The Red Bull Storm Chase is the most extreme windsurfing contest in the world and its 2019 edition certainly cemented its reputation. We rewind back to March 2019 with this exclusive feature as John Carter caught up with the competitors and contest organiser Jobst von Paepcke to find out how it all went down in the wild winds of NW Ireland.
Words Jaeger Stone, Philip Koester, Leon Jamaer, Robby Swift, Ricardo Campello, Thomas Traversa, Adam Lewis, Dany Bruch, Jobst von Paepcke // Photos John Carter, Joerg Mitter and Sebastian Marko
I was really stoked to receive the call up! I’ve dreamed of being a part of the RBSC for at least the last three years, so I was really grateful for it to be finally be given the green light and to be selected. My happiness was definitely mixed with nerves though. It can be tough when you know you’re about to travel to the other side of the world to go out of your comfort zone, but it was a no-brainer to accept. In a way I feel like I’ve been preparing for the last 3 years while we’ve waited. In that time I’ve just been trying to improve my windsurfing and fitness, both for the RBSC but also just for myself and the PWA World Tour. Specific preparation I did was probably just trying to get comfortable sailing in boots, mittens and a hood. Sailing with that gear in warm water does help a little because you can get a feel for it, but really I probably should have just been having ice baths for the last three years! The other thing I’ve focussed on is just trying to be as comfortable as possible in the water, particularly when things get stressful; working on my swimming and freediving with the help of some friends at home. I’ve tried to make this a consistent part of my normal routine and training because I enjoy it so much.
Adrenaline definitely plays a huge role. I couldn’t get over how painful your hands get when sailing in those conditions. It feels like your finger nails are slowly being ripped off. Before I came over to Ireland one of my biggest concerns was going to be how I handled the cold. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to move or how I would react as it’s so different to anything I know. That was definitely a massive challenge, but I think you just grit your teeth and move on. It always settled after the first session.
Sailing with all the extra gear it definitely takes some time to get used to. The hood feels as if it shelters you from the outside world, but it’s a very different sensation when you have a big wipeout or jump and rotate with the hood on. You just have to adapt to it, relax and rely on some of your other senses a little more. There’s no way you can move as freely with all that gear on, but in those conditions, without it, you wouldn’t be able to do anything.
The second day of competition was by far the windiest I’ve ever sailed. My round 2 and round 3 heats were absolutely mental. I was on my 3.0 Severne S-1 and just skimming along the water on my fin. It was almost impossible to sail in a straight line, I was laughing at the time and even now it makes me laugh just thinking about it. Without a doubt that was the most intense sailing of my life. If it wasn’t for the RBSC, the amazing safety crew and the other competitors I doubt I would ever go out in those conditions alone.
There were plenty of moments I was scared. I think in those conditions I’m always a little scared or nervous about what could happen and what I could do. It’s similar when I’m sailing big Margaret River or a super windy day at home in Geraldton. I get nervous but as long as I want to be there and I’m confident in my ability and fitness I feel like I still find enjoyment. I always remember listening to a podcast with Mark Matthews talking about fear and saying that you have to want it more than you fear it. I felt like I’d done all the preparation and was confident within myself, so it just came down to what I wanted to try and do. I think late on the second afternoon of competition the conditions were pretty close to my limit though. It’s one thing to sail in those conditions, but I think to try and do the biggest moves we can is another. It was awesome to hang with the other riders! They’re all really good friends and I look up to all of them a lot. Every one of them is an amazing windsurfer trying to push the sport and themselves as far as possible. I honestly went in to the event just hoping I’d learn a couple of things from those guys about how to sail in such gnarly and cold conditions.
