UnBRAKEable, Patrick Seabase

A two-wheel surfer, a pilgrim of the Alps portrayed by the photos and words of Phil Gale

A raindrop falls, landing on a mountain pass. By chance, it lands exactly at the summit. The ensuing splash sees part of it drain down one side of the pass, and the rest down the opposite. At the exact same time a cyclist rides through the light shower, passing from Southern Europe to Northern Europe, crossing the alps for the second time that day, oblivious that these droplets of rain landing as he passes are being split, one part now draining to the North Sea, the other to the Adriatic. But that is the thing about riding in the mountains: if you don’t take the time to look around, and gain an in-depth knowledge of the giants that you’re riding through, you miss the majority of the story.

And that story is one that lies at the heart of this fixed gear track bike rider from Bern, Patrick Seabase. A story of the mountains and how they are central to what he does. But at the same time a story linked to the history of these high rocky outcrops, because they are equally as oblivious to the drops of water as they are the passing of man.

3am, Innertkirchen Dorf, Canton Bern. Silently, Patrick readies himself for the ride ahead. He checks the chain tension of his fixed gear track bike, turns on his lights, and heads onto Grimselstrasse. His support car pulls out seconds later. The town watches these moments unfold with a silent passive dominance. The slumber of its residence bears down on those present.

There is tension within the group, surely due to what lies ahead rather than the unseen sleeping spectators. 333km with close to 8500 metres of climbing, on a route that crosses the Alps twice, jumping between North and South Europe, passing through cultures, languages and climate zones. Patrick, as always, would be doing all of this on two wheels, with one gear, no brakes, and no freewheel.

When you think of Switzerland, one of the first images that will come to mind are mountains. This small country sits not only at the centre of Europe, but also at the heart of the Alps. With a spine of rocky monoliths running through it, there is no wonder that its history is so steeped in these high peaks. From local farmers to energy companies, military strategists to athletes, mountains are the unnoticed dominant force here.

Mountains are also something that are central to Patrick, an ex-pro skater who is known for his escapades in them on his fixed gear track bike. Don’t let the thought of a fixie turn you off, leading you to conclude that he is a hipster-esque character, or, even worse, an Instagramer. That would be to sell this polymath far too short.

When you think of Switzerland, one of the first images that will come to mind are mountains. This small country sits not only at the centre of Europe, but also at the heart of the Alps. With a spine of rocky monoliths running through it, there is no wonder that its history is so steeped in these high peaks. From local farmers to energy companies, military strategists to athletes, mountains are the unnoticed dominant force here.

Mountains are also something that are central to Patrick, an ex-pro skater who is known for his escapades in them on his fixed gear track bike. Don’t let the thought of a fixie turn you off, leading you to conclude that he is a hipster-esque character, or, even worse, an Instagramer. That would be to sell this polymath far too short.

Grimsel Pass: Moving through the darkness of the early morning, the climb seemingly passes in a moment, almost as though the energy of the night had dragged Patrick to the summit. The lower, wilder and humid sections gave way to the man-made structures, so common a sight on this ascent. Tunnels gave off their tungsten glow, almost chasing away the chill of the night dropping down from the mountains that surround this pass.

When you talk about this iconic climb you can’t miss one thing: energy. Though used as far back as the Roman times, today this areas water drainage is the reason why the Kraftwerke Oberhasli is so linked to this location. Dams, reservoirs and a massive network of underground tunnels make the road what it is today. Why? Because the summit marks the convergence of two drainage basins, the Northern slope run down to the Rhine and via the source of the Aare river, whilst the South side drains to the Rhone. It is this movement of water that generates the hydroelectric energy created by KWO.

Something potentially overlooked by those who climb the pass, this drainage has shaped the road as we know it today. The enduring image of Patrick’s single light trail passing below the main dam, lit like a James Bond villain’s hideout as the 24-hour shift kept working testament to this. The lone rider once again passes through the landscape, skirting past the deep black pools of water, unseen, unnoticed, because life continues in the mountains. The rich hues of browns, greys and burnt greens at the summit are unseen in the darkness, the Alpenflage of this pass affected by the extreme climates it faces year-round. All these elements were unseen, but their ambience was felt through the night.

