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PREPARE FOR TAKE-OFF The man who’s built a jet suit everyone can fly


S TA N C E . E U . C O M



“Watching Richard [Browning] hover above me in a blood-red sky as the setting sun glinted off his visor, it was like a vision of a dystopian future,” says photographer Greg Funnell, who shot our cover feature. Page 30

Then there’s fellow record-breaker Ross Edgley (page 46), the endurance swimmer who recently emerged from Margate’s waters as the first person to swim a circuit of mainland Great Britain – having endured jellyfish stings and a rotting tongue in the process. And Brazilian big-wave surfer Maya Gabeira (page 64) conquered her goal of catching the biggest-ever wave surfed by a woman, but then began a battle of a different kind: to get her achievement officially recognised.



The British writer braved the freezing weather to meet up with endurance swimmer Ross Edgley on his boat during his recordbreaking journey. “I was told beforehand I’d feel like his best friend by the time I left,” she says. “In fact, it took about five minutes of laughing at a stream of jokes, and philosophising about what drives humans to do insane and boundary-pushing things.” Page 46


For his feature in this issue, the Colorado-based adventure-travel writer flew to the Buddhist kingdom of Bhutan to take part in the Tour of the Dragon, one of the world’s toughest bike races. “For my stories, I like to immerse myself as much as possible,” he says. “But the suffering I endured for this piece was like no other. In the end, though, it left me with one of the greatest highs ever.” Page 54

Enjoy the issue. 04  



This issue, we meet the incredible characters who ditched the rule book to get their names into the record book. Our cover star and ‘real-life Iron Man’, British inventor Richard Browning (page 30), ignored the many naysayers who believed his jet-powered flight-suit idea wouldn’t fly, and instead strapped it on and took to the sky. His jet suit has disproved a century of aviation science, sells for almost £350,000, and has earned him a Guinness World Record for speed.

CONTENTS February 2019





08  Meet the wakeboarder

82 Tuk-tuk go: high times

2 6 Cardi B

who surfs glaciers 12  Wrap star: the Spyder jacket then and now 14 Aquaman actor Jason Momoa is paying it back to the planet 16  Cordon bleurgh: the Disgusting Food Museum 18  Red Bull Knock Out: motocross mayhem on the beach 20 BMX trickster Kriss Kyle drops into Dubai 22  Score draw: movie composer Max Richter’s soundtrack picks 24 Let there be Nike: a bible for sneaker freaks THE RED BULLETIN 

in the Himalayas in the world’s craziest race – the Rickshaw Run

88 Scapegoat: let rip while

you get ripped

90  Don’t set foot outside

your front door without these headphones on or in your ears

92 One for the layers: stay

snug on the slopes with these on-piste essentials

94  This month’s highlights

on Red Bull TV

96  Dates for your calendar 98 Red Bull (Hot) Air Race:

aviation legend Kirby Chambliss’ balloon act

Life lessons from the fearless Bronx-born rap superstar

30 Richard Browning

Britain’s Iron Man: the jet-pack inventor who’s aiming high

4 2 Dynamo

Overcoming career-threatening illness with magic

4 6 Ross Edgley

The full, exhausting story of his epic round-Britain swim

54 Tour of the Dragon

By royal appointment: Bhutan’s rock-hard bike challenge

64 Maya Gabeira

Returning to the monster waves that almost took her life

70 Gear change

The kit and the motivation to help you reach your goals   07



In his insulated wetsuit, Martyanov didn’t fear a plunge into sub-zero water. But plummeting onto a solid block of ice was another matter…






Nikita Martyanov


The Russian wakeboarder creates the world’s coolest natural wake parks. In the icy wastes of Greenland, he took his project to the extreme 


ikita Martyanov is a damn good wakeboarder. At the age of 28, he’s a former European champion, a 13time national champion in his homeland of Russia, and a World Championship bronze medallist. But that wasn’t always the plan. As a kid in St Petersburg, his dream was to be a pro snowboarder, but injury changed the path of his career. Or perhaps it shaped

his destiny. In September, he combined both disciplines, taking his wakeboard to Greenland to land freeride tricks in its icy wastes. For years now, Martyanov has been working on an ongoing project reimagining natural environments as wake parks. In 2013, he travelled to Kazakhstan, where an earthquake had created a lake out of a forest. There, he used the semisubmerged trees and fallen logs as features for his   09

‘eco park’. But this time there was only one physical feature to hand: icebergs. Sermeq Kujalleq is known as the world’s fastest glacier with good reason: it moves at a speed of up to 40m every 24 hours. Draining 6.5 per cent of the Greenland Ice Sheet, the second largest ice body in the world after Antarctica, the glacier produces 46km3 of ice each year – enough to satisfy the annual water consumption of the US – and produces 10 per cent of Greenland’s total icebergs, all of which flow out into Disko Bay. It’s here that Martyanov envisioned his frozen wake park. For the project Martyanov used his regular, unmodified Liquid Force Drop park board and enlisted a Zodiac – an inflatable boat with a 50hp outboard motor – to pull him. “It wasn’t perfect for creating pull,” he says. “We welded a metal tower to it, but right up until we launched it we couldn’t tell if this DIY idea was going to work. We didn’t know the consistency of the icebergs, how mobile they are, or whether it would be possible to ride on them at all.” It didn’t long to find out.  “Imagine a park where the features are always in motion,” Martyanov says. “At first glance, everything looks 10  


wonderful, but while I was doing a circle, an ice needle would float up. There are masses of these ice pieces, and they give the water the consistency of a smoothie. Often, the icebergs would turn over, revealing dangerously smooth ice. It’s almost impossible to tilt on them, so I chose walls with a thick crust of ice over the snow.” Because of the perpetually moving landscape, Martyanov couldn’t meticulously plan

