BEST Extreme Sports List 2017
By Matt Cook
My list of extreme sports for 2017 is designed to show you some of the best activities and experiences from here in the UK, and around the World.
There’s a mix of adventures you may want to try yourself…and others that are best left to the experts!
UNDERWATER FLYING (SUBWING)
The Subwing is a 4ft carbon-fibre ‘wing’ that is dragged behind a speedboat offering the sensation of flying underwater.
Norwegian teenager Simon Sivertsen who, bored on a family holiday in the Greek Islands, fashioned together a ‘wing’ from some driftwood. He soon discovered that the this could be adapted in such a way as to give versatility, tilting the wing to provide easy control of direction and depth underwater.
By separating the wing into two winglets joined in the middle and capable of independent rotation, the user can perform a wide range of stunts and spins.
Requiring little or no training, Subwings are growing in popularity spawning a brand new water sport.
We’re looking forward to seeing how far they can go!
Harness the power of a large controllable kite to pull at speed across the water on a small kiteboard.
Kitesurfing requires a location with wave breaks, while kiteboarding can happen anywhere with water. Freestyle kitesurfers sail in winds of up to 35 knots and use waves to jump up to 10 meters in the air!
Speed riding is also popular with the current record standing at over 60 knots.
In 2009 professional kitesurfer Lewis Crathern jumped 50ft Brighton Pier, relying on winds of over 60 mph to jump to a height of 100ft!
The risk in kitesurfing comes from being attached to a kite in strong winds. Kitesurfers have been known to be dragged along the beach when caught by a storm.
Check out this video of a storm catching out a kitesurfer on the East Coast of the UK, showing how quickly the weather can change:
Using a kayak to navigate a river, can be as active or relaxed as you want it to be.
Advanced riders search out rapids and whitewater sections on some fantastic rivers and creeks to take watersports to a more extreme level!
Kayaking focusses on stunts and tricks, with some riders also tackling waterfall drops of up to 180ft!
Share the passion for this lifestyle with these short films on whitewater and waterfall kayaking:
Make of it what you will.
The Seabreacher X a two-seat semi-submersible watercraft, with a shape and movement based on that of a dolphin.
The craft can sustain high-speed dives below the water and then breach the surface, launching clear out of the water!
Reaching cruising speeds of 40mph and underwater speeds of 20mph, riders can dive to approximately 5ft for brief periods.
Playboating is a more artistic kind of kayaking where the rider stays in one spot in the river and work with and against the of the power of the water to perform dynamic maneuvers.
The tricks are hard and take countless hours of practice, but the strong learning curve in mastering the balance and bracing techniques is directly transferable into whitewater kayaking.
A perfect whitewater playground…
DRAINAGE DITCH KAYAKING
This may be more Jackass than extreme sport…but we still love it!
Drainage ditches are providing the perfect platform for some breakneck speeds in a kayak, with some fantastic videos springing up:
We can even envisage a future Road Rash/Red Bull Crashed Ice variant!
For those too young to remember Road Rash, here’s a quick look (can’t wait for a 2017 remake!)…
Hoverboards (also known as flyboards) allow people to fly up to 16ft (5 metres) above the surface of the water at speeds of up to 16mph (25 km/h), as well as performing tricks including somersaults and spins.
Invented by French jet ski champion Franky Zapata, the Hoverboard is a cross between flying, wakeboarding and surfing. It can be used in a lake or at sea, but the water must be over 13 ft (4 metres) deep.
We’re looking forward to see how the boards develop and the tricks that’ll be dreamed up and brought to reality!
Check out this great video from DevinSuperTramp showing off an aquatic version of the hoverboard used by Back To The Future’s Marty McFly.
Zapcats are insane, lightweight, twin hulled, inflatable catamarans with large outboard engines, capable of pulling in excess of 3G in a turn!
Originating in South Africa, the boats are built for speed, with twin inflatable hulls and a 50bhp engine; which can reach speeds of up to 50 mph in as little as 3 seconds.
A Zapcat has no seats, no screen to protect you from the spray, not even so much as a steering wheel; steering is done using a tiller. You do at least have straps to hook your feet into as you shift your body weight on the turn.
Riding the surf adds a new dimension to your experience with the added bonus of some decent air-time!
Check out some highlights of ZapCats in the surf:
BIG WAVE SURFING
Big wave surfers are towed onto waves of at least 20 feet (6.2m) high behind jet skis, using specially-designed towboards.
The length of the board correlates to the size of wave being ridden, with longer boards providing stability at the fastest speeds.