Simplon Pass: As a road this location holds a long history with Patrick. Second up on his ride, it was climbed after dawn had broken. With the sunlight streaming into the valley below, the lower steep sections were soon ticked off, leaving us to look down on the city of Brig below. As ever the high peaks surrounding this road towered over us with a dominant force, and, as ever, once through the first set of tunnels the real mood of this road was felt.

The Simplon Pass is of huge economic importance to the region, because it links Southern Switzerland with Northern Italy, so the road is large and normally full of traffic. From an aesthetic standpoint, the Simplon Pass sits at the junction of imposing nature and massive engineering. High, twisted outcrops of rock, blend into the more organic curves of the pastures closer to the road. These forms are interspersed with the hard lines of human engineering. From the Ganter Bridge to the numerous tunnels, the road’s trajectory is set in such a way as to maximise the chance that humans might have at defeating winter’s cold grip, as this road needs to stay open year-round. The line of tarmac taking such a direction as to almost complement the formations of rock that surround it.

Patrick’s passage was occasionally an inconvenience to the traffic, but at most it was a small dot in the history of this region. He was yet another person darting through the jagged gorges on the Italian side of the pass, that could be classed as the definition of a natural border.

Gotthard Pass: After a short journey in Italy, passing Centovalli and the long drag through almost the entire length of Switzerland’s Italian-speaking canton, Ticino, the real crux of Patrick’s route was now on the horizon. Three massive passes starting with the fortress of a mountain that sits below the Gotthard Pass. Having past bastions of religion and mass transit en-route, huge road bridges and even bigger tunnel entrances, the Gotthard Pass, via the Tremola, takes you back into nature. It is only the garrison seen upon exiting Airolo that hints to the bunker hidden within this mountain. Touted as one of the most strategic places in Switzerland, there are very few signs that this was once part of the WWII Redut for this country’s military.

The cobbled Tremola snakes its way up to the pass, where thanks to the conditions of the day we are reminded once again that we are crossing between two climates, as an icy northerly wind cuts down from high. Statues at the summit remember a time that once was; monuments to an epoch when the mountains were feared, the hostilities and risks of life up high reserved for hardy shepherds, mule train drivers looking to make their fortunes, and evil spirits.

For the first time during Patrick’s ride we get a hint of traditional mountain life. Where those living in these high pastures adhered to rules that are generations old. Wood stacked as it has been for centuries, the elements as unpredictable as ever. The only change being the ease with which these areas can be reached. But as the day started to close out and the sun sank low in the sky, we were left here with little company other than the mountains looking down on us, as they had done all day and through all the ages.

Furka Pass: Arguably the most remote and least adapted road on the route. Following the valley that heads West from Andermatt this feels like a location for locals only. Narrow and without a guard rail it teases you with its first few hairpins, before dragging on for what seems a lifetime, slowly taking you to its pass, after traversing some very rural villages.

This road harks back to a different time, when alpinism and the natural world were not what they are today. Closed hotels by the roadside monuments to travel via buses, where the rich would come to see the mountains from these extreme roads. Today, thanks to climate change, the most spectacular sight of this road – the Gletsch Glacier – has retreated. But we were not here for tourist shots. As night arrived and the mist fell, Patrick was focused on closing out his loop.

Oberaaresee 10.20pm: It was only fitting that Patrick’s route would finish at the source of the Aare river. For this Bern native, the Aare cutting its deep blue loop around the Swiss Capital is hard to miss. Now enveloped in black, the narrow road to the Oberaarsee meandered along the side of the crest, heading to the basin where the highest dam of the KWO system is found.

Patrick lit, by his support car, continued pedalling, in such darkness, the aesthetic was now gone; it was just the ambient and athletic side of his endeavour to feed us. Normally surrounded by the same Alpenflage colourway found at the close by Grimsel pass, we could see nothing, but our senses were attuned to the presence of the mountains around us.

Rolling through the mist, the endeavour of Patrick the athlete came to an end. The numbers collated and the goal achieved. But for something like this, as with any ride by Patrick, it’s not just about the sporting aspect, because like a big wave surfer without waves, this fixed gear cyclist’s feats are integrally linked to the locations where they are done. It is that collision of environment, aesthetics, ambient and athletics that make Patrick Seabase a true individual in the world of two wheeled sporting endeavours.