On the slide: the Russian negotiates a wall of Greenland ice



Mister ice: Martyanov had to pull off his wakeboarding tricks without the benefit of practice runs

tricks as he would in a regular park. “There wasn’t much chance to do practice approaches,” he says. “You weighed everything up very quickly and had to do the stunt on the first or second attempt.” But there were also unique benefits to this terrain: “We’d find an iceberg that was perfect for a trick, only to realise the approach was blocked by other ones. Our captain, who’d been sailing that launch his whole life, would simply thrust into the iceberg at full throttle, shifting a football-field-sized block to the required spot.” Amid all the uncertainty, there was one inevitability: a plunge into the sub-zero waters. Martyanov wore the warmest full-surfing wetsuit he could find, but even that couldn’t insulate him from the pain of crashing into moving ice. “A couple of times I saw a clear landing spot, but as I took off it turned out I was flying straight towards a block of ice. Falling from a height of three metres at full speed is no fun.” If wakeboarding in this environment was difficult, photographing it proved doubly so. Martyanov’s team shot twice a day to capture a certain light: early in the morning, and at night when the sun dipped below the horizon. He also recruited freedivers capable of withstanding the underwater temperatures to shoot from beneath the surface, but the water proved too murky. “Our dream of split-shots, or catching a whale, didn’t work out,” says the Russian. “And the cold massively cut down the time I was able to ride.” In the end, though, Martyanov got the results he was after – and more: “We wanted to reconceive wakepark riding and give the discipline a new level of development. The project was done in full freestyle, in an incredibly tight time-frame, and what we achieved went beyond our expectations.” Instagram: @nikitamartyanov





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Two ski jackets, 35 years apart. But these pieces of functional garment technology have more in common than you might think When the original Spyder jacket was created in 1983, the Colorado-based company behind it was just five years old. But then, as the 1957 Canadian downhill skiing champion and former national team coach, founder 12  

David L Jacobs knew his stuff. At the time, Jacobs was running the business from his kitchen – but for a man used to snatching victory by mere hundredths of a second, four decades is an eternity to perfect your craft.

Today, Spyder is one of the world’s leading ski apparel brands, highly regarded both by the pros – it’s the official supplier to the US, Canadian and Jamaican skiing teams – and by recreational skiers. Its current headline jacket, the Pinnacle, is worthy of the name. Each one is assembled from 335 pieces and goes through 24 tests, from onsnow wear to waterproofing. On the evolutionary scale, the original 1983 jacket may be a dinosaur, but its worldbeating DNA lives on in the fabric of the Pinnacle. THE RED BULLETIN


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Jason Momoa

but I’m taking care of myself. Having kids teaches you to be aware of the things you do, because they’re watching you. So I need to exercise or do things, because I have a lot of energy; if I don’t channel it in some way, I kind of wear down.

The American actor has a lot of respect for the sea – it has given him his biggest role and, on one occasion, almost killed him…

Is there any one exercise you could never do without? I couldn’t do without rock climbing, the act of climbing. I like the way I move and feel, and the way my body hangs off my arms and my fingers.

t’s no surprise that Jason Momoa was chosen for the lead in Aquaman, the latest superhero offering from the DC Universe. Muscular and towering at 1.93m tall, with Prince Charming hair and a kind demeanour, the 39-yearold is as close as you can get to a real-life superhero. Following his big break in 2011, playing the infamous Khal Drogo in Game of Thrones, Momoa has become a familiar face on screen – which makes it hard to believe that Aquaman is his first leading role in a major film. Here, the actor reveals what he learnt from playing such a powerful character, and how – even if he’s not really charging around with a trident and battling the Ocean Master – he wants to save the seas. the red bulletin: In Aquaman, you play the heir to the throne of the underwater kingdom of Atlantis. What do you think makes a good king? jason momoa: Compassion, strength, vulnerability and love. It takes all of that to be a king. You have to think of others, take care of them and be selfless.


So, are you a king? Not really, but I am working on it. It’s about believing in yourself and knowing the beauty you have inside. My character in Aquaman goes on a hero’s journey, and he becomes a king in the end. But in the beginning he doesn’t know this, which made it easier for me to relate to him. Now I’m working on becoming a king in my own home, though my wife [actress Lisa Bonet] would have something to say about that. Have you had any real-life adventures in the ocean? Once, I went on a big surfing trip and nearly drowned – my friends couldn’t get to me because the waves were too big. It was terrifying. I prayed to my ancestors, to my grandmother and grandfather. It was only when I hit a reef in the middle of the ocean that I managed to dig my feet in so my friends could see where I was and get to me. The ocean is a beautiful and amazing teacher. It’s very powerful and you have to respect it. It gives grace and beauty, but it has also beaten the shit out of me.

You studied marine biology in college. What prompted that decision? I’m just a fan of nature, of the world, of the Earth. I wanted to spend my life trying to save the oceans, working with animals, and trying to find cures for diseases. It’s tough, because there are so many things to do in this lifetime: my artistic career, being a father, giving back what I owe this Earth as a human being. I want to bring awareness and solutions – that’s why I am working with a charity organisation called WATERisLIFE. It’s about getting fresh water to people in need, cleaning the oceans, and stopping the waste and plastics that we use in our everyday lives. Are you doing all these things yourself? When I speak about subjects like this, I don’t want to be a hypocrite. I have to practise what I preach and find the right companies to back it. I would love to be a spokesman for these things, so I’m making sure I have all my ducks in a row. Aquaman is in cinemas now;

You once said, “I am trapped in a big, dumb body.” Is that really the case? Yes. I am indeed a big, dumb animal trapped in this body, THE RED BULLETIN










Could you eat a spicy rabbit’s head? Drink baby-mouse-infused wine? This museum sets out to challenge what we view as edible

Clockwise from top: fruit bats are eaten in several countries around the world, from Ghana to Guam; despite the name, a century egg takes just months to create – a duck, chicken or quail egg is preserved in a mixture of salt, clay, ash and quicklime until the yolk turns green and the white becomes a brown jelly; baby-mouse wine is taken as a health tonic in southern China; pungent, slimy natto (fermented soybeans) from Japan; spicy rabbit’s heads are considered a delicacy in Chengdu in China’s Sichuan province




