOL (1)
Samba the night away at the famous Rio Carnival
18.02.2012 INAZAWA, JAPAN
Hadaka Matsuri Hadaka Matsuri is Japanese for Naked Festival. Every year in February, 9,000 men descend on the small town of Inazawa to wander through the snow, not quite naked but wearing only small loincloths or a happi coat. This Shinto tradition began in 767 AD when it was decided that if the sparsely clad men touched the spiritual leader of the celebration, the shin-otoko (man of God), he would absorb all their impurities, bad deeds and misfortune, thus guaranteeing a happy year ahead.
18.02.2012, ÅRE, SWEDEN
Red Bull Crashed Ice World Championship The Red Bull Crashed Ice World Championship returns to Sweden – its birthplace – for this, the third stop on the season calendar. This time round, the Ice Cross Downhill competition will be held in the well-known ski resort of Åre, rather than in Stockholm as it was in its inaugural year. Frenetic, gutsy battles are guaranteed on the super-fast ice course which is peppered with a series of steep bends and obstacles, much to the joy of the thousands of excited spectators looking on.
26.02.2012, KODAK THEATRE, HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA, USA
84th Academy Awards
February brings the most important night in the film calendar. There were no prizes for presenting offered to the youthful hosts of last year’s Oscars Anne Hathaway and James Franco who, it was almost universally agreed, were a bit ‘meh’. So this year, the Academy has reverted to the tried and tested approach, inviting veteran actor Billy Crystal back to the stage for a ninth time to host the 2012 ceremony.
The Red Bull Extreme Sailing Team heads to Oman
18– 21.02.2012, SAMBADROME, RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL
Carnaval do Rio Samba, sequins and skimpy costumes signal the start of the world’s biggest party, and the annual crowning of ‘King Momo’ by the mayor of the city. Millions of revellers flood the streets of Rio each February for the carnival and watch the 13 best samba schools show off their skills, with up to 5,000 of them spread over meticulously decorated themed floats. They have 60 minutes to impress the public and the judges at the huge Sambódromo stadium, which has been renovated for 2012 to hold in excess of 90,000 spectators.
Arttu Pihlainen (right) will vie for victory in Åre
Billy Crystal presents the Oscars once again
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Save the Date
February & March COMING SOON TO THE UK AND IRELAND: CATWALKS, CATERWAULS, CYCLE PATHS AND SOCIAL GATHERINGS
Sounds great Olympics here she comes: Victoria Pendleton FEBRUARY 17-19
On track It’s hard to remember when the phrase ‘London 2012’ wasn’t deeply ingrained in a nation’s psyche, such has been the long build-up to this feted time and place. This year, every pre-Games sporting event will have Olympic significance, some more deserved than others. As part of the London Prepares series of events, a pre-Olympic test run, the UCI Track Cycling World Cup final will be the first event in the new 6,000-seater velodrome in the Olympic Park in east London. Leading cyclists from over 30 countries, including Team GB Beijing 2008 Olympic gold medallists Sir Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton, will get a valuable chance to test out the new track and earn even more valuable Olympic qualification points. www.londonpreparesseries.com
Adele: Brits’ best ever performance?
Style council London Fashion Week is a fast-forward to the autumn/winter 2012 season, a glimpse as to whether the next trends will be tartan onesies or brocaded jodhpurs. An atmosphere of repressed frenzy is guaranteed, as fashionistas hide their excitement behind Gucci shades and iPads a-blogging. As part of the inagural Red Bull Catwalk Studio project, musician Charli XCX will soundtrack designer Fred Butler’s collection. With Stella McCartney returning to London after a 10-year sojourn at Paris Fashion Week, and
shows from British favourites such as Christopher Kane (above), Burberry under Christopher Bailey and, for the first time, Alexander McQueen’s diffusion line McQ, all signs are pointing towards another top LFW. www.redbull.co.uk/catwalkstudio
WORDS: RUTH MORGAN, PAUL WILSON. PHOTOGRAPHY: GETTY IMAGES (2), REX FEATURES (1), UNIVERSAL MUSIC (1)
Nine days after the Grammy Awards (see page 36), the British record industry assembles for its annual hurrah. It isn’t that long ago that the Brits was more white elephant than white hot, an awards ceremony marred by a string of dodgy presenters, curious award choices and baffling live performances. Those days appear to be over, with last year’s ceremony notable for host James Corden’s restrained turn and Adele’s YouTube-meltingly brilliant performance of Someone Like You – a show-stopper which played no small part in her subsequent worldwide mega-success. In 2012, Corden returns, Emeli Sandé already has the star-of-the-future Critics’ Choice award (which Adele won in 2008) and legendary British pop artist Sir Peter Blake has designed the trophies.