Credits

Athlete Patrick Seabase
IG @patrickseabase

Ph & Text by Phil Gale
IG @1_in_the_gutter
philgaleportfolio.com


Play Torball

A photographic journey into the most popular sport among Italian blind people

Not all sports for disabled people become part of the Paralympic program, including Torball, the most popular sport for the blind in Italy. The game involves two teams, each consisting of 3 players. The teams face each other on a playing field 16 meters long and 7 meters wide, divided by three stretched cords equipped with bells at a height of 40cm from the ground.

The Torball involves the use of a spherical ball of 500 grams. Inside this ball there are metal hemispheres: the sound and the trajectory of the ball are perceived and intuited by the players. The players (who are totally blind or visually impaired) are equipped with an eye patch that completely obscures the view and as a reference point they have a mat.

The object of the game is to throw the ball with your hands towards the opponent’s goal to score. If the ball touches the cords a foul is committed. The player who committed the foul is forced out momentarily and the opposing team has a free kick. Three fouls result in a penalty.

The match lasts 10 minutes and is divided into two halves. The team that scores the most goals is obviously the winner. Although the cousin Goalball is a Paralympic sport, Torball is much more widespread in Italy. There are 3 leagues: Serie A, Serie B and Serie C.

This is mainly due to the fact that Goalball requires large infrastructures to set up the pitch, while Torball is usually played in Italian school gyms and does not require large economic investments.

The sports club of the ITALIAN UNION BLIND of Turin has been trying to win the Scudetto for years. A goal that this sports club came particularly close to in 2015, when the team finished the season in second place. While all other sports have been adapted to people with disabilities and always require the assistance of a guide or assistant (running, cycling, football, etc …), Torball is the only sport created specifically for blind people and allows them complete autonomy. This factor, in addition to the spectacular nature of the game itself, makes the practice of Torball interesting and stimulating.

Not even to say the sport for many disabled children turns out to be a salvation, a second life capable of creating strong emotions, adrenaline and human bonds. Fortunately, thanks to the progress of medicine, there are fewer and fewer blind people in Italy. For this reason, Torball is a sport that is gradually becoming less and less played and perhaps destined to disappear.

Credits

Ph & Text by Alessandro De Bellis / REFEstudio
IG @alessandro_debellis
IG @refe_studio

Work subject team POLISPORTIVA U.I.C.I Torino


Youth in the Mediterranean: The Rowers

Maturing in the water, not only as athletes, thanks to the right leader

Glauco Canalis’ reportage has the flavor of fatigue and personal growth. It’s a photographic journey on the threshold of the Mediterranean sea: on the waves painted by vascular arms, by a coach-mentor and by teenagers looking for a reason to improve as athletes, as men. Good vision.

This story is an extension of my ongoing research on youth in the Mediterranean. This time the focus is on the rowers: a tribe of blossoming teenagers building their bodies on land and shaping their minds in the sea waters.

The coach, Diego, is one of a kind. A Pirate-like character, long hair and narrow goatee, aka “il Dragone”. His methods are spartan but always uplifting and encouraging. He’s more interested in the content of his practices than in the form of them. He managed to raise ferocious athletes who gained gold medals nationally and internationally.

This photographic series aims to highlight the work dynamics within a team, but also the friendship and connection created by the group, by these young people, in order to achieve a goal that goes beyond the simple result of the competition: the construction of the various personality, of conscious men. A construction based on individual effort and mutual trust.

This story wants to celebrate the beauty of human maturity and the importance of having good leaders in a crucial and delicate moment such as adolescence.

Credits

Ph & Text by Glauco Canalis
IG @glaucocanalis
glaucocanalis.com

Creative Direction Giuliana Minaldi


Taekwondo is a family business

A martial family, the Pachansky family, portrayed by the words of the young Mia and the photos of Joe Hart

Taekwondo is a family business for the Pachanskys. The Korean martial art allowed two brothers and a sister to overcome gender differences, to unite themselves in a single, all-encompassing passion. A passion portrayed by Joe Hart’s skilled camera.

We talked to Mia, the feminine side of this household dedicated to the art of kicking and punching: a clear-headed teenager who recently joined the British Taekwondo program. Thanks to her  voice we embraced the Olympic dream and we understood the importance this sport can have for a young girl. Good vision.