Disgusting Food Museum

ermented herring, well-aged shark, putrid cheese: foul or just unfamiliar? This is the question the Disgusting Food Museum is posing by way of a collection of gastronomic nasties. With the likes of bull’s penis, baby-mouse wine and mare’s milk available to view, smell and even taste, this is not a day out for the weak of heart (or stomach). Curated by Samuel West – an organisational psychologist who previously created the Museum of Failure – this exhibition in Malmö, Sweden, treats us to a plethora of obscure and stomachchurning foodstuffs. “What is delicious to one person can be revolting to another,” West explains. “The Disgusting Food Museum invites visitors to explore the world of food, and challenge their notions of what is and isn’t edible.” The point of the museum, however, is not simply to make the audience lose its lunch, but to draw attention to the ecological impact of our eating habits and the meat industry. Exhibiting seemingly inedible items such as a months-old egg that has turned a greenybrown and smells of urine alongside more recognisable and commonplace products like factory-farmed and hormone-injected pork, the museum explores complex questions around trade ethics, cultural sensitivities and our own culinary predispositions. Why are we so comfortable consuming the meat of some animals, for instance, while simultaneously disgusted by the idea of eating most insects? Could recalibrating our barometer of disgust help us embrace the environmentally sustainable foods of the future? The creators of this museum certainly seem to think so. But if the exhibition goes further than your own palate can handle, do not fear: the entrance tickets have been designed to double up as vomit bags. Enjoy.



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Red Bull Knock Out


In summer, Scheveningen beach in the Netherlands is a place of beauty – a pristine stretch of sand that draws sunbathers, surfers and volleyballers. But for one day every November it becomes a maelstrom of motocross madness as more than 1,000 enduro riders rev up to the shoreline to do battle against each other and the high winds and shifting sands of winter, in what’s billed as the world’s toughest motocross beach race. At the 2018 Red Bull Knock Out, the UK’s Nathan Watson grabbed victory to be crowned king of the sandcastle.





Red Bull Knock Out competitors attempt to navigate the punishing hills and logs of the Scheveningen track’s extreme X-Loop section



Kriss Kyle




This is the moment that 26-year-old BMX rider Kriss Kyle rode out of the side of a helicopter almost 220m above the city of Dubai and dropped 7m to a helipad on the roof of the Burj Al Arab hotel. He then rode onto a second jump over a staircase. “Dropping out of the helicopter actually started off as a bit of a joke,” Kyle says. “I remember being up on the helipad, chatting about what we could do up there. I was like, ‘Imagine jumping out of a helicopter.’ Next thing I knew, it was signed off.” It was a perilous stunt, even for a skilled athlete like Kyle. “The wind was so strong it almost pulled the bike right out of my hands,” he reveals. “I took a deep breath before leaping out and held on for my life. When I landed, I was going way faster than I’d thought, and I overshot the second ramp. But I held on and rode it out. It’s something I’ll never forget.”




“IT FELT LIKE I WAS JUMPING INTO A TORNADO” The helicopter downblast was one of the challenges facing Kriss Kyle as he leapt for the helipad. But, he says, “It was worth all the fear and stress”




Max Richter


Some movies and TV shows are worth watching for their score alone, says the renowned film composer. Here, he selects four synthesised masterpieces…

POPOL VUH AGUIRRE, THE WRATH OF GOD (1972) “The film director Werner Herzog is a visionary beyond categorisation. He proved this once again by choosing [German prog-rock band] Popul Vuh to provide the scores for many of his movies. Aguirre… is set in the Amazonian jungle, but the music is based on droney and partly synthesised choral sounds. By letting these elements [his own naturalistic images and Popol Vuh’s synthetic score] collide, Herzog creates a truly exciting and unique connection.”

VANGELIS BLADE RUNNER (1982) “I first saw this at the cinema as a teenager, and I had never seen or heard a movie like it. At the time, film scores were almost completely orchestral. Vangelis uses synths as though they were an orchestra. With electronic music, it’s not only about the notes: you’re also inventing the sound itself. That’s what makes this score – which feels very ambient – so visionary: it perfectly matches the film’s palette of neons and dark colours.”




“This is pretty much the first electronic score ever, created by Louis and Bebe Barron using what was essentially lab equipment repurposed to make sound. It was so out there that the Academy [of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences] wouldn’t recognise it as music. The sound effect-y noises may seem a bit dated today, but it’s an amazing score. It’s so expressive and tactile, full of extraordinary colours.”

“I haven’t checked out this new TV show [a sci-fi drama starring Sean Penn], but Colin Stetson’s score alone makes it worthwhile. The saxophonist’s music is usually very physical, like being run over by a truck – in a good way. Here, he explores synth drones and piano, encompassing the more tender aspects of human life – rather than solely focusing on his brutalist vision – which is intriguing.” THE RED BULLETIN


ax Richter has been an influential figure in both contemporary classical and alternative popular music since the early 2000s. His epic tracks have been used by film directors including Ridley Scott and Martin Scorsese, and his scores for movies such as Waltz With Bashir and TV shows like Black Mirror have won critical acclaim. To celebrate the vinyl release of his soundtrack for White Boy Rick, starring Matthew McConaughey, the German-born British composer suggests four electronic music scores that will blow your mind.



W I T H S Y M P A T E X®

4 5 K W AT E R P R O O F





The ultimate sneaker book


From Chuck Taylor’s pioneering basketball shoes of the 1920s to the latest £8,000 Yeezys: the definitive guide to the history of sneakers


ike Air Force 1, Adidas Yeezy 350, Reebok InstaPump Fury: footwear to some, a whole lifestyle to many others. So beloved is the sneaker that over the last century it has transformed from a product to an industry to a borderline religion. The high priest of this church is Australian Simon ‘Woody’ Wood, editor of Sneaker Freaker magazine, and a man so obsessed with kicks that he has spent the last five years creating its own holy book. Sneaker Freaker: The Ultimate Sneaker Book,


published by Taschen, is a comprehensive guide to the outrageous world of trainer freaks. The 650-page tome covers almost 100 years of industry insight and insider knowledge, with thousands of product photos; many of the shoes pictured are from Wood’s personal collection. “It’s my entire professional career,” he says. “I’m obsessed with finding information and trying to make sense of it all: what it is that’s so amazing about this industry; why it’s so creative and compelling, and why people go crazy for it.” The book isn’t simply a catalogue of the freshest kicks:

starting off with Chuck Taylor’s iconic basketball boot in the 1920s, it tells the history of the sneaker, from the designers to the brands to the subcultures that adopt them. It also revisits legendary collaborations such as Wu-Tang Clan’s Nike Dunk High and fashion designer Jeremy Scott’s out-there Adidas collection, and examines the Yeezy effect and the rise in high-fashion price tags. One read and the biggest sneaker novice will feel like an expert. So, why does Wood think people go gaga for these shoes? “There’s just something about sneakers,” he says. “It doesn’t matter if you grew up in Tokyo, or New York, or London or wherever – at some point you become aware your sneakers are a part of you and how you want others to see you.” With thousands of pairs in his collection, what’s his own sneaker personality? “I’ll always go back to Air Force 1. I just like chunky shoes.” THE RED BULLETIN


