Alex Thomson navigates his kite with BOSS imprint while his boat is visible in the background.

Extreme kitesurfing: Alex Thomson takes on the Skywalk.

Catching up with the intrepid sailor and kitesurfer as he takes on the final stunt in his white-knuckle trilogy: an adrenaline-fuelled feat at breakneck speed and extraordinary height.
Photos: Alex Thomson Racing/Mark Lloyd
  • Extreme kitesurfing: Alex Thomson takes on the Skywalk.

  • Alex Thomson on his kite passing his sailing boat with Mercedes-Benz and BOSS imprinted on it.

    Harnessing the power of the elements.

    Mercedes-Benz Brand Ambassador Alex Thomson’s Skywalk is the third in a series of thrilling stunts, following his Mast Walk and Keel Walk of recent years. The Skywalk combines Alex’s two passions: sailing and kitesurfing, and involves an exhilarating attempt to soar over 280 feet into the air, using the speed of his race boat. Join the ride in this high-octane video.

    A vision of cool composure.

    Cruising in an E-Class Cabriolet along the Portuguese coast, Alex Thomson is a vision of cool composure. You’d never guess he was about to attempt such a thrilling stunt. Alvor is one of the world’s premier kitesurfing spots, and the right location for the Skywalk attempt. “I have had the concept of the Skywalk in the back of my mind for a long time now”, explains Alex.

    Alex Thomson driving a Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabriolet to the beach to attempt the Skywalk.

    “Sailing is my full time career, kitesurfing is my hobby. Being able to combine both of my loves to create this stunt was perfect”.

    Impressive: attached only to his sailing boat with BOSS lettering, Alex Thomson and his kite rise higher and higher up into the air.

    “We’re going to pull off something spectacular”.

    The stunt is technically tricky, requiring bravery and skill in equal measure. Alex must attach himself to a rope, which itself is attached to his race boat. Once securely attached to the rope, he is towed at great speed, with Operations Manager Ross Daniel at the helm. Then he’s up, up and away, flying above the boat, before detaching himself to make the descent… Amazingly, he still looks smart in his tailored, water-repellent suit.

    What could possibly go wrong?

    For an exploit like this, groundwork is everything. “We spent a long time preparing for the stunt”, says Alex. “There were a lot of elements that had to come together to make it work, especially with the added factor of me kitesurfing rather than being on the boat”. Alex spent four weeks in Portugal training for the attempt. One of the main concerns for the team was Alex’s descent.

    Alex Thomson and his board from the kite’s perspective.

    If his parachute collapsed, he’d hit the water with way too much force. But a diver and medic were on standby at the location, for both the planning and execution.

    After the Skywalk, Alex Thomson gets into the Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabriolet.

    High on adrenaline.

    The preparation paid off. On the day of the stunt, Alex makes the Skywalk look effortless. Controlling the kite at great speed, he manages to approach his boat and attach himself to the rope with ease. Giving his crew the nod, he leaves the ocean behind as the rope tightens and he takes off.

    The elated team gaze up in awe, as Alex flies up to 280 feet at an incredible 25 knots. Once the rope is at maximum length, Alex is contacted via radio to detach the rope, and controls the kite to come gliding back down to the water, landing with the precision of a seasoned pro. Go behind the scenes for an extra dose of the action.

    The next frontier.

    With the Skywalk, Alex Thomson has completed his intrepid trilogy. He’ll now be focusing his full attention on the Vendée Globe, which starts on 6th November. The unassisted, non-stop, round-the-world race takes 75 days to complete. Having finished third in the last event in 2013, Alex has set his sights squarely on the title, and if he succeeds he will be the first ever Brit to do so.

    The boat with BOSS and Mercedes-Benz imprinted on it sails smoothly on the sea.

    As for the stunts, we have a feeling he’s not quite finished with those, either.

    Image gallery.