How long has Taekwondo been part of your family? Were you and your brothers the first to practice it or is it a family tradition?

My brothers and I originally came across Taekwondo by chance just over six years ago; at the time I was a very un-sporty kid who could’ve never fathomed fighting someone, let alone competing on a broad scale.We were lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time to receive a flyer on the way to school for the local club, and my family originally joined just to get healthy and improve our fitness a bit.

What made me want to start to take Taekwondo seriously was watching my brother at his first competition. Experiencing the electric atmosphere in the competition venue and seeing how exciting competing was for my younger brother inspired me to want to start training more seriously and do the same.

What are the sensations and emotions you feel during training and competitions?

The feeling of thrill that you get from stepping onto the mats in a competition is very addictive. Hearing your teammates cheering you on in the background as you walk on, psyching yourself up as your opponent approaches the mat, seeing your name up on the screen – These are all reasons that make me feel adrenalised before a fight. Having the opportunity to travel abroad to many different countries that I never would have had the chance to see otherwise is something I’m very grateful for. I also feel very lucky to have met new friends from different parts of the country through training with the GB development team.

Day to day training on the other hand, isn’t always as glamorous. Balancing training every day, while being in school full time can get very stressful. It can get very difficult to motivate myself sometimes. Getting started is always the hardest part though – once I’ve warmed up I feel committed to having a good session and there’s nothing more satisfying than the feeling of endorphins at the end of training.

How do you feel about being a young girl involved in a martial art?

Practicing Taekwondo has boosted my confidence immeasurably. Whilst martial arts isn’t a panacea to solve every gender based problem a girl may ever face, I strongly believe that girls can benefit from the skills developed in martial arts; from learning self defence to building up your sense of self-worth. Britain has a very strong women’s senior and junior Taekwondo team, and has a large selection pool so I have never lacked sparring opponents due to being a girl.

Does the relationship between you and your siblings change on the tatami? And has your personality been changed/improved by the encounter with Taekwondo?

To be honest my siblings and I do argue all the time, but we get on better during training and we motivate each other. I am grateful to have my brothers to train with especially during the pandemic when all other training was stopped. Doing Taekwondo, and any sport I believe, definitely does shape your personality as you learn to cope with stressful situations and it teaches you that putting yourself outside of your comfort zone will reward you. I think that a lot of the skills I’ve picked up from there, like time management, perseverance and willingness to try new things, are transferred to other parts of my life too.

How do you see this sport in your future and what are your goals?

My ultimate aim is to win a gold medal in the Olympics; my sights are set on Paris 2024 and LA 2028. Those are however very long term goals, and a shorter term goal of mine is to be selected for the 2021 Junior European Championships. Recently, I have been accepted to join GB Taekwondo’s full time programme, and I look forward to starting full time training in July. Being able to do what I love full time is something I’ve aspired to do for a long time. I would love to be able to shine a positive light on the sport, and I would like to be able to inspire a younger generation of Taekwondo athletes the way GB’s current athletes inspire me now.

Credits

Ph Joe Hart
IG @joehartphoto
joehartphoto.com

Text by Gianmarco Pacione


Gramicci, beyond climbing

In the 1980s Mike Graham, a rebel of the walls, created a brand destined for legend

Imagine the aftermath of the 1970s rebels, imagine a welcoming shadow stretching, hour after hour, at the foot of the superb Half Dome, a granite spur nestled in the heart of Yosemite Park.

Imagine a psychedelic California, lived on the notes of Jimi Hendrix, populated by young people with unkempt beards, by bodies that immolate themselves on vertical walls in search of sensory freedom, in search of goals to be conquered hand after hand, foothold after foothold.

Just imagine a Woodstock of climbing, a commune of ascension, where the excess of physical effort alternates with the enchanting faunal chatter of the Sierra Nevada.

Now imagine that this human enclave, abandoned to adrenaline peaks and inner ecstasy, was the birthplace of one of the most iconic brands in the outdoor universe. You’re imaging Gramicci’s story.

MIKE GRAHAM AND THE UTOPIA OF THE HALF DOME

“Never has been, and never will be trodden by human foot”. Geologist Josiah Whitney referred with this distrust to the rock dome overlooking Yosemite National Park.

