Extreme sports enthusiast Brian Grubb makes history combining wakeskating with base jumping in an epic leap off a building in Dubai

I became lost in the moment as I glided on the water for 94 meters. My pulse quickened and pure joy filled my heart. At the edge, I leaped out and free fell for 294 meters. Armed with all my training, I felt completely present, enjoying the feeling of the fall.

  • 5 months ago
  • February 4, 2024
6 min read
journalist’s notes
interview subject
Brian Grubb, a world champion in wakeskating, hails from Nashua, New Hampshire. His affinity for water began at a young age, learning to water ski. He spent summers by a lake in Indiana and his eventual move to Florida expanded his horizons, especially in the realm of wakeboarding. Grubb turned professional at 23 and quickly made a mark, winning the National and World Wakeskate Championships in 2003 as a rookie. Beyond competitions, he has extensively traveled the globe. A three-time wakeskating world champion, Grubb made headlines on December 4, 2023, when he executed a daring 294-meter jump from the world’s longest infinity pool in Dubai, setting a remarkable milestone in his illustrious career. Learn more about his achievements on Red Bull’s official page.
background information
Wakeskating, a modified version of wakeboarding, distinguishes itself by not attaching riders to the board, presenting a realm of new challenges and tricks. Unlike wakeboarding, wakeskaters are not bound to their boards with boots; instead, the top surface is covered with sandpaper or soft foam for traction, and special shoes can also be utilized. Originating in the late 1970s, wakeskating introduced the concept of binding-free boards, initially featuring long surf-style boards. Over time, the sport evolved with smaller boards, enabling greater potential for tricks like wake jumps and ollies. Despite facing challenges and a lull in popularity during a shift towards board bindings in the water sports industry, wakeskating gained traction in the mid-1990s in the United States and has since seen continuous growth, captivating a global audience. For further insights into wakeskating, explore here.

DUBAI, Arab Emirates — After wakeboarding for 20 years and skydiving for 15, I thought, “How cool to fuse these sports in a way that’s never been done before.” Driven by an insatiable desire to challenge myself, I became the first person in history to WakeBASE.

[WakeBASE combines wakeskating and base jumping. Unlike wakeboarding where the rider’s feet are strapped to the board, they remain unattached to the board in wakeskating. A drone pulls the rider forward and when they reach the edge, they base jump from a high elevation.]  

In December 2023, I stood at the edge of the highest infinity pool in the world at the Address Beach Resort in Dubai. As I looked out at the pool, I took a moment to gather my thoughts and breathe. I got on my board and as the drone blades spun loudly, the pilot began counting down: “Three, two, one.” Then, the drone shot me across the pool with one chance to execute this extreme feat. Now, fueled by my success, I am planning new projects. I want to push my boundaries and set the stage for even more daring attempts.

Read more harrowing Sports stories from individuals around the globe at Orato World Media.

Evolution of a water enthusiast: wakeskating the Rice Terraces of the Philippines and the Dragon’s Tail in Bosnia

My affinity for water traces back to my grandparents’ house in Florida, participating before I even learned to read or write. By the age of 10, I embarked on an exciting journey in aquatic sports. Growing up on a lake, I transitioned from wakeboarding to wakeskating and dreamed of ways this emerging sport would evolve.

Over the years, I participated in events and won championships. Then, a crucial turning point came in 2001 when Red Bull offered to sponsor me. Together, we took on awe-inspiring projects like my conquest of the ancient Rice Terraces in the Banaue region of the Philippines.

I first saw the Rice Terraces depicted on the back of a thousand-peso bill. The incredible view of the 2,000-year-old pools, intricately carved into the slopes of the mountains, mesmerized me. A vision emerged in my mind of wakeskating there.

Amid the breathtaking landscape, which featured four pools spanning 80 meters, we intentionally developed a simple setup. Using a winch to pull me forward, I would wakeskate across the first pool. Then, I would slide down a wooden strip made of log to the lower pool. Tackling the Rice Terraces on my wakeboard gave me an unparalleled adrenaline rush.

In another unforgettable moment, I wakeskated the Dragon’s Tail at Mount Bjelasnica in Bosnia’s Studeni Potok valley. Navigating the frozen surface on my wakeskate, I executed spins and slides in flawless moments of both challenge and serenity.

With wakeskating achievements like this under my belt, I began dreaming about pushing the boundaries even further. I wanted to fuse wakeskating with base jumping. I yearned to take on an extreme and extraordinary project, pushing my limits to the maximum. In that moment, the idea of the WakeBASE project came to life.

We tested every detail of my historic WakeBASE jump in Dubai: when my feet hit the sand I knew I was living my dream

To achieve my goal of combining wakeskating and base jumping, my team and I created a custom drone, capable of pulling me forward. Managing the algorithm became crucial. We needed to ensure the drone did not alter my direction mid-jump. I sought the expertise of Miles Daisher, a legend in base jumping with over 4,500 registered jumps. He taught us invaluable lessons including how to react to unforeseen circumstances. We meticulously tested every detail.

When I stepped out on the terrace in Dubai for my historic WakeBASE jump, it felt tailor-made for our adventure. From the pool’s perfect curve to the spacious landing area below with its silver sand, I felt ready. We had dedicated countless days that summer alongside the production team executing jumps.

There, on the terrace, I double checked my equipment, verified the weather conditions, and confirmed the perfect winds. Instead of fear, a surge of energy coursed through my body. As the pool stretched out in front of me, I took a deep breathe, got on my board, and let the drone pull me forward.

I became lost in the moment as I glided on the water for 94 meters. My pulse quickened and pure joy filled my heart. At the edge, I leaped out and free fell for 294 meters. Armed with all my training, I felt completely present, enjoying the feeling of the fall.

When my canopy opened, I felt relief and a hyperawareness, relishing the magic of the next seven seconds. As I landed on the beach, I jumped over my equipment. The sound of cheers erupted and I saw the crowd holding their arms in the air. A surge of emotion hit me as I realized I was living my dream.

All photos courtesy of Brian Grubb, content by Red Bull.

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