This week we had a chat with powerkiting pier-jumper and kitesurf guru, Mr. Jake Scrace. We’ve been in awe of Jake since we saw the infamous video of his jaw dropping jump over Worthing Pier in 2009, and now we are catching up with him to find out a bit more about the jump, and what he’s been up to since…
Hi Jake, thanks for talking to us today! So, first thing’s first, when and why did you fall in love with Kitesurfing?
No problem at all, it’s a pleasure. I got into PowerKites when I was 8 years old, which lead on to me being one of the pioneers of Kitesurfing when I was 13. Kitesurfing was something different, it was a new and exciting sport that really challenged me and gave something to focus my energy into and really get my adrenaline pumping.
How often are you out there riding?
Whenever the wind blows!
What weather conditions (apart from no wind), if any, would keep you dry?!
Lightning and thunderstorms… Well, at least when you can feel the static in your lines.
You’re probably most famous (among non-kitesurfers anyway) for your amazing jump over Worthing Pier – how was the idea to do that conceived?
The idea popped into my head about 5 years before the actual jump, after being able to see over the pier whilst jumping near it. I did run the idea by a few people, and at the time it stirred up quite a reaction. People thought the idea was ludicrous and dangerous, and they couldn’t see how it was possible.
We assume you didn’t go in blind – what did you take into account before making the jump?
I thought about my family and friends, whether it was really possible, if it was going to be worth doing, why I was doing it and what could happen if it went wrong.
Did you have a crew of spectators watching, or was it something you kept quiet?
I had one friend and my dog watching, and had decided to keep it quiet as I didn’t really think anyone would be that interested, but news obviously leaked out!
How do you feel about the people that didn’t believe it was real? In a way I think that’s quite flattering!
I think the fact that some people still think it’s a hoax has helped me realise and fully appreciate that what I did was quite an accomplishment. Luckily I still have some unreleased on board footage from the very first pier jump 😉
Not that we need to see any proof! Is this your best memory in the sport, or do you have another?
I have many happy memories from Kitesurfing and of course a few shockers. Riding my first home-made board was pretty awesome…
Nice! So how did you get into making your own boards?
Well, when I started kitesurfing there were no lessons, there was nobody to copy. The sport was so young I had to find my own way; there was nobody to help guide or tutor me. At that time there were only one or two boards available to buy and being a kid at the time it was not easy to find £400 to get myself one. If I hadn’t taught myself, made the mistakes I made, and gotten to know the rights and wrongs the hard way, I’d never have known how to make a board. It taught me to put together my own equipment.
So tell us about that first board.
I made it out of a piece of 9mm ply, sprayed it metallic purple/green, with a lightning strike on the bottom of it, attached a pair of wakeboard bindings to it, and took it to the water to where I was pleasantly surprised – it worked like a dream! I rode it for a year and a half before it snapped… which directly led me on to using fiberglass to make it stronger and lighter, with my mother whinging at me for stinking out the house from making the boards in the spare room! From finishing the first fiberglass board, and it had worked, i realized the potential it could have and proceeded to making and tweaking the designs to make one of the top performing kitesurf boards out there.
And you’re still making them?
I am, but due to each board being so specific to each rider’s style it takes a solid week to get each one just right! It would be great to have them rolled out on a production line then everybody could get a taster and feel of what its like to ride a board that’s ‘made for them.’ My boards are designed to ride in comfort, and go out in more intense conditions, provide more resistance between you and the kite, engage your rail with the water which will allow you to go even faster and give you a bigger jump!
Have you ever been injured while Kitesurfing?
I had my line snap; actually it was when I went out for a celebratory Kite session after jumping the pier! The line snapped, resulting in my being catapulted at speed, from a good 70ft high, straight into the water. I was coughing up blood afterwards, battered and bruised and concussed for a good few days.
Ouch… on a lighter note, what are your favourite UK Kitesurfing locations?
The Bluff in Cornwall, Goring and Daymer Bay are definitely amongst the best.
Have there been any big developments in the sport since you started, and do you see any coming in the future?
The sport has become a lot safer and has become very popular over the years, I think this will continue to increase, and with kitesurfing looking likely to be in the Olympics 2016, I think the sport has a bright future.
Yes, that’s huge, we reckon there’ll be lots of new kitesurfers in August 2016! So for those people or anyone starting out in Kitesurfing, what equipment would you recommend using ? How much do you think it realistically costs to set up and get into the sport?
It’s always worth buying used equipment that is in good condition, as new kites are quite pricey and the last thing you want to do is wreck your new equipment, which you are very, very likely to do! Also, getting a lesson from your nearest Kite school will save you a lot of time, teach you the basics, and keep you safe.
What tips would you advise for people looking to get started?
Personally I recommend buying a small powerkite 2-3m, going at your own pace and enjoying yourself rather than rushing into kitesurfing. Do your own research, look around and on the internet, get guidance from other kiters on forums, make it your own adventure.
Have you got any big jumps planned for the future? What’s next for Jake Scrace?
Stay tuned on that one, I will be keeping everyone up to date with things in the pipeline on twitter @Jake_Scrace. I don’t want to give any big secrets away just yet!
Well, we’ll definitely be keeping our eyes and ears open for Jake’s next move – we get the feeling that there’s plenty on the way!