It takes a village. In this case, a village of half-crazy people, because the idea for the 2013 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue was out there. Way out there. Like, Antarctica out there. The plan: We would shoot on all seven continents—in seven months.
Why? Well, I've always considered highlighting the beauty of the world to be part of the job of being editor of this magazine. I'm a big believer in pushing the envelope, challenging myself and taking the road less traveled. Or, in this case, the ice floe less traveled.
Managing editor Christian Stone and creative director Chris Hercik bought into the idea. Then we had to tackle the logistics of traveling around the world, which wouldn't have been possible without associate editor Darcie Baum and editorial coordinator Janine Berey. Then I needed people to agree to come along with me: models, photographers, hair and makeup artists. In the end, more than 100 people—all of whom believed that the legacy of this magazine was worth the tremendous effort that we were all going to have to put forth—signed on to take part, all so we could try to pull off something no magazine had done before.
Until the moment we left the cozy confines of Abercrombie & Kent's Le Boreal, our five-star cruise ship, and set foot on Antarctica, I truly didn't know if we would pull it off. But we did. It certainly wasn't easy. On our seven-continent workout we covered more than 90,000 miles, in everything from four-seater bush hoppers to icebreakers. We endured heat waves and subzero wind chills. We got blistered and burned, suffered sprains and strains. (Somehow we avoided hypothermia.) But, as the pictures on the following pages show, it was worth it.
The Great Barrier Reef in Australia provided a gorgeous backdrop of silica beaches. Alongside flamenco dancers and bullfighters, we soaked in the ornate beauty of Spain. We trekked through the most ethereal region of China, marveled at the moai statues on Easter Island and took in diamond-laden dunes in Namibia. And the Bahamas served as the setting for an homage to five decades of suits in the most modern of mediums: body paint.
Of course, every Swimsuit trip spawns good stories, but we knew that our venture to Antarctica would be special. So we brought along Steve Rushin, who produced a journalistic rarity: a story so entertaining that you actually won't mind not looking at models for a few minutes while you read it.
The issue also contains another first: a mini-zine filled with fashion and style tips aimed at our female readers. And, as usual, we shot countless hours of footage for exclusive videos that will appear on SI.com/swimsuit and on the tablet editions of the Swimsuit Issue. (You'll also be able to see them soon on our new daily Swimsuit blog, which will launch this month on SI.com.)
It was an ambitious year, and in the 12 months ahead the challenge will be to make our 50th anniversary edition even bigger. Unless a new continent is discovered, it won't be easy. But as this year's issue attests, few things that are worthwhile ever are.