In a big wave wipeout, surfers can be pushed down 20 to 50 feet (6.2 m to 15.5 m) below the surface. Once they stop spinning, they have to quickly regain their senses and figure out which way is up.
The added danger of currents, water pressure, 2 consecutive large waves and the reef floor only add to the risk.
To get a feel for what it’s all about, check out a great documentary on legendary big wave surfer Laird Hamilton:
Cave diving offers the opportunity to explore beautiful, clearwater caves with unique geological formations which cannot be found elsewhere.
There is nothing fundamental to distinguish cave divers from recreational divers in terms of the equipment used, the difference is solely the environment.
Whilst free from wind, waves, and surge, and offering clearer visibility than open-water dives; cave diving is a notoriously dangerous sport. A range of skills and qualifications are required to safely explore these fascinating underwater environments.
Cave dives require more ardent planning and preparation, with divers also running a continuous guideline to help them navigate back to open water.
Sit on the end of a partially-inflated airbag that floats on the water, known as a ‘blob’, and have a mate jump on the other end from a platform! It’s great fun.
The sport is particularly popular in the Alps, with the alpine resort of Tignes in France offering a fantastic backdrop:
Jumpers perform tricks with the World record height, which involved a crane and two jumpers, was completed in Germany in 2012. The record height being recorded at 22 meters!
The activity started with the rubber tanks used by the US Army after soldiers discovered the ‘blob effect’.
Blob jumping was used in Jackass 3D movie, with paintball guns added, in the skit ‘Duck Hunting’:
Waterskiing…but without the skis!
Riders must travel at speeds of over 35 mph to stay above the water, with advanced riders able to perform jumps, tricks and even race in a slalom.
Check out some of the many tricks you can aspire to:
Made famous through the Red Bull Crashed Ice series, it’s a race where anything goes and the first to the bottom wins.
If you’re not familiar with ice cross downhill, think the world’s fastest sport on skates. Four people wearing pads and hockey skates career down a track made of ice, over tight turns, jumps and rollers.
Skaters exceed speeds of 85kph and do hairpin turns and gaps at 50+ miles per hour!
Crashes and falls are the norm, as is ramming into walls or taking a dive and slide across the ice while trying to get in the lead.
Check out this fantastic GoPro video showing some of the speeds the racers reach:
In 2017 the ice cross downhill will introduce an expanded women’s and junior division.
Ice climbing is all about scaling formations such as frozen waterfalls and cliffs as well as artificial ice walls.
Check out this video of Will Gadd’s ascent of a frozen Niagra Falls:
Or you can read a bit about why he does it here.
The ice can be soft, hard, brittle or tough, giving participants an added dimension to their climbing experience. Climbers use ice axes, crampons, and mountaineering boots, tailored to the conditions.
Ice climber John Freeman survived one of the craziest falls ever recorded when a pillar of ice he was climbing detached from the cliff face.
He was around 18 meters (60 feet) up a free-hanging pillar of ice, when it snapped and was spun onto his back and traveled about 200 feet down the slope.
Will Gadd, one of the best ice climbers in the world and Freeman’s climbing partner, said of the incident: “It is everybody’s worse nightmare. The sound of the collapse is what really invades my mind when I’m climbing.”
Freeman had not yet placed a screw, which is credited with saving his life.
XPOGO & POWERBOCKING
Xpogo is pogo sticks on steroids!
Try flips, tricks, and jumps of up to 10 feet in the air on a unique ‘extreme pogo’.
Invented in the States, this new-boy to the extreme sports scene is growing in popularity with new competitions opening in Europe and a growing following on social media.
Check out what it’s all about on this short film:
Powerbocking uses stilts which allow the wearer to run, jump and perform a wide range of tricks.
There is literally nothing about the name ‘battle archery’ that makes us not want to try it out! Essentially it’s like paintball, using a bow and arrow (foam tipped obviously – no one is that crazy).
It’s all about dodge, shoot and repeat. And yes, if it helps you can pretend to be Jennifer Lawrence in the Hunger Games movies.
Intrigued? check out:
Zorbing is one of the most well-known extreme sports, and a staple part of many stag and hen events around the World.
Zorbs are large, inflatable spheres which have straps to hold the rider in place while others leave you free to walk around or be tossed about by the rolling motion. Water can be added inside, for a ‘water ride’.
Mostly zorbing isn’t really extreme at all, but obviously, everything can be taken to another level.
Some like to try an Indiana Jones style canyon run to escape the rolling balls…
But be warned…zorbing can go wrong. If you’re Russian and decide to try it on top of a mountain:
Mountainboarding is a form of snowboarding on wheels on a variety of terrains.
