Experience what a force 9 gale feels like

Does this look windy to you? It’s not even what the Red Bull Storm Chase guys will windsurf in.
By Dom Granger

Not many people like to go outside when it’s windy. We could even go as far as saying that for most people, wind is pretty annoying. But not for pro windsurfer Leon Jamaer and his fellow Red Bull Storm Chase competitors – wind is what they're waiting for.

In the heart of the beast

Windsurfer Leon Jamaer in the wind tunnel  in Stuttgart, Germany
In the very heart of the wind tunnel © Lars Jacobsen / Red Bull Storm Chase

The boys are indeed waiting for the call to come that will tell them when and where to go, with all their gear, ready to face force 10 winds.

But what do such strong winds feel like?

According to the Beaufort scale, which is the official empirical measure that relates wind-speed to observed conditions, force 10, or 'full storm 'winds will create waves that are seven to 10 metres high, with winds ranging from 89kph to 102kph (or 48-55 knots, if you prefer). On land, such winds often break or uproot trees and create structural damage.

A bit like this? No. Much more.

Reporter testing high winds with windsurf sail in a Wind Tunnel in Stuttgart, Germany
Windsurfing is harder than you think © Lars Jacobsen / Red Bull Storm Chase

So when we were invited to go with Jamaer to test out wind speeds in a wind tunnel in Stuttgart, Germany, (in a safe environment for us mere mortals), we jumped at the opportunity.

This made for a fun 'session' on a windsurfboard in 30-40kph winds, races against the wind, attempts to open car doors, trying to fly around and other silly and fun attempts, in winds up to 80kph.

A steady 80kph can look like this

Reporter testing wind speeds in wind tunnel in Stuttgart, Germany
Sometimes you end up in funny situations © Lars Jacobsen / Red Bull Storm Chase

Unfortunately, due to safety reasons in the wind tunnel, we couldn’t experience the full force 10 winds, but after seeing this clip, you will quickly understand how much the Storm Chase athletes need to be at the top of their game, even just to walk on the beach with their gear in hand – let alone riding in an angry ocean. 

Just trying to fly away

Reporter testing wind speeds in wind tunnel in Stuttgart, Germany
Normally it should be mouth closed, eyes open © Lars Jacobsen / Red Bull Storm Chase

Don’t miss any of the Red Bull Storm Chase action: follow the Facebook page to make sure you know when they give the go ahead, and keep an eye on the page for all things Storm Chase.

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