France’s Thomas Traversa proves to be the undisputed, ultimate storm windsurfer, winning the Red Bull Storm Chase final after a thrilling third mission to Cornwall, U.K. Marcilio Browne (BRA) secured the runner-up spot, with Leon Jamaer (GER) in third place and Dany Bruch (GER) in fourth position.
Red Bull Storm Chase has delivered a new era of windsurfing performance. Previously, nobody thought it was possible to even sail in the strength of storm-force winds that each mission delivered. But after seeing just how radical the world’s best sailors are, how high they could jump – and the quality and style of the waveriding on display, a new standard has been set. Neither cold water, wind in excess of 70 knots or giant, bonecrunching swell has deterred any of the superhero sailors on each mission.
For the final mission, England’s West Country supplied near Hurricane-force wind and 10- metre waves that fully tested the world’s best windsurfers, including the current World Champion, Marcilio Browne. After summoning the entrants from their training bases in South Africa, Hawai’i and the Canary islands, five rounds were run over February 8/9th at two locations in St. Ives Bay.
On Saturday, a grueling onshore-wind session at Gwithian saw two rounds of competition completed in massive swell. It was no surprise then, following some more conservative starts by his rivals in the relentless walls of whitewater, to see Traversa the first to scream straight out the back, launch himself into a range of stratospheric jumps, including some seriously delayed forward loops – and then drop into a 35-foot wave coming in. Competition was restricted to just two rounds due to the powerful storm surge pushing the tide in fast, before a move to nearby spot The Bluff, which offered side to side-off, port-tack conditions with surf peaking at well over mast-high. This time however, the 28-year-old from the South of France had stiffer competition from his rivals to contend with. A barrage of jaw-dropping, late hits from all four finalists under the dredging sandbank closeouts ensued, the daring smacks resulting in both stunning success and a pile of destroyed equipment.
On Sunday the wind levels were lower, but the powerful surf remained and a full round completed in the morning delighted fans of jumping moves, such as the perfect, high, pushloop-forward completed by ‘Brawzinho’ Browne and a host of other super-high jumps launched off 20-foot-high ramps. The judges calculated the points – counting each sailor’s best five wave and jumping scores from throughout the mission – and added their bonus points for the highest jumps and most radical wave rides before declaring Traversa victorious.
A mighty winter low-pressure system kicked-off the Red Bull Storm Chase in Ireland back in January 2013. Ten publically nominated pro sailors competed in 70-knot winds in County Kerry and redefined what was previously thought possible that windsurfers could achieve in such strong wind. After sessions at two spots in Brandon Bay, four were eliminated and six advanced, when the call came to Mission 2 in Tasmania.
There, the austral winter served-up a fierce Great Southern Ocean cyclone that sent double-mast-high waves and seriously strong wind towards the North West Coast near Marrawah. Two days of non-stop competition, in a range of hard-core reef setups, allowed the judging panel – lead by PWA World Tour Head Judge Duncan Coombs – to fully examine the fleet and decide which four storm chasers would advance to the third and final mission.
Much has been said – mainly by his contemporaries – about Thomas Traversa, who weighs-in at just 60 kilos, being a heavyweight contender in seriously strong wind. Traversa is a calm quiet personality, but, out on the water he is simply fearless and lets his sailing do all his talking. Always well-known as a radical free sailor and adventurer, the prestigious Red Bull Storm Chase title rewards his progress in all competition in recent seasons. Many pro windsurfers pursue perfect waves in warm, tropical water, yet Traversa is a genuine storm chaser that revels in tracking and conquering the heaviest conditions possible.
To see the action, a highlight clip from Cornwall will be released on Monday February 10th, followed by an overall highlight movie on Monday 17th. The photo gallery will also be extended and all the material will be available to view at www.redbullstormchase.com
Red Bull Storm Chase, Final Results: 1. Thomas Traversa (France) 2. Marcilio Browne (Brazil) 3. Leon Jamaer (Germany) 4. Dany Bruch (Germany)
About Red Bull Storm Chase Red Bull Storm Chase is the most-challenging windsurfing contest of all time, with a waiting period that started back in August 2012. By hunting down three massive storms around the globe, ten of the world’s best sailors entered the battle for the crown of ultimate storm windsurfer. With waiting periods spanning the main global storm seasons, ten courageous windsurfers – nominated via public voting – were on standby to hunt down three massive storms, with seven previously nominated destinations featuring as possible competition spots. Four of the original fleet were eliminated during the first mission in Brandon Bay, Ireland, at the end of January 2013. From July 22, 2013, the six remaining windsurfers were on standby for the second mission, held in Tasmania, Australia, last August. Out of these six athletes, four emerged as qualifiers for the third and final mission to crown the victorious Red Bull Storm Chase Champion of 2014. To catch raging conditions, the participants have to be flexible-to-the-max during the holding period with just 48-hours to mobilise on-site before the next storm strikes.
Quotes Red Bull Storm Chase Finalists in order of results:
Thomas Traversa, Storm Chaser (FRA) – WINNER
"I feel super happy to win this – even happier than when I won the PWA Worldcup in Denmark and, yeah, especially to show what I can do in big, gnarly conditions because, for me, that’s really why I windsurf, so to be here in Cornwall and to have visited Tasmania and Ireland with these amazing riders is a privilege."
Marcilio "Brawzinho" Browne, Storm Chaser (BRA) - 2nd Place
"It was insane and, for me, it was a new level of cold and intense windsurfing that I’ve never experienced before and I’m happy as it was a really big challenge to deal with this kind of weather. I was already stoked just to be in the final mission and so to finish second for me is unreal and I’m really happy but super happy for Thomas as well – he’s so skinny and light - but he’s been sailing in the strong winds like a mad man, it’s so good for him!"
Leon Jamaer, Storm Chaser (GER) – 3rd Place
"Since we went on standby we’ve flown around the world a few times and I think we scored the best conditions I’ve ever experienced in a contest. Now we’re all stoked it’s done. Thomas won every mission and he deserved to win the title so we’re looking forward to celebrating with him tonight."
Dany Bruch, Storm Chaser (GER) – 4th Place
"It’s over, and there have been three great missions, where somehow it always came together for a perfect storm at each destination. I’d have loved to have done a bit better in this one, but it just wasn’t meant to be, I did all I could and it just didn’t work out, but I’m happy to have been part of it all."
Quote Red Bull Storm Chase Head Judge Duncan Coombs:
"So that’s it, the end of the final Mission, here in Cornwall, an epic way to end it, with conditions equal to, if not better than the setups we scored in Ireland and Tasmania - the perfect three missions really, nobody got hurt and I think the best man won. Thomas Traversa seems to have something special when it comes to storm chasing, in both jumping and wave riding skill. I think he’s completely nuts really. [In comparison to the PWA tour] I think the world tours seen some epic events, but you can’t often get a good contest if you set a date in stone, so the beauty of the Red Bull Storm Chase concept is that you’re always going to get optimum conditions – especially with such a late call based on a good forecast to mobilise."