All the coverage was so cool. Everyone thinks you’re absolutely crazy, but we had some of the best safety crew in the world looking after us. I’m so glad we scored such a huge storm and it played out like it did; storm Gareth was massive! And to win, that was unreal. I really value the RBSC and what it stands for. It is such a unique contest, in the craziest conditions with some of the best windsurfers in the world. Everything felt like a high point to me. Even the cold and experiencing snow for the first time. It was so cool to experience Ireland and the power of storm Gareth, definitely a highlight of my career so far. I weigh 73 kg and I used my 72 litre Starboard UltraKode on the first day. On the second day I used my prototype 76 litre Starboard UltraKode which was designed for bigger waves and cross-off winds. In both boards I used my Stone Surf thruster fin setup with an 18cm rear fin and 11cm side fins. On the first day I sailed on my Severne 3.3 and 3.6 S-1 Pro and the second day I used my 3.0 custom Severne S-1.
It has been an amazing experience to be in such a big storm where you would normally not go on the water. Sharing those sessions with seven other top riders has been really fun and it was cool to push ourselves in gnarly conditions. Now that I have got back to normal winds on Gran Canaria I think that it has helped me get more confidence in my jumps.
It was the first time ever that I came to Ireland, it has been a really cool trip and I can’t wait to sail many other spots around the coast as there are so many possibilities. Dealing with the cold was the trickiest part, the first few minutes before falling into the water was fine, but once I got a bit wet I started to lose the feeling in my hands and feet. Normally I would have said no to gloves and neoprene boots, but it was a must! For jumping I tried to take the gloves off to get better grip. Dealing with a hood and impact vest felt pretty good I must say, with around 6-7mm neoprene on top the vest made the impacts quite good and not like on Gran Canaria where you see stars after a bad landing with a thin wetsuit. Sailing in hail was the toughest and most uncomfortable windsurfing ever, but it was still cool to have it once. The conditions were really tough, being that cold and before the rain squalls the wind picked up to 120 km/h which made sailing on a 3.5m extremely difficult, control was ok for the jumps but sometimes it was tricky to sail in a straight line.
When I did the huge forward on day one, honestly I was thinking of only doing a straight air since I had a weird gust before taking off from the wave, while going down I had some time to think and decided for a forward because it was still a contest and a straight jump wouldn’t have scored as much. For the stalled double there was no way, it has to be very in control! I think we had the windiest heats on the second contest day, I dropped to a 3.5m sail but I could have easily sailed on 3.0m which would have made moves a bit easier. They were definitely the windiest conditions I have ever sailed in my life. I was never scared of the conditions, just very pumped up, but the wind and temperatures got to a point where there was not much more you could do.
It was really cool to hang around with other storm chasers, I have never seen everyone charging that much before and it was really cool to watch! I hope we will have another storm chase since I like the concept a lot. The coverage has been amazing so far and I don’t think there is anything better that we could do for the sport, showing amazing jumps and wave rides make it really cool. I am pretty happy with my second place, Jaeger sailed solid throughout and was also nailing pretty epic wave rides. Highs were definitely in the beginning of each heat and lows after it became way too cold to hold on to the gear towards the end. I weigh 95 kg and used an 86 and 80 litre Starboard UltraKode with 4.2 and 3.5m Severne Blades. On the first day I used my twin fins, 16.5 cm; the wave size wasn’t that big and it looked like it was going to be more of a jumping session so the twin fin setup has good speed and was great for that day. On the second day I switched to quad, 14.5 cm in the back and 10 cm in the front; having a lot of grip in those conditions is very important since you don’t want your tail sliding around. With that amount of wind you don’t really look for crazy speeds so quad setup was perfect.
I have an amazing winter suit which didn’t restrict me at all. It was almost cosy to be fully wrapped up like this. The only thing that was really cold were my fingers. Especially with the strong winds which made it really hard to keep your grip on the boom. I actually enjoyed sailing the two days with my smallest sails and don’t think it was pure survival. I even wish we would have had bigger waves! On the second day however, the wind got so strong in the end that it was really, really hard to jump, let alone just sail in a straight line and keep the board in the water.
