These guys have freerun a 21m sailboat

Jason Paul and Pasha Petkuns find an unlikely place to practise their sport – in the ocean.
By Evan David

Freerunning got its start in the streets and buildings of cities as athletes found new ways to move around the world they lived in. This past week in Newport, Rhode Island, two of the world’s best freerunners found more new ways to move – in another truly new location: the boats of the Volvo Ocean Race.

Check out the video below

Docked at Fort Adams State Park in Newport, Rhode Island, USA on a stop-over from their round-the-world regatta, the 21m sailing speed machines are regularly seen with sailors jumping all over them as crews shift and move during the race – and they've definitely seen some action. But neither the boats nor the crew had ever seen anything like Jason Paul and Pasha Petkuns. Before hitting the ocean, the pair warmed up on the nearby Ft Adams.

Flipping off over the fort

Free running on... boats?
Double trouble © Ainhoa Sánchez / Volvo Ocean Race

“The fort was crazy! You had a lot of green grass and a lot of stone walls, which made for both soft landings and some hard hits," Petkuns said.

"But it was awesome – although one of the biggest challenges was knowing if the rock was going to hold. We did a lot of flips and rolls, then got to the boats for some more action," he added.

Flipping the fort

Free running on... boats?
Grass hurts less © Ainhoa Sánchez / Volvo Ocean Race

It was going to be a first – freerunning has been taken incredible places, but to no one’s knowledge has anyone done it on a world-class racing sailboat.

Bouncing over the boat

Free running on... boats?
Spotting the landing © Ainhoa Sánchez / Volvo Ocean Race

If the fort was a near-perfect playground for freerunning, the boats were anything but – in some ways.

“The boats are designed to keep the sailors safe as they’re racing – but that makes it dangerous for freerunners. There’s a lot of places you can trip or turn an ankle," says Petkuns.

Nevertheless, he and Paul made it work. They warmed with the boats at the dock – then took to the sea for some ocean-motion action.

“It was cool to show all these guys – who run around their boats all day, every day - what we could do," Paul said. 

Sending it to the sea

Free running on... boats?
That's one way to exit the boat © Ainhoa Sánchez / Volvo Ocean Race

Of course, once the boats were in the ocean, there was another (expected) twist: the boats aren’t level when they’re under sail power – they’ll be leaning at up to a 45 degree angle, depending on wind strength.

While this was a disadvantage, the boats offered the chance to do something truly awesome: set-up a mega-size rope swing. The freerunners grabbed a line at the top of the mast, then said ‘see ya later’ as they swung far out over the water.

“It’s a trick you’ll see people do with smaller day sailboats – but this takes it to a whole new level,” Paul said.

All in all, it was an experience both the freerunners and the sailors won’t soon forget.

“Freerunning is such a unique sport,” Petkuns said. “And this is probably the most unique place we’ve ever had the chance to take it.”


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