The Half Dome was utopia, it was a dizzying abyss tending towards the sky, impossible to dominate. At least apparently. At least until the pegs and ropes of George Anderson, the Scottish climber who was the first to escape from the abyss in 1875, reaching the summit, and starting a challenge that would be cyclically repeated for the whole following century, arriving intact, in all its suggestive power, to the present.

They found themselves on the slopes of that rock screen, the so-called ‘Stonemasters’, legendary performers of climbing between the 1970s and 1980s. They ascended under the influence of rock ‘n’ roll and LSD, wore colorful bandanas and oversized sweaters. At night, when darkness took over the Half Dome, they lit up their camps with saxophones and swirling parties.

They were in their twenties or so, they were free, they risked their lives to merge with nature. They did not want to dominate the elements, they wanted to understand their primordial essence more deeply. Among them was a teenager, Mike Graham, an unwitting visionary who, in those journeys suspended in the void, would find the inspiration for a clothing brand.

THE BIRTH OF GRAMICCI

Gramicci’s genesis would have Italian colours. Incomprehensible, almost surreal colours. In fact, it seems that Graham, driven by his intolerance towards tight and uncomfortable trousers, decided to start producing a different type of technical material, different from the obsolete garments used until then for climbing.

Apparently, he decided to do this for a first all-Italian climb of the Half Dome, and apparently, he wanted to Italianize his surname to honour his travelling companions. In reality there was little, if any, Italian in that umpteenth assault on Yosemite’s most famous dome. There was only that linguistic flicker: that Gramicci, hybridization of Graham, which sounded as exotic, as it was effective for branding the newly created garments.

The fact is that in his small Californian garage, Graham became a creator, an inventor, redesigning the cornerstones of outdoor clothing, following his own vision focused on comfort, practicality, performance.

Greater freedom arrived at the inguinal level to increase the range of action of the legs. Then came the integration of a nylon belt which, over time, became the Californian brand’s manifesto. Silhouettes devoted to exploration and walls also arrived in this fresh wave of climbing style. With them came the fame, initially niche and then global.

GRAMICCI IN URBAN CULTURE AND IN THE PRESENT DAY

With the onset of the 1990s and the explosion of urban movements linked to the imaginary of skate and surf, Gramicci flooded the metropolitan asphalts, turning into a cult company for the streetwear universe. The Californian brand, along with other similar international realities,  changed the perception of the technical brand.

The iconic logo, the stylized and red-coloured climber, has recently returned to animate the peaks of the street-sports scene. Remaining faithful to its natural roots, Gramicci’s rebirth has been based on the historical cornerstones of the company’s soul: eco-sustainability, moral and aesthetic contiguity with the rebellious ‘Stonemasters’, and freedom, whether of movement or thought.

Universal concepts, not by chance sown and flourished even in unexpected places, such as beyond the Pacific, in Japan’s Rising Sun, or in Europe, which gave birth to the first mountain explorers (see the mountaineering movement of Victorian England). Universal concepts, in fact, like climbing itself, like the sensations experienced on walls all over the world. Concepts which have always been Gramicci’s manifesto.

Credits

Text Gianmarco Pacione

Ph Rise Up Duo


Behind the Lights – Emily Maye

The intersection between photography and seventh art, the shots as part of a single, great visual film. An interview with the American photographer

“Photography has enormous intrinsic power: the moment lived is something instantaneous and photography makes it something much stronger, meaningful”

Word and image, moment and eternity. Emily Maye’s photography has a powerful cinematic charge, it has the will to expand itself over time, in the story, in the countless variations of a simple, complex instant.

The portraits of the American photographer are sensorial documentaries generated by a single shot, they are rapid films ready to dig into the observer’s imagination, in her ability to evolve a detail, to articulate it, to make it history.

Emily’s artistic instinct is generated by a polyvalent soul, by a personal biography that has seen her alternate between ballet and script, direction and composition: studies and influences from which her photography has been drawing for a decade now.

“It’s funny to think that I am a photographer now: recently I found a video of myself at 5, 6 years old, taking a portrait of my brother with a football in his hand. As a child, my main interest was ballet, I wanted to be a professional dancer. Then, around the age of 11, I discovered films and started wanting to be a director. At college I studied to be a screenwriter and pursued this dream until ten years ago. Then, working at the moodboard for a cycling film, I started taking pictures. Since then I haven’t written any more”

A flash. From that distant epiphany, Emily’s photographic production has not suffered setbacks, following a very clear thematic flow: sport.