All the Storm Chase missions were completely different and I will remember them all for the rest of my life, that is for sure. They had a big impact on my career as a professional windsurfer and I experienced incredible moments along those journeys! Every time I come to Ireland the Irish hospitality surprises me, again and again. When the border control just smiled at me and let me pass after I presented my expired ID, I knew I would have a great time in this country! Staying for almost a week in Magheroarty was great too. Everyone was happy and stoked to see the Storm Chasers come to this remote place and play in the ocean. My windiest heat was the very last one when they measured 131 km/h wind speed at the beach. I was on a flat trimmed 3.0m and really, really powered up! Coming back to the beach it was too windy to walk up and I had to sit and wait for the strongest part of the gust to pass by before I was able to go up the beach.
I wasn´t scared and even enjoyed being washed by a couple of bigger waves. Only in the last heat when it got super windy I noticed I was not really able to control my equipment anymore. Once I took off to jump it was basically up to the wind in what kind of rotation or direction it would push me. I landed some push loops but realized it was impossible to try more technical manoeuvres. It was really cool to hang with the other storm chasers and get to know them better. The atmosphere was definitely more relaxed compared to PWA events. Everyone is fighting for himself and trying to gain points over the two days so there is no rivalry between riders. The challenging conditions made it really hard to land moves and everyone was stoked when a big move was successfully landed. You feel a bit like a rock star when everything is taken care of and you don’t need to organize anything! It was great to enjoy this luxury for a few days. Now it is back to hustling and organizing myself, which is ok too!
My goal was to finish on the podium and I am super happy to have achieved just that. Most of the competitors were and still are my idols and are the biggest talents of the sport. It is pretty cool to be on a level with these legends! The highs were the six days in Ireland, the lows were cutting down a brand new mast to fit my 4.0m just to realize it rigs perfectly fine without cutting the mast! I weigh 85 kg and the smallest board I used was the JP Ultimate Wave 75 with thruster setup, 18cm + 10cm side fins. My other board was the JP Ultimate 83 with quad setup, 15cm + 10cm, all K4 Fins. My smallest sail was a custom NeilPryde Combat 3.0m and my biggest on the warm up day was a 5.0m. In my heats my biggest sail was a 4.0m on day one.
This was an intense event from all aspects. The unknown date of departure kind of hangs over you in every decision to travel during the waiting period, and that waiting period went on all winter for three years in a row. I could have been in Chile or Argentina with the whole family when I got the call up but dodged that bullet, then on the morning that I was leaving Maui to New York for a trade show with my wife’s handbag brand, I got the call up that we were most likely going to have to leave in a couple of days. I had to frantically pack everything up to be ready to go to Ireland in case they decided to give the green light. That storm didn’t work out, but on the morning after I landed back on Maui from New York, I got the green light and had to book my ticket for that same evening to fly to Ireland, ironically through Newark airport where I had just set off from about 72 hours earlier.
But none of that compares to the actual brutality of the conditions when we were there on the water. It’s great looking back on it as it really felt like something I had to push myself to do, to get over the fear and head out and actually try to do stuff in those conditions. I was scared before every heat and sailing out to the break fully concentrated on exactly what I was doing, no distractions. It was almost like a dream. It was a physical effort to walk down the beach and say “I’m going to go out there and try to actually do jumps and rides that could put me in contention to do well here”. It was really frightening, something that I feel very, very rarely when it comes to windsurfing. I think my heart rate stats show how hard it was, I was averaging around 185 for the entire 20 minutes we were out there in every heat. I can only imagine that it was an excess of adrenaline doing that as it’s ridiculously high!
I normally hate sailing with a hood or impact vest and I don’t remember sailing with boots in the past 10 years or so because I have always found them so uncomfortable but actually in those temperatures, it was completely fine and the hood was an amazing shield against the hail! I was never really that cold, I had my Mystic Majestic 5/3 which was amazing and a hood with a long cape that went down inside of the suit and even on the 3° C. day it was perfect. My hands froze on that day and I couldn’t feel the boom in the first heat, I even bit my finger while trying to get the mittens off the ends of my fingers so that I would be able to hold the boom better because my fingers were so frozen that I couldn’t feel them at all! After I went through the intense pain of warming them up again after the first heat they weren’t too bad and I could deal with it, no problem.
