Nick Jacobsen is at it again. This time, he launches off into Orbit from a 65m crane arm on top of a massive cargo vessel into the Øresund Sea.
Words by Nick Jacobsen
The 1.0 Crane Jump
Let's rewind to the year 2011 - the year that put my name on the international kiteboarding scene. I was a 23 year old kid with big ambitions, endless curiosity and an underlying strive of something bigger and greater. I was channeling all my energy on the only thing that mattered; turning off my brain and just play with my kite. I was rapidly upping my skill set and pushing myself, but climbing up an old stranded vessel in Cape Town to launch myself off of was not an intentional career move at all. Back then, my risk assessment did not play a significant role, nor did the process of planning the production around it - I was a kid in a candy shop with a kite and a board.
Being me, with my own angle on the sport, drawn to some of the more risky sides, I have in recent years been faced with people questioning the evidently obvious; “you can’t do this forever - When are you getting too old for all of this? I must admit, age has never been a focus point or a scare for me, but I can’t just leave people hanging without an answer, so for several years I have been using the same, almost automatic reply: “I will carry on doing what I'm doing, as long as I feel like doing it”. I'm a firm believer of doing what you decide you can handle, and execute within your comfort zone and trust. Never let other people assess what’s right for you or what lies within your limits. That includes age.
The 2.0 Crane Jump
So let me fast forward almost a decade to the year 2020, with me sitting on top of a 60m high crane on a massive cargo vessel. Again.
This time, the stunt had had a different birth: I was more technically prepared, I had automatically put my risk assessment analysis into play and had five times as many cameras on the ship, positioned in angles I from experience know will work to get the best shots.
A shoot like this takes time, and I had a good while sitting on that crane, getting ready to jump, when it dawned on me: I have done this before, only this time the crane is much higher, my experience considerably greater and I was more familiar with my skill set and limits. The one thing that had remained the same was my passion going into the stunt. Suddenly I recognized the goosebumps that I know so well, and the crave for the quest. I had the exact same overshadowing thought as I had in 2011: this is the stuff I live for!
So, for those still questioning: Age is not an issue. Lack of passion and thriving is, and when you lose that, it’s over. Until then, you just get better.
The vessel travelling through Copenhagen was at dock for 1 week offloading cargo. I made sure to get in contact with the shipping company and the captain as early as I could, in order to make sure I had the best possible chance of making it all happen while the ship was adjacent.
"It was a pretty strict agenda we had that day"
A lot of different factors had to align for this jump to happen.
The shipping company gave us a window of approximately 5 hours for the whole thing to go down. This is part of the team going through the final details before setting sail towards the cargo ship.
"This image talks for itself. When doing something that requires my full focus, I always pick the perfect team to collaborate with. We are all aligned on what’s about to go down and attentive to each of our specific roles. This definitely contributes to the gratification you see in our faces on our way to the ship."
When arriving at Leap Heart (5 miles off the coast of Copenhagen) a ladder was thrown over the railing. I didn't think much of it at the beginning, but I quickly realised how sketchy boarding the vessel would be...
"Climbing up the ladder was definitely one of the scariest things in this jump."
After Titanic'ing for a few minutes, it was game time.
"For the mission to go smoothly, I knew we only had 10-12 minutes to launch the kite."
I've pumped my kite up at some incredible spots over the years, but this is definitely a pump station for the history books.
When planning the journey to the top of the crane, I broke it down into 4 phases:
Phase 1; Launching my kite in the safest possible way.
Flying a kite in areas surrounded by objects such as buildings, trees etc. can be really challenging due to gusty winds, and I therefore make sure to channel 100% of my focus on the control system.
"Behind my back I could see a drop of 20-25m off the side of the deck. It was a hot launch!"
Phase 2; Climbing the ladder.
I was attached with a wire to the operating house while controlling the kite and making sure we both got up safely.
"I really wanted to focus on safety. It might not look like it, but I really think through the whole thing."
Phase 3; Walking the crane arm
Before initiating the walk to the tip, I stopped for a minute to visualize and reflect.
This always helps me focus my mind-set and secure some small moments of stillness - I have to take it all in.
"The whole boat went completely silent as I begun to walk out on the arm of the crane. I could just feel the nervous tension."
When I got to the end of the crane, I felt the relief of the planning process finally being over, and I could fixate on the jump.
This time was spent sitting and waiting for the crane-operator to tilt the crane up to the maximum height of around 65m.
"I was so focused that I just forgot to be nervous. I was just waiting for that count down."
Phase 4; The Jump
When I launched myself off, I made sure to fly the kite as far away from the vessel as possible. I waited quite a while before initiating the loop. The kite loop always gets a little more thrilling when I am able to achieve the maximum speed possible to create more tension in the lines when pulling the loop.
"If I looped too low, the kite would most likely hit the boat. I had to time it perfectly."
The jump was done. Looking back at the vessel, I can't describe the huge satisfaction that I felt. Nothing beats it.
Watch the full Crane Jump 2.0 here.
Photo credits Daniel Folke.
Special thanks to T.K.B Shipping.