Boards catches up with the only Brit to make it in the Red Bull Storm Chase, Robby Swift. We find out more about that push loop forward, breaking boards and why he’s already having an even smaller sail made!
Where were you when you found out the chase was on?
I was in San Francisco airport on my way back from Maui to Chile.
Did you immediately think it would actually happen this time, or were you still relaxed?
I had my doubts as so many had been cancelled before but I know we need to finish three missions before June so we would have to go sooner or later. It was a very good call in the end!
How was your journey over?
Awful! Santiago, Panama, Houston, San Francisco, Maui for eight hours, Denver, Frankfurt, Dublin.
What were conditions like when you first got there?
Ridiculous. I didn’t think we would be able to sail at all. I could hardly walk down the beach.
Have you sailed Brandon much before? How did these conditions compare?
Yes many times for BWA (back in the day) and then the PWA events that happened there. It was actually pretty fun sailing in one heat, when it was only about 50knots. The heats where it was 60-70 knots were ridiculous. It was scary! I love Brandon Bay, there are so many options to sail there in all different wind directions.
What equipment were you using?
I used a 75L single thruster and my 3.4 Combat. I also borrowed a 2.5 custom sail cut down from an old 3.2 Combat from Rob Jones for one heat. I could hardly even sail on that!
Please try and describe how insane it was to be sailing in 70 knots?
It was 50-70knots! It’s hard to describe how hard it was. I couldn’t walk down the beach with my gear. Rob had to help me every time. I didn’t think I would even be able to waterstart. It wasn’t that hard to waterstart in the end but sailing along, I felt like the sail would rip from my hands at any time. I was afraid to do even the smallest jump as I thought the wind would just whip the gear out of my hands. Sometimes you would be sailing along, completely out of control, and you would see a gust up ahead with water flying everywhere and just think: how am I going to survive that?
What was the best thing you pulled off do you think? and how did the judges score it?
I somehow managed to pull off the best push loop forward of my life. It was insane. I had a slight lull on that run out. It was probably only about 50 knots, and I had just landed a huge backloop. I had told everyone that I wanted to do a push forward and they all laughed at me, so when I saw that ramp I said to myself: you had better do it now! I launched into the air, much higher than usual with the insane wind, and did the push loop. I got scared after that and almost didn’t sheet in for the forward, but then I said just go for it, and threw all caution to the wind, so to speak. Anything could have happened. I don’t want to think about what would have happened if a gust would have hit me at that moment. I spun round surprisingly in control and spotted my landing from way up on the air. I knew it would be hard to hold on so I slipped my front thumb around from on top of the boom to underneath so I had the boom in a death grip. I almost over rotated but somehow had the presence of mind to sheet out completely to stop the rotation and just landed completely flat. It buckled my knees and snapped the board. It was probably the hardest landing of my life but it felt very good!
The judges all gave it an instant 10. They said there was no deliberation. It was the highest scoring move of the event so I was happy I got up the guts to do it!
THAT push loop forward – at 30secs!
How will you approach things differently for the next storm?
I am definitely taking a 3.0! Robert Stroj, the NeilPryde designer is making me one as we speak.
Who’s your bet on for the overall winner of the chase?
I still fancy my own chances. You have to don’t you, if you want to win! I beat everyone in the Ireland chase on jumping by quite a long way. I hardly did any wave rides though as I missed almost all of my second heat with the broken board, and the first and last heats I did were so windy that I simply couldn’t bottom turn.
Brawzinho would be another favorite, and Victor. If the wind is a little more manageable, I think those two have a lot more to offer than we saw in the first chase!
Wishing Robby and the other guys lots of luck for the next storm, whenever it may be. You can follow all the action here on Boards of course.