The last heat was the windiest. It was the scariest thing I have ever done probably on or off the water! I had been on 3.0 since the second heat and in that second one I was actually pretty comfy on the 3.0, but in the last heat, after the first couple of runs, a squall came through and it was just un-sailable. Both Philip and I sailed in and out and got flattened on the water several times without doing a single jump or ride for about 6 minutes. Not through lack of will, as I was desperate to get a couple more jumps which I needed to move up the rankings, but I simply thought I might die if I tried anything.
In that last heat I was physically scared. In all the other heats I wanted to do things and posted some scores in every heat, but in that heat, I was coming in thinking “maybe there will be a little lull and I will be able to do a jump”, but it just never happened. I think it was the windiest conditions I have ever experienced. I wasn’t even able to jibe or tack, I would just do half a tack and jump in beside the board and try to waterstart, even doing that, a gust came and blew the boom into my face and made me bite my hand and gave me a fat lip, literally just trying to waterstart! I liked the whole crew, they are all good friends. Ricardo has been one of my best friends since I was a teenager, and Thomas and Dany since a few years later. Jaeger, Leon, Adam and Philip are newer to the tour but they have all been competing for probably 10 years now and they are some of the nicest guys we compete with so it was good craic. Normally nobody ever recognizes me (other than windsurfers), but when I got to the airport, everyone was stopping me saying “Oh you are one of those crazy windsurfers who were out in Storm Gareth”. Even the United check-in staff had seen it on the news and let me check in 8 bags to Maui for free. It was quite special and not something I have ever really experienced before.
When looking forward to the event I would’ve liked to be higher than 4th for sure, and to perform better, especially in the jumps, but then the way it turned out and with how difficult it was to sail and how well the other guys sailed, I was proud of my performance to put me in 4th. I had planned to do my jumps on the first day, having seen the ridiculous forecast for the last day and I was on track to do that, having done several good doubles and a nice back loop in the first 2 heats, but then in the 3rd heat with Thomas, which was supposed to be the jumping heat inside on the beach break, the wind swung completely onshore and dropped by about 20 knots so I wasn’t able to get planing at all and I felt that I really missed out on that round which was where pretty much everyone got their best scoring jumps since the conditions were much more suited for jumping in there. It was just luck of the draw, but it meant that I needed a couple of jumps from the last day and it was so out of control then that I really couldn’t bring myself to do any. When it got to the last heat and I think I only had 4 jumps in my score sheet (out of 5 needed) I said to myself: “you have to do a push loop forward in this heat to have any chance of getting in the top 3” and I mentally blocked out the fear and went out and did one on the first or second run so I was really proud of myself for that single move, especially considering the insane conditions, and I think it’s what put me from 5th to 4th so it was a good personal achievement and kind of made my day. Low point was for sure when the wind died in my “jumping” heat in by the beach. That was definitely the opportunity I would have liked to fill my jump sheet and I was completely gutted that I just didn’t get a single chance. Also when I did a 360 on a sick bowl on a big wave and landed it perfectly only to have no wind on the 3.0 and get flattened by the wave.
High points were an aerial that I did in my first heat of the last day when I had such bad arm pump that I thought I wouldn’t be able to hold the boom, but I went for it and hit a big lip and pulled it off, also a nice turn to 360 combination on the 3.0 on that last day. That felt really good. And the final push loop forward; it wasn’t my best one ever but I landed it on my back with my sail up and my feet in the straps and didn’t get the sail ripped out of my hands so I was happy with that effort and it left me with a good feeling to come back to the beach after the final heat, that at least I had given it my best with the chances I had. I weigh 79 kg and used an 83 litre quad with Tectonics Maui ‘beastie’ quad set 14.5cm in the back and 9cm in the front. I felt unbelievably in control on those fins!
