Alex Thomson rolls paragliding, kite-surfing and sailing into one death-defying stunt on his race boat Hugo Boss
British round-the-world sailor Alex Thomson has unveiled another death-defying stunt. The sailor has already carried out amazing acts of daring by walking out on his canting keel as his yacht raced to windward, and walking up the heeling mast to dive off the top, all clothed in immactulate black suits.
He has taken things a step further with a third stunt. It involves Thomson on a kiteboard chasing his IMOCA open 60 HUGO BOSS boat upwind and attaching himself via a rope to the top of the boat’s mast. The skipper then uses the speed of the boat to turn the kite into a paraglider, propelling himself 280ft into the air, high above the mast of HUGO BOSS. The hieght was equivalent to a 25-storey building.
When Thomson reached the peak of his flight, he then detached himself from the boat, controlling his descent as if under a parachute, to land back on the water. Thomson was wearing a smart BOSS suit for the whole stunt.
The Skywalk was carried out by Alex Thomson Racing, in partnership with sponsors HUGO BOSS and Mercedes-Benz. In total, 35 people were involved in the planning, co-ordination and execution of the stunt, including Alex Thomson Racing Operations Manager Ross Daniel, professional kite-surfer Susi Mai and kite-surfing coach Ray Kasper.
Having safely returned to dry land Thomson commented:
‘The previous two stunts that we carried out – The Mastwalk and The Keelwalk – were so successful that, as a team, we just knew we couldn’t stop there. We were all in agreement; we wanted to do something even bigger and better.
‘I’ve always had a love for all things wind-powered so naturally a stunt which involved kite surfing was the next step. The idea of combining two of my favourite sports and executing something which, to our knowledge, had never been done before was really exciting.
‘The team and I have been planning the stunt for a long time. There were lots of things that could have gone wrong. Perhaps most concerning for the team was the prospect of an uncontrolled descent, causing me to come back down too fast. Water can be as hard as concrete if hit with enough velocity, so this was one of the most dangerous aspects of the stunt. But I had a brilliant team around me and, with their help, we managed to pull it off. What’s next? Who knows?’
This is the third daring stunt to be unveiled by the 41-year-old yachtsman and his team. Videos of The Keelwalk – a challenge which involved Thomson walking along the orange keel of his racing yacht, whilst heeled over and sailing at high speed – and The Mastwalk – which saw the skipper climb the 30 metre mast of HUGO BOSS and dive from the very top into the water – have now been viewed by more than 4.5m people around the world.
Thomson will compete in the pinnacle event of the Ocean Masters race calendar – the Vendée Globe – later this year, a race which begins on 6 November. The non-stop, solo, unassisted, round the world race takes approximately 80 days to complete. In the last edition of the race in 2013 Thomson finished in third place. This time around he is determined to be the first Brit to win the prestigious title.