It’s a well-established if little-known sport, described as a cross between skateboarding, snowboarding abd BMX.
It’s an easy sport to get started and you can go at your own speed, with body positioning an important component of a smooth ride.
Mountainboards are used for slalom as well as freestyling, using jumps, foam pits and trampolines.
Check out what it’s all about here:
ISLE OF MAN TT
The TT gets an honourable mention as there’s nothing else like it!
The International Isle of Man TT (Tourist Trophy) Race has been held in May or June each year since its inauguration in 1907, on the public roads of the Isle of Man at speeds approaching 200mph (and average speeds of over 130mph)!
A time trial over the 37 plus mile Snaefell Mountain Course, the racing takes place in a series of categories, culminating in the 500cc Senior TT.
The course requires unfathomable levels of skill, bravery, and concentration to finish, let alone race.
The island attracts riders from around the World to watch riders such as John McGuiness, Guy Martin, Connor Cummins and other legends fly around the course.
The mountain course even becomes one-way for the public to try their riding on Mad Sunday!
Check out some of the highlights…and make sure book your flight or ferry for 2018 early:
Some describe it as skateboarding on your back.
The sport was introduced to the UK from the X Games, after originating in California from skaters reaching high speeds on steep hills. They found the position gave them better control and a far bigger adrenaline rush than traditional skateboarding.
Riders use boards with longer decks, softer wheels, and wider trucks, enabling them to reach ridiculously high speeds of up to 80 mph whilst racing!
With the road surface only inches away, riders wear helmets and motorbike leathers whilst racing.
BASE jumping (Building, Antenna, Span, and Earth) is simply parachuting (skydiving) from a fixed structure or cliff.
The increased element of risk over normal comes from the fact that BASE jumpers have less time to react in emergency situations (usually around 10-15 seconds) and, falling at lower speeds, have less aerodynamic control and may tumble.
Many BASE jumps must be done covertly because the owners of tall buildings and antenna towers are generally reluctant to allow their object to be used as a platform.
Check out skier and BASE jumper Matthias Giraud as he tries to outrun a massive avalanche in the French Alps! The interesting part is that the escape route is off the edge of a cliff!
Accompanied by Stefan Laude, they have completed several first descents and ski BASE jumps across the World, including the first ski BASE jump off the Matterhorn in Switzerland.
Newer iterations of BASE jumping include wingsuit flying. Wingsuits allow the user to extend their flying time and offers more control of direction during flight.
Proximity flying, the art of free-fall parachuting in dangerous proximity to cliffs, buildings, or other elevated sites, has evolved into an extreme sport of its own.
The widespread use of helmets equipped with cameras, which are then posted onto YouTube, has encouraged some fliers to take ever more alarming risks, with many fatalities.
Italian base jumper Uli Emanuele has taken on what is thought to be one of the most technically challenging base jumps ever executed as he flies through a rock crevice in the wingsuit flying mecca, the Swiss Alps.
Check it out here:
Unfortunately, Uli is no longer with us.
As far as extreme activities go, doing a loop the loop thousands of feet in the air, traveling at around 100mph takes some beating!
On your standard experience day it’s an unforgetable and exciting experience as you barrel roll and tailspin towards the ground.
The sport is growing in popularity due to the success of the Red Bull Air Race which will be hosted at Ascot on the 13th and 14th August 2017.
The world’s best pilots race through low-aerial tracks made up of 25 metre high air-filled pylons.
Check out this trial flight with Red Bull racers C.J. Wilson and Kirby Chambliss:
Speedriding or speedflying is a mix of skiing and paragliding using a small, fast fabric wing in close proximity to a steep slope.
Pilots ground launch in the same way as traditional paragliding, although the sports differ in that the aim is to create a fast and thrilling ride close to the slope.
It has been described as ‘staggeringly difficult and dangerous as hell’, but it looks like a fantastic way to explore the mountains and is proving especially popular in the Swiss and French Alps.
Check out some fantastic speedriding through canyons in the Alps:
FLY A JETFIGHTER
In the US and in locations throughout Europe it’s actually possible to get behind the controls of a jet fighter!
Under the guidance of an instructor, you’ll take the controls to perform some gentle loops and rolls, before progressing to more difficult maneuvers (aileron roll, stall turn, barrel roll, Cuban 8, slow roll and vertical roll) depending upon your ability.
Aircraft often include the Hawker Hunter, MiG-15, MiG-29 Supersonic and there’s even an option for an edge of space flight, which takes place in the MiG-29 Fulcrum.