Well it was definitely the coldest and windiest I have sailed but it was great fun. I just wish I could have done better, but sometimes it was just really hard in the cold to hold onto the sail! In the end I had lots of fun with the boys and it was a great experience, I have a great story to tell my grandkids one day! I don’t think anyone could actually get prepared for this kind of wind, maybe you can be more used to the cold, but to the wind I don’t think so! It was my first time in Ireland, one more country for my list! I could not really explore it as much as I wanted but I am sure I will be back! Normally in places like Sylt, before getting on the water or just before the heat, it can be a bit cold, but this time cold for me was a big issue, even adrenaline couldn’t really take it away. I really couldn’t feel my hands sometimes, which changed the way I could sail.
I think none of us really had control, especially on the second day, the wind was very offshore and that made it super turbulent. This is something I respect, because
the worse wipeouts for jumping are on offshore days! That is the worst direction for jumping! I wanted to give the triple a go if I had the control and the chance but during the event it went out of my head. I honestly could not even do a double during the whole event! Stalled forwards were a mission too! The double push loop was an accident. My goal was to make a push loop rotation but due to the offshore winds and the way you hit the wave I completely lost control, but was actually quite close to landing it. So now I can maybe focus on landing them during events! Sometimes you just go high and there is so much wind in your sail, your hands are frozen and the best thing to do was to bail to avoid an injury! My last heat was ridiculously windy, there was one gust where I could not even waterstart, I had to wait for it to slow down a bit! My only regret was to have maybe taken a 3.6m on the first day instead of a 3.3m so I could have some better jumps on my score sheet! The whole event was amazing. It was all incredible with a professional crew! They all performed an excellent job and showed lots of respect to us. Most of them were hours in the hail and rain, and I think if we make another RBSC I hope to get the same crew and team!
It has been a mind-blowing trip, I really enjoyed spending time with the rest of the boys, on and off the water. The conditions have been tough, with so much strong wind! I was hoping for big waves, but it was more about jumping this time, so I knew it was going to be hard for me to do well. When the 80/90 kilos guys are struggling on 3.0m, it becomes really difficult for me to do anything on the water. I tried my best, but most of what I did was crashing hard, my main concern was not to get injured by trying something stupid! Not very fun to be honest, I kind of felt powerless. But Jaeger did well and he is only 10 kilos heavier than me, so there is always a way I guess. I probably miss some technique to handle so much wind. When you use a 3.0 you have to keep it a bit baggy, if not it just doesn’t work. It is a storm so the wind is gusty… if you put too much downhaul and outhaul then the sail becomes so unstable, and that makes it even harder to sail. But I will definitely remember this event. Sailing in 100 plus km/h winds with temperatures between 3 and 6 degrees is not something you do every day!
The cold made everything a little bit harder I think. My body felt totally fine with the good wetsuit and the adrenaline, but having cold hands was tricky, it’s just hard to hold the boom at some points. On the first day I could do a few things, but on the second day it was definitely too windy for me, the waves were messy and choppy, I had zero control while wave riding and when I had to jump… I am not a very good jumper anyway so there was not much I could do, except crashing hard. On day one, at the end of my first heat the wind got so strong, around 120km/h and I struggled to get back to the beach on my 3.6. Then on the last day my very last heat had the wind gusting at 130km/h, I was on 3.0 but I would have probably scored the same points if I would have stayed in the car. No regrets, I really tried my best. Some jumps I did were the biggest and scariest ones of my life. There were a couple of waves in the end that were decent, but it was just too windy for me to ride them properly. The waves were not scary at all, but I had to hold back on my jumps because my technique is not good enough, and I didn’t want to get injured by trying something I knew I wasn’t going to land.
