Watch a Slackline 88 Feet Up ... Between Two Boats

In his most creative stunt yet, Mich Kemeter does a slackline above the ocean – using two sailboats.
By Josh Sampiero

Using two Volvos that travel the ocean, rather than the road, Mich Kemeter attempted a feat of balance akin to the one-and-only Jean-Claude Van Damme.

See the sailboat slackline video above

Standing 88 feet above the water, Kemeter attempted to traverse a slackline strung between the masts of two Volvo Ocean 65 raceboats during the Volvo Ocean Race. Go ahead, click play – and don't worry, there's no Enya.

The first thing you need to know? He didn't make the full line – only managing half of the 72-foot distance. But even that was an impressive feat and here's why...

Was it even physically possible – not for Mich, but for the capacity of the boat's masts to withstand the strain of the tight rope and a walker? Out of six boats in the Volvo Ocean Race, only two – Team SCA and Alvimedica – were up for the engineering (and safety) challenge. 

The police couldn't prevent other boats from passing . . . every time a boat passed, it's wake would rock the sailboats

What about the slackline, itself? Mich also needed to acquire a custom-built, high-tension, lightweight slackline from Landcruising Slacklines and work closely with the professional boat riggers to get it set up.

The biggest challenge became the two points of attachment for the high-performance slackline. Most slacklines are attached to two solid points – giving stability and security to the line – and allow the slackliner to choose a focus point at the end of the traverse.

Everything is moving without a rhythm and that's the death of balance

When the slackline is strung between the masts of two boats, it is neither solid nor stable – a big difference from other challenging lines he's done, such as this cold-weather walk above Austria.

See the coldest, craziest slackline below

“The line was fixed at about 330-lbs of pressure, but as the boats moved that pressure would change by as much as 88-lbs in direction," Mich said, "Meaning there was a lot of change in the tension beneath my feet."

Challenging, for sure, but even more so with the motion of the boats. Each boat had four anchor lines holding it in place and while winds were very light, the water surface was anything but stable.

In a different situation, I think it's possible . . . We'll go for it again as soon as we have the chance

“The police couldn't prevent other boats from passing near, so every time a boat passed, it's wake would rock the sailboats," Mich said. "Everything is moving without a rhythm and that's the death of balance – you find a point of balance at your center, but in the next half-second it's somewhere else and in the next half-second, somewhere else again. That makes it really spicy!”

This is harder than walking the plank © Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race

Mich was able to make approximately 30 attempts at one of the most difficult crossings he's ever tried, but each time, movement from the boats sent him (safely) tumbling off the line.

What's next? Simple: He wants to try again. “In a different situation, I think it's possible,” Mich said. “We'll go for it again as soon as we have the chance!”

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