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Posted by on Apr 14, 2020 in Travel, Windsurfing News |

Red Bull Storm Chase |Part 3| The grand finale…

It had been two years since the global Storm Chase has started in January 2012. After facing the brutal conditions of the Tasmanian coast, the four finalists were waiting for their final challenge. But the months kept coming, and the perfect storm was nowhere to be seen… Until 2014, when the weather has brought Red Bull Storm Chase back to the British Isles…

Third Mission: Cornwall (February 2014)

After waiting desperately for so long, the team started searching for alternative spots to hold the event at… But the Storm Chase’s safety director and big-wave expert Finn Mullen was confident they would be able to find just the storm they needed: “We really had to be aware of global weather patterns, but we knew where to look. (…) In mid-winter, Cornwall is right in the strike zone of the conveyor belt of Atlantic storms.” And so, it was only a matter of time, before the monster swell and winds battered the coast of Cornwall…

Storm at Trevose Lighthouse, Trevose Head, Cornwall, UK
Trevose Lighthouse, Trevose Head, Cornwall, UK
|Red Bull|

The 70kts winds and over 10m high waves were certainly worthy of the storm to drive the grand finale! “From what I hear from the locals, this is one of the biggest storms and swells they had in years.” said Klaas Voget, professional windsurfer and Red Bull Storm Chase Sport Director. And so the stage was set for the epic battle to commence… but who will win?

The storm is on…

The conditions were tough for both the riders as well as the support and safety team. Klaas Voget remembers one of the stickiest situations to involve one of the safety team members on a jet ski, as it broke down just outside of the break near the Bluff spot. “Luckily, it was the jet-ski of big-wave surfer Tom Butler, and he decided to just surf the ski in on the next set, rather than risk calling someone else out for help.”

Whilst the whole event luckily went down without any significant injuries, both the equipment and all the people involved took a severe beating. In Voget’s judgement: “The single worst wipe-out had to go Leon Jamaer, who really hit the water hard. But the king of poundings was Dany Bruch, who caught a series of waves right on the head. It was a lot of swimming.”

But from among the sea foam and the howling wind, only one rider could emerge victorious. And it was no other than the winner of the two previous missions, Thomas Traversa. Despite weighing in at only 60 kilograms, compared to the other guys oscillating around the 90 kilogram mark, the French sailor was the one to land the highest jumps and ride the biggest waves. Goes to show just how much windsurfing is centred around technique and not sheer strength – even in these extreme conditions.

Now that the storm is over… What’s next?

The overwhelmingly positive response and hype from the fans meant that, of course, the Storm Chase could not end here. The plan was for the event to return just the year after, with a new lineup of spots and riders. But despite the waiting period being announced time and time again, a suitable storm has not arrived until very recently. With the dramatically changing climate, it became harder than ever to predict and plan for the storm locations and strength. However, in March of 2019, the event came back to where it started seven years earlier – Ireland.

The new beginning: Ireland (10-12th March 2019)

In the second Storm Chase, last edition’s finalists were accompanied by four newly selected riders: Adam Lewis, Ricardo Campello, Robby Swift and the legendary wave rider Philip Köster.

Eight of the world’s best windsurfer
|Red Bull|

The event took place at the Magheroarty Beach spot in Ireland’s County Donegal. It was powered by the enormous power of Storm Gareth, delivering winds in excess of 131mph.

While Tuesday started small, it ended big, with the world’s best windsurfers competition in some of the windiest conditions they had ever sailed in. Huge jumps, positively scary wave rides, and of course, lots of crashes made for quite the show as everyone on the beach struggled to even stand in the same place as winds gusted to 131km/h.

Red Bull
Ricardo Campello of Venezuela performs at the Red Bull Storm Chase in Magheroarty, Ireland on March 12, 2019.
Ricardo Campello ditches his board mid-air

At the end of Day 1, Köster was the definite leader, having scored for the highest jumps in one of his heats. However, the others were not going to let him win easily. Campello tried time and time again to land a Double Pushloop, but even though he was successful in performing the unprecedented trick, he never landed it cleanly. Köster responded with a perfectly executed Air Taka, that brought him back up in the scoreboard. However, it was still unclear who was going to be the winner. With the wind picking up to 100km/h and the swell rolling giant waves towards the end of last heat, everyone still had a chance to land a massive jump and take the trophy. When the final horn sounded, no one knew who won the mission.

In the end, it was the Australian Jaeger Stone who ended up on the first place of the podium. “Jaeger’s multiple solid wave rides and jumps, along with a biggest wave hit bonus, sealed the deal.” (Windsurf UK). Köster came in second, with Leon Jamaer and Robby Swift taking the 3rd and 4th place respectively.

Winners of the first mission of the second Storm Chase, March 2019
Winners of the first mission of the second Storm Chase

When will they be back?

You might be asking, when will we get more action from the Storm Chasers crew? Currently, the waiting period for winter 2019/2020 has not been announced yet. However, with the previous one lasting from October to March to take advantage of the storm season in the Northern Hemisphere, we can expect the competition to return very very shortly…
In the meantime, if you want to know as soon as the new mission is announced, follow Storm Chasers of Facebook and check out their website. We’ll also make sure to keep you updated with the latest updates on our blog.

Happy windsurfing and stay safe!


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