Hanging with the other riders is what I enjoyed the most I think. We usually meet on PWA events and don’t really spend time together, but in Ireland we were a small crew and the vibes were super nice. We were all suffering so sharing that with the other riders made everything much nicer. You clearly feel like everyone is watching you. There was always someone to film or photograph what you do, it is really impressive! My highs are that I did not suffer any serious injury, went for the craziest jumps of my life and I did not finish last. My low was the wave size and quality, I was hoping for more. I am 62 kg, the board I used was 66L with fins 15/9 set up as a thruster. My sails were GA 3.0m to 3.6m, mostly overpowered!
I suppose the best place to start is to say simply what a honour it is to be selected among the eight riders, sounds a bit cliché but it’s genuinely a dream come true! The other seven guys are sailors I look up to and just to be included with them is epic. Having found out you’re nominated and then it’s on, happens so fast it’s really a whirlwind after that. It’s really an event unlike anything I’ve ever been involved in and the RBSC team are incredible, definitely felt like a rock star for those 4 days… we even had guys to de-rig our gear which was quite a weird experience! Getting caught up in it all perhaps made the conditions more of a shock than I’d expected, coming from the UK. Sailing in the winter most years I thought I’d be used to the cold, but it was just so much colder than I’d expected, turns out Cornwall really is tropical! Part of me really loves just being out in those conditions, freezing cold and 60-70 knots. One squall came through in a heat I had with Leon and it was like being in a blizzard, full on snow and I could hardly waterstart it was so windy. The vision of snow with the big rolling swell and speed of the wind gusts on the water will stick with me forever, such an epic sight. The hood and crash jacket didn’t affect my sailing too much. I really struggled with the gloves though, I just couldn’t get used to even the palm-less mittens, the boom kept just slipping out of my hands at really key moments. Just how cold my hands were is something I really hadn’t expected, even with all the adrenaline it didn’t hurt any less! If the first day was the coldest, the second day was definitely the windiest, I would say the windiest I’ve ever sailed in, they were getting 70 knot gusts on the beach, I mean people were getting blown over just stood on the beach! I had an 80 litre Fanatic Grip and a 3.4 which normally feels pretty small and it felt huge in those conditions! Probably going for a stalled forward that afternoon was the scariest point of the event, going up in the air was like the worst turbulence on a flight you’ve ever had, you were just moving up and down in the air, just trying to hold on for dear life. Personally one of the things I really loved from the event and something that really made the event something special was hanging out with the other seven riders in Ireland for a few days, that was just awesome. We had a lot of laughs and I think because we’re not really sailing against each other in those heats it means we all kind of relaxed a bit more with each other. I think Robby mentioned it’s the people that make being a competitive windsurfer the pleasure that it is and I couldn’t agree more!
It’s always tricky with events because they are a competition and you want to do your best, I’d just recovered from an ear surgery and a knee injury so I’d only been able to sail the day before we left for the storm chase, perhaps that would be my only regret but then it’s hard because I couldn’t really do much about it and I just loved the experience of the event anyway. Having had a couple of days to process it all, all I can say is it was such an incredible experience, it’s really hard to describe, there are so many insane moments over those days that I’ll never forget, so grateful to have been able to compete and can’t wait to see if there will be another! Really have to thank the whole RBSC team and the boys for making it so amazing!
I had just arrived in Thailand for the next board production and for some fine tuning on my current boards, I literally landed and had the warning we would go green light! Luckily I had enough time to give instructions to the Factory so they could start working. It is a unique experience, to see a storm heading to a place on earth just using weather maps and then head there with a minimal amount of time together with a massive crew and riders from all over the world. The logistics must have been crazy.
