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Dispatches : Surfing

Surfer Stephanie Gilmore on Winning Her Fifth World Title

WaveAt work. Photo: Quiksilver

This past July, 24-year-old Australian Stephanie Gilmore clinched her fifth world title when she won the Roxy Pro Biarritz, the penultimate ASP event of the year. The victory signaled a comeback. Gilmore won the world title every year from 2007 to 2010, but lost her crown in 2011. In December of 2010, she was the victim of a brutal attack outside her Coolangatta, New South Wales, apartment that left her with a cut on the back of her head and a broken wrist. She was out of the water for eight weeks, but it took her a bit longer to recover mentally and emotionally. Early in 2012, one brief moment inspired her to go after the world title with everything she had. We called her up to talk about that moment, and whether she thinks she can eclipse the all-time ASP title records held by Layne Beachley and Kelly Slater.

What was the difference between this year and last year?
It was a pretty big transition year for me. I had a lot going on. I got injured. I changed sponsorships. My heart wasn’t 100 percent in it. I think there were a lot of factors. Last year was the first year I didn’t win the title, and to actually experience that, and to experience not having the spotlight on me, as egotistical as that sounds, was pretty heartbreaking. So this year I came out and wanted to surf really strong, and have that confidence back. It took a little bit of time, but I feel like I just had a different frame of mind. I wanted it pretty badly.

You mentioned the injury from the attack in Coolangatta. Was there a mental element to recovering from that?
Yeah, I mean, physically the human body will heal as quick as it can if you’re doing everything right, but it was sort of the emotional journey that was the hardest. I think that even still, I mean, I’ll probably forever, at some level, have to try and get over the attack. I think that it’s part of the journey. It’s embracing it and moving on. But, yeah, I do think that last year there was a lot more of an emotional sort of torrent that I was trying to work my way through, and then compete at the same time. It was probably the biggest hurdle that I had to get over and it was probably why winning the world title back this year was just so much more rewarding than the first one.

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Make or Break at the Billabong Pro Tahiti

Earlier today, the ASP decided on the final two wildcard spots in the Billabong Pro Tahiti. Brazilian Ricardos Dos Santos and local Alain Riou earned the right to surf the famous barrels of Teahupoo in one of the biggest ASP events of the year. The two qualifiers will now square off against the top two seeds, Kelly Slater and Joel Parkinson, in the opening round.

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Adventure Video of the Week: The Fruits of Dystopia

This film is about escaping from the daily grind to have some fun—that's it. Don't stress if you don't quite get the meaning of the quotes from 1984, A Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451, or if you don't understand the exact reason for the shots of power lines, ants, and grubs. There is a reason Cyrus Sutton has included all of those dystopian elements in his beautiful edit, but the shift from people driving through the city to surfing waves and skating in parks is enough to make the point. Go out and enjoy yourself.

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Galleries We Like: Surfing the Canary Islands

8_surf - 07Surfing the Canary Islands. Photo: Guillermo Cervera

Guillermo Cervera first fell in love with photography when he discovered a box of Playboys his father brought home from the United States. “They were beautiful color pictures, and I looked at them when my father wasn’t home,” he said in an interview published by The New York Times Lens blog in 2011. “Then my father learned what I was doing and he emptied the box of Playboys and replaced them with National Geographic.”

Photography was his father’s hobby, and Cervera took to it. “I used to cover all of my books for school with National Geographic,” he says. “I always wanted to be a photographer, but I studied engineering in the United States.”

His father pushed him away from chasing a career as a lensman. “His way of thinking was, if you don’t study something important, you will be nothing," Cervera says. "Photography is nothing, so that’s how he thinks.”

GCervera_Libya_War - 02Libya, 2011. Photo: Guillermo Cervera

A girlfriend bought him a camera in college, and, against his father’s wishes, he followed his passion. In the last two decades, he hasn’t stopped shooting. He's taken assignments in Afghanistan and Sudan, and was not far from photographer Chris Hondros and Tim Hetherington when a mortar shell exploded and killed them in Libya in 2011. At least once a year, he takes a break to shoot surfing and refresh his mind. To find out more, I called the 43-year-old in Spain a day after he flew home from a two-week surfing shoot in Indonesia, an assignment he took after working on a much longer project in Afghanistan.

How did you get your first job?
I was probably 22 or 23. I had a friend who really wanted to do a story for a magazine about the war in Bosnia. It was 1992 or '93. One day he called me in the morning and he told me, Oh, you know how to take pictures. Why don’t we go together to Bosnia and do a story—freelance. We were really young. Nobody wanted to write us a letter to get into this area, but we made the trip. One magazine told us if we could get in, they would buy the story, so we went to Bosnia. That’s the first thing I did.

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