Renaissance woman Florence And The Machine’s European tour begins at The O2 Dublin next month, with the band likely raring to go after a month’s rest following appearances at southern hemisphere summer festivals in Brazil and Japan. Raring is what Florence Welch does best: she’s a Victorian poet’s muse crossed with an Ibiza-hit frontwoman. Her Kate Bush-meets-Stevie Nicks vocals are as beguiling live as they are on record, and the Machine backing her aren’t too shabby on stage, either. Whether the band has increased standing on Ceremonials, their second album after the award-winning and till-ringing 2008 debut Lungs, is a moot point: this show is absolutely worth buying a ticket for. www.florenceandthemachine.net
spent New Year in a lonely modernist house in Cornwall. It was quite close to Padstow, but happily remote enough from the fish-based kitsch – perhaps we should call it fitsch – which Rick Stein has injected into the whole area, for a sense of proportion to remain. Once happily unmolested and near dereliction, Padstow now exists in a sickly, swirling bouillon of branded fudge and masterpiece fish ’n’ chips. It has been revived into a gaily painted corpse of a place. Be that as it may, in early January there were storm-force winds blowing along the coast. The house might have been built of unyielding concrete, but one morning you could feel an unnerving flutter. It was as if the ancient environment was having its revenge on our 21st century intrusion. Across the water, if the visibility were ever to improve, we might have seen St Enodoc where John Betjeman, Cornwall’s protective bard, is buried. From beyond the grave, I reckoned we could hear him guffawing a sarcastic “I told you so”. These apocalyptic circumstances got me thinking of the future. My concerns are based in the familiar dimensions of the everyday. I am fascinated by the fact that, of all consumer products, only wristwatches are getting larger. A generation ago, a Rolex seemed almost outrageously chunky. But nowadays, to be heroic, you need a watch with a diameter of 48mm. And you need, for the final authentic touch, to pretend to be a diver for the Marina Militare, or an astronaut. I heard a watch specialist say there was no end to this pattern of enlargement. But what curious images come to mind when that thought is considered. Wristwatches as big as satellite dishes? This is ever more strange because the wristwatch was one of the first products to be commercially miniaturised: pocket watches were first strapped onto wrists for ergonomic convenience during The Great War. And what product is going to get giganticism next? Consumer behaviour is irrational
The Future Is Now The glittering promise of what’s to come may not be all that, muses Stephen Bayley and I predict the return of gramophones in brown wood cabinets the size of coffins. This reverie was illuminated by a more technically focused report on the future by Bernard Meyerson, IBM’s Veep of Innovation. Winding my 48mm Panerai with antique four-day power reserve, which I should ideally use when travelling on my miniature submarine in a Maltese dockyard, I consider Bernie’s predictions. He says energy will be harvested from the liquids (best not to think about them) that travel through subterranean pipes (or from footfalls on pavements). This is good stuff, Bernie, although I am guessing the infrastructure costs might be uneconomic. Still, I have always suspected that for so long as the earth is turning, we have a reliable source of energy. And as soon as it stops turning, we will have more to be worried about than kilowatt hours. Of more immediate interest is the idea that those infuriating PINs and passwords will become our pocket watches: antiques. Unique biometric data will be scanned and we will no longer need to remember our mother’s maiden name. Next up? We will have implanted sensors in our brains
allowing remote thought control. (In the ’80s McDonnell Douglas contemplated such a thing for its F-16 pilots: a helmet would ‘read’ electrical brain activity and fire missiles on the basis of a passing thought. I look forward with grave humour to how this technology might helpfully be applied to the mass market. It will only take one intoxicated larrikin on Ryanair to think of Flaps to Zero and your holiday will be prematurely ended.) Smartphones? These will become globally ubiquitous and contain advanced translation software so the sole remaining language barrier will be one of style, not of content. People in Baku will be able to drivel at people in Birmingham. And these phones will fully enable intelligent shopping: the idea of a retailer having a building with ‘stock’ will seem pointlessly quaint. Until your lithium battery dies or you drop your Apple product in the bath. You can take this all further. Surely we will soon all be given a smartphone at birth? Under Darwinian evolutionary instructions, future generations will develop marsupial pouches for SIMs. Art galleries will charge not for admission, but for the amount of derivative thinking you do while visiting an exhibition. Already, my car recognises speed limits and adapts. Soon, it will read road signs. Holidays? Why bother? Everything can be simulated, so stay at home and do remote thought control. Padstow can come to you. Is this a brave new world or a rather tedious one? I look at photographs of the first science fiction conference in 1937. Tweedy chaps with pipes strike ironicscholarly poses before a large format camera – 35mm was not yet popular. Still less, digital. Had they glimpsed the future? Yes, but not the right half of it. You know, Bernie, the only certain thing about predictions is that they are all wrong. Stephen Bayley is an award-winning writer and a former director of the Design Museum in London
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