Clockwise from far left: a well-worn pair of classic 1977 Vans; this Foot Locker ad for the original Nike Air Max 1 shows one of the earliest production models from 1986, now practically impossible to find; the eBay Dunk is even more elusive – this Nike SB was auctioned off for charity in 2003 and won for $26,000 (close to £28,000 in today’s money) by an anonymous buyer who received a pair in their size, while the original sample was destroyed with a chainsaw to ensure exclusivity


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CARDI B Making History

Bronx-born rapper Cardi B is taking over the world with her sharp lyrics, fearless attitude, and innate ability to create memeworthy moments. But global superstardom is a far cry from her Plan A: to become a teacher. Here, the 26-year-old reveals how she learnt her most important lesson Belcalis Almánzar, aka hip-hop superstar of the moment Cardi B, once had ambitions to become a history teacher. Her dream was shattered when she was forced to drop out of college to make ends meet, and started work as a stripper. But instead of feeling defeated, she learnt a lesson that has seen her rise meteorically to global fame. “The secret is to let yourself go with it,” says the 26-year-old rapper and songwriter. “If something doesn’t work, move on and try something else.” Turns out that the New Yorker, born to Caribbean parents, has plenty of other talents. After gaining attention with her eminently quotable Instagram posts, and a memorable stint on VH1 reality TV show Love & Hip Hop: New York, Cardi B’s biting style of rap – characteristically delivered in a thick, Bronx-trained drawl – has kept the hits coming. She has already been twice nominated for a Grammy, had two number ones in the US (plus a guest spot on Maroon 5’s chart-topper Girls Like You), was named in Time magazine’s 2017 list of the world’s 100 most influential people, and her album Invasion Of Privacy has gone double platinum (signifying sales of two-million-plus copies). Her teaching dream may not have come true, but Cardi B is proof that you create your own opportunities… Words BENJAMÍN ACOSTA Photography KAT MORGAN 26  


“I try to be myself… I don’t want to hide what I think and feel”

“Music motivated me and gave free rein to my creative side”

“If something doesn’t work, move on and try something else.”

Cardi B

the red bulletin: Switching career direction from teacher to rap star is unusual. How did you pick yourself up after dropping out of college? cardi b: I realised that shattered dreams don’t have to mean catastrophe in and of themselves; if anything, it’s the opposite. There are times when something stops you changing tack and realigning your life, but, to be honest, you don’t really have anything to lose by giving things a shot at least. When you realise that, far from it being an obstacle, [the end of one thing can] actually be an opportunity to try something else, you begin to take risks. You try things and see what happens, in the full knowledge that you have absolutely nothing to lose. When it turned out I wasn’t going to get to [finish] college as I’d wanted, I got tied up with music instead. Music had lain dormant in me until then. Why were you drawn to music? It helped motivate me and gave free rein to my creative side. I enjoyed the bursts of productivity, which started to bear fruit and convinced me I was on the right track. It’s a very emotional process and it encourages you to keep building on what you feel is naturally the right thing for you.

Do you ever think about where you would be if you hadn’t managed to embrace a change of direction? I’d have frozen up, got scared and made the same mistakes over and over again. Things stop feeling natural, and that’s a real risk. Maybe when I’m older I’ll have the time to go to college. Why not? It’s never too late to make your dreams come true. Sometimes it’s just a matter of juggling things to create the right atmosphere and the perfect conditions.

As someone who has come from humble beginnings, how do you make up for a lack of resources? I think the advantage of not having everything at your fingertips is that it makes you do your preparation. You have to make the effort and have the patience required to attain your goal. It’s not about being put under huge pressure; it’s about being able to channel and focus what you already have at your disposal, instead of thinking about what you don’t have. In my case, that meant that once I was reconciled with not going to college, I focused on the resources available to me: writing lyrics, rapping, building up a music base. And, of course, there was the internet, too. I kept going, kept trying, and I didn’t feel stupid.

Cardi B’s top tweets of wisdom ON SURVIVAL “I have a lot of people praying on my downfall. THEY GOING TO FEEL ME FIRST!!!....KNOCK ME DOWN 9 times but I get up 10!!!” ON POLITICS “Trump is so disgusting! I hate him So much. I’m starting to hate him with a fucking passion” ON KEEPING IT REAL “I’m not a celebrity baby. I’m just a regular bitch from The Bronx” ON PREGNANCY “LIVE YOUR BEST LIFE AND DRINK CRANBERRY JUICE!!!” ON MOTIVATION “I don’t look up to nobody. I look at my past to inspire me and remind me where I don’t want to be at :)”

Was that hard when you encountered negative feedback as well as positive? I always just try to be myself and no one else, even though misunderstandings could come about at any time from my using words that people say are politically incorrect. I don’t care about that, for the simple reason that I don’t want to hide what I think and feel. From my point of view, social media serves that purpose, too: it reinforces and shares your true self with the world. As in all walks of life, there will be those who connect with you, and those who disagree. That’s just as it should be. Now you’ve experienced high-level success, how do you stay hungry? I’m always excited by the challenge of processing ideas and synthesising those into lyrics that end up being a song. The raw material is intangible and personal, so I have to change it into something that gets other people excited, which becomes a hell of a job. That’s what pushes me to keep trying new types of hip hop. Now, I see everything around me as a school that gives me constant feedback.

