How did your involvement in the #SKYWALK stunt come about?
I was initially approached by the Alex Thomson Racing team. The stunt sounded so interesting and different, that I had to check it out. Of course, the fact that HUGO BOSS was involved was also a big draw. It’s great to see the more forward thinking fashion brands express an interest in kiteboarding.
In the lead up to the stunt, how did you help or support Alex? Did you share any words of wisdom with him?
I think Alex didn’t quite know what he was in for(!) but since this kind of stunt has never been done before, there wasn’t a huge amount of wisdom that I could impart. There was a sense of the unknown amongst everyone in the team, I think. Alex is a very proficient kiteboarder and of course his sailing experience was invaluable for this stunt. All I remember saying to him before he went out was, “Just keep your kite above your head and you’ll be fine!”
As a professional kite surfer, what is it about this stunt that impresses or shocks you?
For me the most impressive thing about the stunt was the teamwork between Alex and his crew. It’s hard enough to get towed up behind a boat with an engine, but doing it with a sail boat adds a whole other layer of difficulty into the mix. The crew did an excellent job with the boat, making it possible for him to kite up to the tow rope and have the exact angles on the wind to get him as high up as possible. The wind was quite gusty too, making the stunt that much more challenging. Another thing I found very impressive was the way Alex and the crew had jimmy-rigged all of his gear to increase safety.
Have you ever seen anything of this magnitude attempted before?
No, I haven’t ever seen a kiteboarder go up so high on a rope. The only thing I can think of that comes close is when Nick Jacobsen (fellow pro kite-surfer) jumped off the top of Necker Island last year. Alex’s Sky Walk had a lot more moving parts than that, though. They had to rig a bunch of gear specifically for the stunt. All in all, I think this is most likely one of the biggest stunts in kiteboarding history.
What were your thoughts when Alex landed safely back down on the water?
The crazy thing about this stunt was that Alex didn’t just do it once; he had to go up and do it over and over. So the moment of relief when we would see him touch down on the water was short lived as he would go up and do it all over again straight away. There were
definitely a few instances where we saw him go down pretty hard, but after a moment we would see him pop back on his board and go for the next run.
Alex is a keen kite surfer in his spare time – what do you think of his skills on the kite board?
Alex really impressed me with his kiteboarding skills – he’s been doing it for quite a long time but he doesn’t get to kite as much as other people who are way less proficient with a kite! In his case, his endless experience sailing the ocean is definitely a huge advantage and it was fun to see him translate his sailing skills onto the kite. He’s a natural!
Now that Alex has tried his hand at kite surfing…are you contemplating giving sailing a try?!
Well, I’ve sailed small hobie cats before but I definitely know I would never have the courage to sail around the world alone. But I did develop a little crush on the boat, and on sailing, while I was taking part in the Sky Walk filming. So I hope someday to get invited to join a little adventure!
Photo Credit John Dill