I personally did not do so well, I have been working a lot the last few months for my brand and have not been able to work on my fitness much, that combined with the cold made it tough to sail as I usually do. I still enjoyed every moment and never gave up, it was a battle! I have been in Ireland several times and as always, this country is amazing, amazingly beautiful and the people are amazingly friendly. It was mainly my hands that were freezing, the consequence was that my forearms were cramping. That meant I lost all power to hold on to the sail. It was frustrating when you want to hold on and just can’t because your muscles fail! I actually thought it would be much worse, but for me it was fine sailing with all the winter gear on. The conditions were very extreme and I think I was far away from my comfort zone to go that big. Maybe I should have taken a smaller sail than a 3.7m, maybe it would have not made a difference, who knows? On the second day it was just hell windy, 3.7m was too big for me! Way too big! I could hardly walk with the gear let alone perform with it. I have never ever in my life felt fear ever in the water, until the beginning of the second heat of day one. I wanted to go big and went for a stalled double on 4.0 maxed out. I honestly did not think much on how to pull it off, I just saw a massive ramp and went for it! I went up, pulled the trigger, rotated one time and then another half and crashed into the ocean with a lot of impact as I was high and in a rotating move. Also when it is that windy the surface is hard. It felt like concrete. I remember the impact and then it all went black. I was gone for some seconds and then came back with the biggest fear ever, it was like waking up during your worst nightmare. Horrible feeling. All I wanted to do after that was to cry. I have never felt something like that before in my life, scary. After that I was dizzy the rest of the day, so I spent my last heat taking it “easy” and decided to take a check-up at the local hospital where I spent the night in observation and had a CT scan of my head. This is not an excuse of my performance or final result, but of course this made me lower one or two gears with my commitment to go big on the second day. I just tried to catch the biggest waves and actually had a lot of fun! I would have liked to go big again but with the cold and my fitness I could just not play the game!
I am 90 kg of pure muscle! (laughs) and my smallest board was the Bruch Boards Madness 85 and biggest the Madness 90, fitted with thruster fins, 18+11 and 19+12 cm. Sails were GA 3.7m, 4.0m, 4.2m, 4.5m and 5.0m.
JOBST VON PAEPCKE – EVENT ORGANISER
We finally scored in the last days of the waiting period in year number three! We had to wait three seasons without actually scoring and it was not like we missed any storms. It was simply that the seasons were pretty calm. It almost seemed that the way the weather was shaping up our event was going to be impossible. ‘Storm Chase’ is not a one man show, the whole ‘Storm Chase’ family has to deliver his or her part as well as the riders of course. This means you have to be dedicated and sacrifice aspects of your life. It meant people had to be prepared to put everything to the side at the last minute no matter what family commitments you had at the time. We were constantly preparing and putting away equipment every time the forecast changed. By the end of season two I could not believe that we had not scored anything. By season three I felt people had started to stop believing in the ‘Storm Chase’. Everybody thought it was never going to happen; I can understand this. This project was from our hearts and it was painful to see it dying. So pulling this off at the last second was such a relief and it was so amazing. It just shows if you try hard enough what is achievable. I think we all deserved this storm I guess!
We had amazing conditions in previous ‘Storm Chases’, with wild conditions and huge waves, and the audience seemed to love that brutality. But it made it difficult for the riders to perform. It was more survival mode. The performance level was probably not so high. Magheroarty really delivered what we were looking for. Both Finn and Timo Mullen told us this spot was made for ‘Storm Chase’ and this storm proved it. It had a bit of everything, XXL wind and XXL waves, which helped up the performance of the riders. The conditions I think were amongst the best we have had in the ‘Storm Chase’ series. We also had the snow, rain, hail and low temperatures to add to the drama. The mountains were full of snow and the scenery was incredible. This mixture from the visual aspect was very nice, but tough for the riders to perform in. You have to appreciate what the riders were doing in those temperatures. I was very impressed. Overall Magheroarty was the dream spot for storm chasing because we could operate in a perfect environment with scenery, conditions and a sheltered harbour for the jet-ski access. I am super stoked that we finally made it after so many years.
There will always be people online that will say you are following the wrong storm. This time I don’t care what they say as I feel we scored so well. Everyone from the outside that may have doubted us…trust me, they were wrong! I think I can speak for the whole team, everybody is just over the moon with the way this storm panned out. Waiting so long for a result like that makes it even better!