In her shots, athletes become the protagonists of a universal effort, their bodies are scrutinized in search of significant details, expressions and gestures that go beyond the sporting act, transcending into the ritual, mystical, emotional sphere.

“My photography has inevitably been infected by the seventh art. I often see my shots as part of a single great film. In all sports, after all, we have a ready-made story: that of winners and losers. We have, above all, people of whom I can investigate intimate moments and sacrifices. I love portraying the details of their bodies, such as the use of their hands: I learned from ballet that bodies can speak, communicate. I find sports such as Formula 1 or American football less interesting because the protagonists are all harnessed. I am very attached to the creativity of basketball, while with disciplines such as running or cycling, which are repetitive by definition, I always try to focus on a specific story, on the approach to the person, on the context: the environment that surrounds an athlete, in many cases, is almost more important than the sporting act itself”

Feeling something real, something new; reacting at the first glance, reflecting at second glance. The aims of Emily Maye’s photographic production are clear, as are her landmarks: from French crime films of the 60s and 70s to Robert Capa’s sports shots, from ‘Mamba Mentality’ to vintage posters of the golden era cycling.

“Kobe is my favorite athlete, I think he was the extreme definition of a mental champion. Neil Bedford’s portraits are perfect in summarizing the mentality and emotional charge of an icon who has become global: of an excellence that goes beyond sport. In general I dwell on photos that make the world interesting and new to my eyes: I like people alone and immersed in evocative scenarios, I like it when an athlete is covered by mud, fatigue and bad weather, I like it when I don’t need of a face to describe a story”

Kobe Bryant by Neil Bedford
Tour de France – 1939 by Robert Capa

If for Pasolini cinema was equally a linguistic and philosophical experience, the same can be said of the photographic work of Emily Maye.

A quick touch, the immediacy of the representation, the plurality and potential of its meanings. Here is a vulnerable Usain Bolt, here are the nuances of an NBA timeout, here are choppy waters and a seemingly anonymous American water polo player.

Here is the artistic continuity, here are the common denominators that have united Emily’s commercial and non-commercial works in the last, flourishing, decade.

“I have always followed my instincts and have always been hard on myself. If we put all my photographic works together I think we could have a definite idea of ​​who Emily is. Yesterday’s photos can easily be superimposed on those of ten years ago : and I’m proud of this. In this period, not being able to travel, not being able to discover new disciplines and new subjects weighed heavily on me. However, I had the opportunity to reflect, to understand even more the value of sport, its true meanings , and I even started writing again. In the future I would like to go back to the origin and produce a film. Obviously with a sports theme”

Credits

Ph Emily Maye

IG @emilymaye
emilymaye.com

Ph Neil Bedford

IG @neil_bedford
neilbedford.com

Ph Robert Capa

Text Gianmarco Pacione


IMSOUANE

A winter trip in the Moroccan surf

The photos and words by photographer Niccolò Cozzi lead us to a land that is both far and near at the same time. They transport us to atypical beaches, populated every winter by European surfers in search of a paradise behind their home, in search of a place that, just a Mediterranean away, can allow them to ride the perfect wave.
Enjoy the reading.

Imsouane is an old fishing village located in the southern part of Morocco on the Atlantic coast.

In this place there is no history, there are no buildings to see, the beaches are not swarming with tourists. The only people present are men who spend their time fishing.

“Why come to Imsouane?”, I asked a surfer who was accompanying me. “I was here in the summer, but they told me that the waves are better in the winter”, he replied, “The ocean works better”.

Imsouane is one of the favorite Moroccan spots for European surfers during the winter season. Here very long waves are formed, reaching 800 meters in length and 6 meters in height.

Dozens of surfers every day cross the stones, litter and the buildings under construction with the table in hand, surrounded by stray dogs. They arrive at the port, dive into the sea among the fishing boats and wait.

With Europe’s low temperatures, many surfers move to nearby destinations: destinations with milder temperatures. This work aims to be a first step on a journey to discover the winter waves. Because surfing is not just a summer sport, it’s a non-stop necessity.

Credits

Photo & Text Niccolò Cozzi
IG @nic_cozzi