Alex Aulbach spoke with him about how to literally jump off a building.
- How did you come up with such a unique Project Idea?
This idea started as a way to combine two sports that I love, wakeskating and BASE jumping. This had never been done before and I wanted to be the first. The idea was easy but executing took years or planning. We had the issue of how we were going to tow it. At the time we only had winches but there's really no way to do a wakeBASE with a winch and that is how we came up with the idea to pull it with a drone. These drones didnt exist so we had to build one and that took years. We need a location with high water too and originally were looking for waterfalls. We never found one that would work well for the project and then we saw they built the Address Beach Resort in Dubai. It's the highest pool in the world and setup perfectly for the wakeBASE so we did it there.
- From beginning to end, how long did the whole project take?
The idea started about 10 years ago. I was on another film project with Seb from Starelation. He has produced all my big RedBull projects and we were brainstorming new ideas and I told him about this one. We came up with the drone pull together and he started building the drones shortly after that. We did the first drone pulls in 2017. We shot the first drone video during a test in Slovenia in 2018 but we still didn't have a location for wakeBASE. Two years ago we found the Address Beach Resort and got the ball rolling again. I had already started BASE jumping in 2020 in anticipation for this project but had only jumped bridges. Last December we scouted the location and from there it was on. This year I trained with Miles Daisher all year and did 3 trips to europe to BASE jump and ride behind the drone. And then almost exactly one year to the day we scouted Dubai we completed the wakeBASE.
"The idea started about 10 years ago... We did the first drone pulls in 2017. We shot the first drone video during a test in Slovenia in 2018... I had started BASE jumping in 2020 in anticipation for this project."
Just stare at the this for a while and witness all it’s glory.
- What took the most time practicing for the project?
Was there something that seemed really easy at first but turned out to be hard or vice versa? It was all an experience of small steps that completed a bigger goal. There were so many parts to this project and it took a whole team to pull it off. This had never been done before so we had to figure out everything as we went. I focused most of my time on the BASE jumping. That's where I needed to level up the most so I felt comfortable in the air and could always get back to a safe position to deploy my parachute. That was also the most fun part of the whole experience going to Switzerland to jump with Miles. I learned so much and built so much confidence in the air.
- You spend a lot of time on Switzerland practicing for this project, why switzerland? And how many base jumps did you do prior to the project?
Switzerland is one of the best places to BASE jump in the world. There's like 20 exit points in the valley and you can progress from easier ones to harder, higher ones. There's trains and cable cars that access both sides of the valley so the hikes are all 30 minutes or less so you can get many jumps everyday. Its such a vibe there. I had 36 BASE jumps before this year and have 116 now - what does it feel like being pulled by a drone? Is it comparable to being pulled by a cable, or a boat or a winch for example? What’s the hard part about riding behind a drone? Yeah it's most similar to a cable pull but you can change the rope angle too. You need to have a good pilot to get the speed and line you want for what you are hitting. Someday soon they will be autonomous and that will make them more accessible for everyday riding. It opens up limitless opportunities in wake and other tow sports too.
"We built a simulation pool in Germany and rode that for a week to get the pilots and me totally dialed in together."
Nothing happens by accident. 10 Years in the making. 10 Seconds of crazy.
- You did help developing the EEIDO drones for that project, what was the hardest part about figuring out the right pull?
The drone has plenty of power so that was never an issue. The hardest part was getting the right speed at the right places in the pool. We built a simulation pool in Germany and rode that for a week to get the pilots and me totally dialed in together. I also had a 2 way communication with the pilot so I could get speed or drone altitude adjustments on the fly if needed. On the day of the project I had to get a perfect pull and I did! The board was tethered so once I was on the board there was no turning back. If the drone was too slow I would plop over the ramp and potentially hit the building. If the drone was too fast I would of probably get pulling off my board early and possibly get hung up in the tether which could have been deadly.
- Do you have any future projects in mind?
Yeah I always have some ideas I'm working on both in wakeskating and foiling. No doubt the drone will open up some doors for us. But it feels good to complete the wakeBASE project so I'm going to enjoy this one!