ON LIFE LESSONS How did you do that in the music industry? “It’s amazing how Donald Glover and Childish Starting from scratch couldn’t be more of a Gambino look soo much learning curve, because you learn what you can alike. I think they secretly and can’t do right from the off. That way, you the same person!!” make mistakes when you have to, then you move forward a bit more intelligently. This career is a So, instead of ending up as a teacher, you’ve gone on to mixture of art, entertainment and business, so if you only look become the star pupil… after one area without taking an overview, chances are things I’ve always wanted to make the most of what I have to work won’t work out that well. So, as you make your way, step by with. After that, your potential develops naturally, organically, step, and see all the signs, it definitely strengthens the way you on a solid basis. Sharing my view of the world is something conduct yourself professionally. If there were no boundaries, that gives me total satisfaction. you could get to a point where you’d make stupid mistakes on a whim, or get scared and come up with something disastrous. THE RED BULLETIN 



For a hundred years, humankind tried and failed to build a practical, commercial jet pack. This man succeeded in less than 24 months... Words TOM GUISE Photography GREG FUNNELL



pril 2017. Venture capitalist Alan Draper is standing in the car park of his San Mateo, California HQ. Beside him is his father Tim, a shrewd investor who bet early on Tesla, Skype and Twitch, and is credited with inventing viral marketing in the early days of Hotmail. In 2014, he made headlines as the highest bidder in the US Marshals’ auction of Bitcoin seized from the infamous online marketplace Silk Road. The Drapers love a good punt. They also enjoy a great superhero story: the office walls are plastered with three-storey-high murals of DC Comics characters; the company’s motto: “Not all superheroes wear capes”. Today, they’ve invited 150 of Silicon Valley’s top VCs to view a potentially lucrative new investment. In front of them, a lone British inventor is strapping on a funny-looking backpack connected to a series of canisters that he attaches to his forearms and calves. For a boffin, he’s surprisingly well-built, 32  

suggesting an athletic or military background. This is Richard Browning; his contraption is a jet suit. “I had no idea if it was going to work,” he recalls. “It had a leaking fuel tank, electronics malfunctions, only four of my six engines were working – two I’d bought at the last minute when I arrived in America.” Browning powers up the suit. It whines, then sputters and shuts down. The VCs look on, unimpressed. “‘Don’t worry, it’s just warming up,’ I tell them. I was dying inside.” Standing with his legs apart and arms pointing downwards, Browning gives it a second go. The whine begins again, slowly increasing in pitch to a defeating roar. The audience covers its ears as bemusement turns first to nervous curiosity, then to fascination as fire starts spurting from the jets on Browning’s arms and legs, transforming into cones of blue and then invisible flames that surround his body in a rippling heat haze. What follows is pure astonishment, the sort only felt in the presence of THE RED BULLETIN

“I see what’s been done and I wonder, ‘Can I do better? Can I reinvent it?’” Richard Browning, founder and chief test pilot at Gravity Industries, at his jet-suit workshop

November 2018: a secret location in Wiltshire, England. Two weeks earlier, this was a barn full of hay. Today, it’s the test facility for the world’s most advanced jet suit (the bales of hay are stacked outside)

real magic, as Browning levitates a metre off the ground and glides across the car park, throwing dust into the wide eyes and slack jaws of his onlookers, until moments later he lands where he started. “I was terrified of falling and wrecking the equipment,” admits Browning, “because I had to demo it at a TED talk later, alongside Elon Musk and the Pope.” Tim Draper walks over to Browning and hands him a $100 note. “This is for cleaning my car park,” the investor shouts over the sound of the engines. He then communes with his fellow VCs. “They come back to me literally 30 seconds later and say, ‘This is the most insane thing we’ve ever seen. You’ve just manifested the superhero spirit we want from a start-up. We have to be involved. How about half a million dollars for 10 per cent?’” recalls Browning. “I said, ‘How about $650K?’ [around £510,000] and we shook right there in the car park. My engines were still running their cooling cycle, and we signed a deal on the back of the $100 bill. I’d only formed the company six weeks earlier.” A year before that, he hadn’t even conceived of the jet suit.

One of Browning’s jet-suit gauntlets, featuring two jets and a throttle trigger. “We 3D-print all the metal arm assemblies and the backpack” THE RED BULLETIN 

“It taps into this very human dream of being liberated from gravity”


or as long as he can remember, Browning has had a passion for flying. “My father was an aeronautical engineer and inventor. His father was a pilot and wartime instructor. My other grandfather was chairman of [British aerospace manufacturer] Westland Helicopters. Flight, engineering, horsepower – it’s in my blood.” At the age of 18, Browning followed in the family tradition, signing up for an engineering degree. “But I lost interest. It was full of calculus and maths – we never went near a lathe or anything practical – so I shifted to something more hands-on: exploration geology.” That led to a job at oil giant BP. “I had a breakthrough developing a cargo-tracking system. Everyone thought the idea was a joke, but I had the bravado to get a prototype system built. It changed the global commodity industry and made billions.” Where others might have retired on their success, Browning remained restless. “I joined the Royal Marines Reserves, and in two years I got my Green Beret.” He also gained a new sense of purpose. “The Marines beats you physically and mentally into going further than you ever imagined,” says the 40-year-old today. To challenge himself even more, Browning took up ultra-marathons and callisthenics, and another bravado-fuelled idea formed in his mind. “I got quite light and strong, able to hold my body weight in crazy positions: planches, muscle-ups, flags. I thought, ‘How fun would it be to distil that capability down to flight?’ There’s an assumption that humans are too weak and heavy to fly – we can’t just flap our arms. But what if you add horsepower to make up for that? Augmented, the mind and body can achieve pretty cool stuff. It taps into this very human dream of being liberated from gravity.” From the Greek myth of Icarus soaring too close to the sun, to Buck Rogers’ debut in the August 1928 edition of science-fiction magazine Amazing Stories, and Marvel’s Iron Man, humans have long fantasised about self-propelled flight. In 1919, the first jet pack was conceived – an oxygen-and-methane-powered rocket system designed by Russian inventor Aleksandr Andreyev. It was patented, but never built. In the 100 years since, others have reached for the skies – with mixed results. The Nazis developed the Himmelstürmer flight pack based on the pulse-jet propulsion of their V-1 flying bomb. After WWII, German scientist Wernher von Braun defected to the US and developed a ‘jet vest’ for the army. In 1961,   35

Browning on the flight capabilities of his aerobatic arch-rivals DAVID MAYMAN AUSTRALIA Traditional flight pack powered by jet engines. “Lovely guy, but playing catch up. It looks like the thing you saw in the 1984 Olympics – an enormous jet pack with joysticks – and in my view that can go wrong. But I don’t want to get bitchy. It’s only the four of us – there’s enough room.”

