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Posted by on Mar 25, 2020 in Travel, Windsurfing News |

Red Bull Storm Chase |Part 2| The hunt goes global…

Welcome back to our series on the most insane windsurfing competition on the planet! If you want to know how the idea became reality during the first Red Bull Storm Chase in Europe, check out Part 1. In this article, we’ll see how this small, one-off publicity stunt evolved into the global endeavour we know today!

The first global storm chase (2012-2014)

After the success of the one-off 2006 event, things went quiet for a while, with the sales of the DVD keeping everyone happy. However, as a result of wild interest of fans and riders alike, bsp-Media and Red Bull began planning the new and improved Storm Chase in early 2011. Instead of limiting themselves in terms of time and place, the organisers wanted to go big. Potential spots were chosen from around the globe, including Japan, Tasmania, USA,  Iceland , Spain , Ireland and France. The Storm Chase consisted of 3 separate stages (or missions). Out of 10 competitors chosen via online vote, only 4 would make it to the third one.

How did the new Red Bull Storm Chase work?

Of course, the bigger, global scale of the competition makes the organisation vastly more difficult! Transporting all the riders, crew and equipment to a place anywhere in the world at a couple of days notice is a massive challenge. Add to it the fact that the riders are scattered all around the world, often busy with PWA competitions and you’ve got yourself a logistical nightmare. So just how do they actually manage to make it happen?

Storm Chase map updated during the waiting period.
Storm Chase map updated during the waiting period.

Each year, the team decides on a series of waiting periods, lasting about 2 months each. They are chosen to not interfere with the PWA season and to give a maximum chance of a suitable storm occurring. When the storm chase enters a waiting period, the team continuously monitors the forecasts and conditions at each of the pre-selected spots. What they’re looking for is a storm with winds in excess of 10 Bft (55mph) and waves at least 10m high. When a suitable storm arises that can possibly be reached within 48 hours, the race is on to get to it. And so it begun!

First Mission: Ireland (January 2012)

With winds reaching over 50kts and waves as high as 10m, the team started to prepare for an event in Ireland. It didn’t take long for the go command to be issued on the 25th of January. Víctor Fernández López traveled from Chile,  Thomas Traversa and Kenneth Danielsen from South Africa, while Boujmaa Guilloul had to quickly apply for a visa in Morocco. All of that for the competition to start just three days later. With winds in excess of 70kts, the conditions were brutal. However, that has not stopped Robby Swift from pulling off a monstrous Pushloop Forward that broke his board in half on landing. Soon after, Thomas Traversa one-upped him with a perfect Wave360, pulled off whilst riding down a 10m monster. This, along with his incredible style, has brought the Frenchman to victory in the first Storm Chase mission.

Second Mission: Tasmania (August 2013)

The Australian episode of Storm Chase started off with a disappointment. Although the waves were reaching almost 8 m height, the wind was disappointingly low. Only one heat was held that day, and the contest was on the verge of being cancelled.

|Mitch Pearson|

However, overnight the wind and swell have turned angry, and with a slight change of spot, the windsurf was on! The new spot in Marrawah, named Back of the Lighthouse, is known for notoriously strong currents in big swell, creating an additional challenge for the windsurfers.

However, absolutely none of that mattered to the winner of the previous mission, Thomas Traversa. Together with the slender Frenchman, the three other riders who defied the storm most impressively of all and qualified for the third and final mission were Dany Bruch, Leon Jamaer and Marcilio Browne. Words just cannot describe the sheer style and technique those guys presented – you just gotta watch the video!

But then… the wind stood still… Well, not so much still as simply it wasn’t strong enough anywhere on the planet for another year… And so, the four finalists had to wait until February 2014 to find out who is the true storm chaser. But more on it, and on the future of Red Bull Storm Chase, in the final part of this series…

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