Jaan Roose balances on a 1.9cm slackline in Italy as he attempts to cross the Messina Strait
© Matteo Mocellin/Red Bull Content Pool
Slacklining

Slackline spectacle: Roose's stunning 3.6km walk across Messina Strait

The phenomenal Estonian slackliner traversed over 3,600m on a thin slackline from the Italian mainland to Sicily, with the final metres becoming especially intense.
Written by Agnes Aneboda
4 min readPublished on
Daring adventurer Jaan Roose set out to conquer what nobody had done before: walking the Messina Strait, a body of water that runs between the island of Sicily and mainland Italy, on a 1.9cm thin slackline. For the feat, the 32-year-old Estonian had to cover over 3,640m. On his way, he surpassed the previous longest slackline walk of 2,710m - but fell short of achieving a new world record, as he fell just a few metres out from the finish line.
Re-watch the jaw-dropping action on Red Bull TV:

Jaan Roose crosses Messina Strait on a slackline

Jaan Roose makes history as he becomes the first to walk the Messina Strait on a 1,9cm slackline.

For three hours Jaan Roose put on an awe-inspiring show of skill, focus, and balance, pulling off an unprecedented feat. He started in Santa Trada, Calabria, and ended in Torre Faro, Sicily, making this crossing an epic adventure. The massive distance, tricky weather, and environmental hurdles added to the challenge.

Why did Jaan Roose pick the Messina Strait?

Jaan Roose walks the Messina Strait on a 1.9cm slackline as the first man in history

View of the Messina Strait

© Andrea Zaffaroni / Red Bull Content Pool

The Messina Strait is a narrow channel on the Mediterranean Sea, dividing Italy's Calabria region from the island of Sicily. For centuries, the notion of traversing this strait seemed as mythical as the legends described in Homer's work The Odyssey, where sea monsters created dangerous whirlpools in these waters.
However, Roose aimed to turn this dream into reality by slacklining between two iconic steel structures, the Pylons of Messina, on the longest slackline in history. “The strait possesses historical and cultural significance going back thousands of years," Roose explained. "Combined with variable weather conditions and strong marine currents, it offered a unique and meaningful opportunity to push the limits of slacklining.”

How was the slackline set up?

Jaan Roose's slackline was spanned between two old power pylons at the Messina Strait

The slackline was spanned between two old power pylons

© Matteo Mocellin / Red Bull Content Pool

The slackline was strung between old power line pylons with varying heights, demanding spot-on precision. An eight-person team, including Roose, set it up with meticulous care. The process involved a helicopter carrying a pilot rope to guide the slackline into place, marking the longest in history.
The line was then tensioned using a custom-built winch system.
On the day of the crossing, Roose started by climbing a 265-meter tower on the Italian mainland. He then began his journey on the slackline, initially descending until he reached the lowest point, which was a challenging 100 meters above the water. In the final stage, Roose ascended 130 meters to reach the endpoint on Sicily’s Torre Faro tower.

Why did the world record not count?

Just 80 meters before the finish, Roose fell off the slackline. Despite walking a distance surpassing the previous world record of 2,710 metres, the rules of the sportive discipline require a complete crossing without a fall to validate a new record. Consequently, his fall in the final stretch invalidated what would have been a remarkable new world record.

A true slacklining legend

Jaan Roose celebrates crossing the Messina Strait on a slackliner in a world record attempt

Jaan Roose celebrates crossing the Messina Strait

© Gabriele Seghizzi / Red Bull Content Pool

Roose's achievement of walking 3.6km across the Messina Strait is not just a sporting milestone but a symbol of resilience and determination. Even though the Estonian fell off the slackline after having walked for almost three hours and being so close to the slackline world record, he found the mental strength to continue to walk. Roose got himself up again and kept walking until he reached the pylon on the other end - to become the first human to cross the Messina Strait on a slackline.
“I feel 'jaantastic,' I am super happy, a bit tired and worn out...", he said at the finish. "I made history", Roose added, "I walked 3.6 km across the Strait of Messina! It was a long walk, full of surprises from start to finish, I had some difficulties, but the weather was good, I expected more wind.”
It was a long walk, full of surprises from start to finish
Jaan Roose
01

Who is Jaan Roose?

Jaan Roose (EST) perfoming between Crescent (Katara) building Towers in Doha, Qatar on June 20, 2023.

Jaan Roose slacklines between two buildings in Doha, Qatar

© Volodya Voronin/Red Bull Content Pool

32-year old Estonian Jaan Roose is a three-time world slacklining champion - and the first and only athlete to perform a double backflip on a slackline. Roose is also the holder of numerous world records and world-firsts in the sport.
His ability has also led to him performing as a stuntman in Hollywood films, including Assassin's Creed, and appearing in Madonna's MDNA World Tour.
As well as entering competitions, Roose loves nothing more than travelling the world and showcasing his incredible talent. Explore his latest slacklining adventures here.
02

How does he stay focused on the slackline?

Jaan Roose photographed slacklining in Samburu County in Kenya, 2022.

Roose slacklines in Samburu County, Kenya

© Migwa Nthiga/Red Bull Content Pool

Roose stays focused when slacklining through his remarkable ability to hyper-focus. When he concentrates on the line, he becomes so absorbed that he can tune out the surrounding noise, like cars, factory sounds and wind, maintaining his balance and concentration. However, he acknowledges that this intense focus can be a drawback, especially when highlining, as it's crucial to stay aware of his environment.
Roose explains that solely focusing on the line can be risky, as he might miss important cues like a nearby drone or birds. To manage this, he continuously shifts his focus, adapting to both the line and his surroundings. In challenging situations, he uses breathwork to calm himself and enhance his concentration.

Part of this story

Messina Crossing

Jaan Roose attempted a new world record during the first slackline walk across the Messina Strait.

Italy

Jaan Roose

Known for possessing nerves of steel, Estonian slackliner Jaan Roose is a 3-time world champion and the holder of numerous world records.

EstoniaEstonia