FRANKY ZAPATA FRANCE Creator of the Flyboard Air, a jet-fuelled spin-off of his water-powered hoverboard. In April 2016, set his own Guinness World Record for furthest hoverboard flight at 2.25km, getting himself banned from French airspace in the process. “Zapata is pioneering, completely crazy. He does get very high, very fast, but if he has a failure, his legs will come off. But he’s got some balls to do it.”


YVES ROSSY SWITZERLAND Aka ‘Jetman’. Launches himself from high altitudes wearing a rigid jet-powered wing system capable of 300kph, which the US aviation authorities have classified as an aircraft. “I love him dearly, but he has to fall out of a helicopter, fire up his engines, fly until he runs out of fuel, then pull a parachute.”

Bell Aerospace performed the first free flight of their ‘rocket belt’, sending engineer Harold Graham a distance of 35m at an altitude of 1.2m for a mere 13 seconds. This is the jet pack most famously remembered for its appearance at the opening ceremony of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, and in the 1965 Bond movie Thunderball. The jet pack became synonymous with a vision of the future – one that seemingly would never fully be realised. The problems with these and most other jet packs are much the same: the fuel-to-weight ratio meant they could only fly for seconds at a time, and their unwieldiness made them incredibly tricky to stabilise. Where others saw obstacles, Browning saw opportunity. “I look at what somebody has done and I wonder, 'Can I do better? Can I reinvent it?'” he says. “My plan was to fly by adding as little bulk as possible –  to defy gravity with my body. If I can hold my weight in a planche by pushing against the ground, what if I was to push on a pair of wings generating the same resistance? I began building large foldable wings, but the military were developing something similar for drones. Knowing I couldn’t compete, I returned to the concept of adding horsepower.” Historically, what we know as jet packs are actually rocket packs: the fuel (often hydrogen) chemically reacts with an oxidising agent, forcing out a blast of hot gas just like a rocket. “But there had been breakthroughs in powerful micro gas turbines,” says Browning. “They were pretty much a science project that you put on your model plane and took 20 minutes to warm up and stabilise, but with a computer-controlled start-up you could go from cold to full power in 90 seconds.” Browning uses the term ‘model plane’ quite broadly. Powered by A-1 jet fuel, the turbines are miniaturised aeroplane jet engines, each pushing 22kg of thrust at a temperature of 700°C from the exhaust. “Weighing 1.9kg, that’s an insane thrust-toweight ratio,” he says. “I did the maths: thanks to the ultra-running, I was quite light, so I should be able to take off. On paper, there was enough power, but I didn’t know if they should be on my arms, shoulders or legs. You constantly wallow in doubt. Any entrepreneur who tells you they always knew something was going to work is talking bullshit. If it was certain, somebody would have done it already.”


n March 2016, Browning began his tests at a farmyard near his home in Salisbury. “It didn’t have any roads or even a footpath going past it,” he says. “We kept it all secret.” He started with one jet attached to his arm. “I stood in a lane, hosing it up and down, going, ‘Whoa, this is powerful.’ We added more engines, working out where the hell to put them, because there was no rulebook for this.” Next, he attached a jet to each arm. “There’s only one sensible way to go from there: you get four.” He moved two of them to his legs. At one point, he THE RED BULLETIN



“Flight, engineering, horsepower – it’s in my blood” Inventor, ex-Marine and entrepreneur Richard Browning on the destiny that led him to build his jet suit




Gravity Jet Suit Series 3

A detailed look at the jet suit that augments the human body for flight



3 8

7 4

1. Helmet and visor with head-up display 2. Leather flying jacket 3. Micro gas turbines – 22kg of thrust each, two per arm 4. Aluminium arm assembly housing throttle trigger 5. Smartphone – exports fuel and engine data to HUD 6. Lightweight biker boot 7. Engine control unit and starter batteries 8. Control board delivering fuel and engine data to leg-mounted smartphone 9. 20 litres of A-1 jet fuel 10. Rear micro gas turbine with 55kg of thrust







“Gravity is one of the few forces we’ve not yet managed to grapple. The only way we've been able to is by putting ourselves in a machine – a helicopter or an aeroplane. How cool would it be to defy that force with just ourselves?” Browning’s idea of adding horsepower to the human body to achieve self-propelled flight is a simple, but effective one. “Some people can learn to fly in minutes, because the balancing computer that is our minds is massively under-utilised. You don’t notice the engines are heavy; all you notice is the thrust. It’s insanely accurate and ridiculously stable, even in strong winds.” THE RED BULLETIN

