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‘Riding’ the wave

AP
Published Aug 5, 2015, 4:08 am IST
Updated Mar 28, 2019, 7:43 am IST
Daredevil Robbie Maddison rides the waves in latest stunt
Mission Impossible: Maddison rides across the waves in Tahiti with the help of ski-like components around the wheels
 Mission Impossible: Maddison rides across the waves in Tahiti with the help of ski-like components around the wheels

Although daredevil Robbie Maddison has done plenty of crazy stunts, people thought he’d really lost it when he proposed riding his motorcycle on water. Like his preceding death-defying tricks, he pulled it off.

The result of his aqua exploits in Tahiti is the short video Pipe Dream, which premiered Sunday night in Surf City itself, Huntington Beach. “It’s the most challenging thing I’ve done to date. Just the fear,” the 34-year old Australian said about the film, which shows him riding his motorcycle across the waves in Tahiti, with the help of ski-like devices around the wheels.

 

This from a guy who had previously backflipped over the open Tower Bridge in London, leaped 300 feet across the Corinth Canal in Greece, jumped close to 400 feet over a boat inlet on San Diego Bay alongside snowmobiler Levi LaVallee, and jumped 351 feet over the Melbourne F1 Track.

His most famous feat was jumping onto the Arc de Triomphe replica on the Las Vegas strip on a live broadcast on New Year's Eve 2008, and then jumping back down. Then he came up with the idea of riding a motorcycle on water. “People see it two ways. They either think I’m high and I’ve totally lost my mind, or they think it’s a great idea,” Maddison said.

 

Filming took three weeks on two different surf breaks in late April and early May. “The film makes it look easy but behind the scenes shows the struggle we had,” said Maddison, who lives in Temecula. Maddison devised ski-like devices to wrap around the wheels to allow the bike to plane through the water. The front ski was shaped like a snowboard and the back ski like a surfboard.

Maddison said he tested his concept on San Diego’s Mission Bay last year, when he made three laps for a total of 12.07 km early one morning “before the birds were up”. Still, someone captured it on video and posted it on YouTube. “She was talking like she was looking at a UFO,” Maddison said. He continued to test on Lake Elsinore. Once he and his crew got to Tahiti, it was a challenge moving from cold freshwater to warm saltwater. The farthest he rode his bike on the open ocean was about a mile. Maddison said he went through six bikes. “Of those six, we sunk them and rebirthed them 10 times each,” he said.

 

On the last day, he was wiped out by a 25-foot wave. “I was on this mission impossible to try to outrun the wave,” he said. “It engulfed me and taught me a lesson or two.” Maddison, who grew up surfing in Australia, said his love for surfing drove him to do this stunt. “If I weren’t a professional motorcycle driver,” he said, “I would have pursued a surfing career.”

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