tried three on each arm, 66kg of thrust per wrist. “That was ridiculous,” says Browning. “We kept experimenting, failing mostly – mainly by falling over – and learning.” The inventor found himself battling a century of received wisdom. “The big aeronautics companies would list half a dozen reasons why this would never work,” he says. “You’d never be able to carry enough fuel, never generate enough power or manage that power. The rotational forces would rip your arm off every time you moved it. The heat would be unmanageable – you’d disappear in a fireball. You’d end up needing a huge traditional jet pack with armrests, gyros and whatever. Then it’s going to be unfeasible from a power-to-weight ratio.” His solution was to ignore those voices. “Because that’s where every breakthrough lies,” he says. “Every invention mankind has ever made comes from disregarding conventional assumptions. The humble part of me acknowledges that 99 per cent of the time they’re right. But I hunt down the one per cent, because that’s where you change the world.” In November of 2016, he found the one per cent. With six jets attached to his body – one on each leg and two on each arm – Browning flew for six seconds across the yard. “My right leg was all over the place. It’s difficult enough to manage where your arms are pointing, but imagine when you’ve got to stabilise your legs as well, all pushing 22kg. The exhausts were a couple of inches from the ground, chipping the concrete and kicking dust up into the engines. All I could think was, ‘I’m doing it, I’m doing it.’ But there was a growing panic; I didn’t want to drift up into the air and learn something the hard way.” He landed with a huge grin on his face. “I thought, ‘My God, we’ve opened the door on something.’ When it turns out you’ve backed the right horse, even if no one else gives a shit, it’s an incredible feeling.” Five months later, and £510,000 richer, Browning stands in front of the TED audience in Vancouver and flies again. As the crowd goes wild, one of his ground crew smiles from beneath a baseball hat. It’s Adam Savage from Mythbusters. “We shared the set-up room with Boston Dynamics and ran over him with their robot dog,” smiles Browning. His journey into the stratosphere has just begun.



he next time The Red Bulletin sees Richard Browning, it’s in October 2018, at an airfield situated outside Ipswich. The site is a far cry from Browning’s farmyard test ground. A cavernous hangar is emblazoned with the logo of his company, Gravity Industries. Inside, a huge fan swirls at the rear of a pitch-black tunnel. This is a hush house – a jet-engine testing facility. In the middle of this cathedral to aeronautical power stands a steel platform where Browning is letting willing participants test his jet suit, attaching them to a safety harness suspended to a crane. His vision of bringing self-propelled flight to the masses is being realised. THE RED BULLETIN 

“We’ll show people what we can do with a race series”

Thermal imaging of the jet suit in action. Note that, at the source, the gas turbines produce an incredible amount of heat, but it rapidly drops away

“We’ve trained half a dozen people,” says Browning. The experience is open to anyone who can afford it. Browning’s team is coy about how much it costs, but it clearly doesn’t come cheap – when you run the world’s only jet-suit training camp, you’re free to set your price. Browning’s business acumen from his earlier career has come into play. Since the Vancouver TED talk, he has presented three more, staged more than 60 events across the world, filmed a show with Tom Cruise, and broken the Guinness World Record for the fastest speed in a body-controlled jet-enginepowered suit, at 51.53kph. “We unofficially improved on that recently, hitting 74kph by mistake at the Bournemouth Air Show,” adds Browning. It wasn’t the only mistake made there: both he and fellow show-pilot Angelo Grubisic ended their displays crashing into the water. Browning estimates the damage to the on-board computers at £16,000. Fortunately, he can afford it: a day earlier, he sold a jet suit to a buyer for £340,000. The   39

“There’s something beyond description about seeing a human being move around in this way”



aftercare service is decent – “It’s custom, whatever you need. I’m not going to sell you my million-dollar Ferrari unless you’re in the family.” If you too are interested in being part of the family, Selfridges also sells them online – another display of entrepreneurship that saw Browning launch the product at the prestigious London department store by landing his jet suit on the busy street outside. It’s the kind of showmanship that has the media hailing him as a real-life Iron Man, a comparison that, unsurprisingly, he enjoys. “I love the first film,” Browning smiles. “The idea that Tony Stark engineered something insane in a cave to escape adversity. He’s successful in business, but that’s not enough, so in his free time he does something exceptional. There’s a relatable theme.” Browning later reveals that Robert Downey Jr’s people are keen for the two to meet up, blurring the line between who’s inspiring who. Browning may love this millionaire technologist image, but he’s not especially concerned with shepherding in a new age of personal jet travel. “Maybe we’re on the cusp of a new dawn in human mobility, but I’m not going to waste my time talking about it. It’s like the military: we’ve got special forces units that love what we do, but how fast do you think the military moves? We can’t wait for them. Instead, we’re going to show people what we can do through racing.” Browning’s plan is to create a GP-style race series between privately owned teams licensing his jet suits and flying their pilots over water. “Like Red Bull Air Race on a more intimate scale,” he pitches. “Touring the world, showing up in Singapore Harbour, the Bay Area, the Hudson River, the Thames – we’re going to do this in the next couple of months.” This is another reason he has opened up the training facility: he’s recruiting pilots for his race series. To this end, Browning has continued enhancing his jet suit. It now features a single rear jet with 55kg of thrust, and two arm-mounted turbines. “If you draw a straight line out of each engine, it’s like a tepee with five poles; that’s why it’s so stable.” The goggles feature a head-up display showing how much fuel is left, and there’s a ‘nudge switch’ for boosting thrust on demand. “The computer also dials back the thrust according to fuel consumption, because after a couple of minutes you’re 5-6kg lighter.” There’s even a moisture-activated life jacket for the next time he makes a wet landing. Browning claims the suit can reach a height of 6,000m, its altitude limited only by the jets cutting out when the air gets too thin. There’s also a ‘lethal zone’ from about 10m off the ground to around 200m, where you’d either be too high to survive a fall or too low to deploy a parachute. Gravity Industries also states it could break the speed of sound, but again, the damage to the wearer would be fatal. “Imagine what would happen if you stuck your head out of the window of a supersonic jet fighter,” one of his team reasons. THE RED BULLETIN 

“Augmented, the human body can achieve cool stuff” But these limitations are purely theoretical, especially for an earthbound mortal strapped into the suit for the first time. Experiencing the sound and intense heat from the jets is visceral enough. But, as Browning correctly predicted, it doesn’t deliver the catastrophic outcome conventional wisdom would expect. “Put the exhaust close to your head and you’ll burn,” he says, casually supporting his trainees’ arms as the turbines start flaming on. “But hold it a metre away and it’s like a hairdryer. It drops off exponentially.” Likewise, limbs aren’t torn off by the thrust. Directed by Browning to create a tripod out of the rear and arm turbines, the downforce is strong but manageable, even for someone who hasn’t spent years training in callisthenics. In fact, Browning’s instinct to create a minimal system – one without an exoskeleton, gyroscopes or stabilisers – was on the money. The human mind and body, it turns out, is capable of developing a sense for the precise movements needed for augmented flight. It’s like riding a bike. Trying to bring your arms in to engage a smooth lift-off isn’t something easily mastered in one training session, though, and the ‘over-vectoring’ sends novices swinging uncontrollably on the harness. But, as you guide the roaring, juddering power of five jet engines into alignment, and your feet begin to leave the ground, for a few brief seconds that human dream of being liberated from gravity comes to life. You’re flying. To learn more, experience or buy the jet suit, or even apply for your own race series team, go to   41

DYNAMO Now you see hım...

He’s renowned for his jaw-dropping illusions, but when chronic illness robbed the UK’s most successful magician of his abilities, he had to overcome a stark new reality. Cue the most amazing reappearing act of his career… As a world-famous illusionist, Dynamo knows how to pull off a great vanishing trick – but the disappearing act he performed at the beginning of 2017 was his most unexpected by far. Following four series of his hit TV show Dynamo: Magician Impossible, and sold-out live shows around the globe (the Seeing Is Believing arena tour), chronic illness forced the Bradford-born showman to completely drop out of the public eye. But, as any good magician knows, making yourself vanish is only half a trick – reappearing is the pay-off. For Dynamo, that would prove very difficult to do. “I’ve had Crohn’s disease [an incurable inflammatory bowel disorder] since I was 14,” says the illusionist, real name Steven Frayne, now 36. “But it became much more intense after I contracted a bad form of food poisoning [in 2017]. That was lethal for me, and I was hospitalised. But then the medication had even worse side-effects.” His face ballooned, but far worse than that he suffered debilitating arthritis. “I couldn’t even shuffle a pack of cards. It was scary.” It could have been career-ending, but this is a guy who once captured the world’s attention by walking across the surface of the Thames; who levitated above The Shard, with the London streets 310m below. Faced with impossible odds, Frayne used his greatest talent: magic. But not in the way you’d expect. “I was like, ‘OK, if I can’t use my hands, what if I put the magic in the hands of the audience? Can I do a show where they perform most of it?’ They have no clue how they’re doing it, but they unlock special abilities in themselves. Even if I couldn’t perform, I could create this incredible space where magic happens.” Words TOM GUISE  Photography OSSI PIISPANEN 42  


“I’ve never let my illness define me. I want my magic to do that“

The sparse stage of The Abandoned Room gives Dynamo an intimate setting for his new material. It’s a far cry from the dramatic backdrops of his most spectacular stunts, such as walking on the River Thames and levitating in front of Rio’s Christ the Redeemer

That space was the basement of London hotel The Mandrake. “As soon as you walk in, it feels like a place for magic,” says Frayne, sitting in the hotel bar. The facial swelling has gone, and he’s back to his slender, boyish self – albeit noticeably frailer. His rejuvenated appearance is astounding enough to distract from another magical creature in the bar: a peacock crossed with a kangaroo, mounted on the wall. Frayne has named his custom-built theatre in the basement ‘The Abandoned Room’. “I felt like I’d been in an abandoned room for a long time, then these crazy ideas came into my head and I finally got it all out,” he explains. “I figured, ‘Why not let people into that abandoned room? Let them inside my mind.’” In late November last year, Dynamo performed a limited run of sold-out shows in front of audiences of just 90 people. “I can literally look every audience member in the eye and take them on a personal journey through my story of the last two years, brought to life via my magic. This is a conversation between me and you, and I’m going to tell you how I’ve overcome things; how we can discover abilities in ourselves that we didn’t even know existed. That’s what magic is: taking something that doesn’t exist and bringing it to life.” 44  

the red bulletin: How did you come up with The Abandoned Room? dynamo: I’ve had the idea to create an intimate show for years, but on the arena tour I was performing magic to 10,000 people at a time. My illness was a blessing and a curse: it allowed me a break. I spent my recovery creating a new style of magic – one that finds the magic in others. I’m also bringing over performers who inspired me. I was surprised there was nowhere in London like this – a space where people can see the world’s best magicians. I want this to be something that defines magic, and my development as a performer. THE RED BULLETIN


When did that love begin? When I was 11, I wanted to scare people. But only because they were picking on me. I was getting beaten up every day at school, and I wanted them to leave me alone. My grandpa showed me some freaky things to scare these people away – and it worked. So at the beginning my intentions weren’t good – magic was protection for me, and it wasn’t the kind you’d want to see. I was a misunderstood kid, and magic allowed me to share that strangeness in a way that could be accepted.

What does magic look like to you? People say, “He does magic,” but they don’t necessarily know what it is. Magic is what you feel when you witness something inexplicable. That could be giving birth to your first child, or watching Cristiano Ronaldo score an incredible goal. I do sleight of hand, performance art, dance, mime, choreography, but it’s all combined to elicit an emotion of magic. The show aims to educate people on what magic is. Where do you draw inspiration from? A lot of it comes from movies and stories. Growing up, I was in and out of hospital; I’m still there a few times a week. At first, there was no TV, so I read books. I combined the stories with skills I’d learnt from magic books. Over the past few months, I’ve studied the art of great storytelling. All the best people in their field tell stories: a footballer does it with the way they use the ball; a boxer walks into the ring and knows their story could start or end right there. A good magician can create drama, tension, fear, bring someone to tears – happy tears, too.

Has the show been a form of therapy for you? I think I’m past that point. I’ve had to sit up, look at myself and make a whole lifestyle change. It’s easy to take things for granted, but stuff happened that made me realise nothing is guaranteed. If some of these debilitations don’t leave me, how can I find ways to perform under this new lifestyle I’ve found myself in? Over the years, I’ve dealt with certain discomforts, but I’ve never let my illness define me; I want my magic to do that. I’ve got to create something that moves my story on. Did your magician’s mind for problem solving help you tackle the past year? I thought my way through it using a survivalist’s mind, because I didn’t know if what I’ve relied on in the past was going to work. After hours of practice, I’ve always known that I’m good at psychology, sleight of hand, handling a pack of cards – but I could no longer fall back on those skills. I had to develop new tricks: 95 per cent of the magic in [The Abandoned Room] is brand-new techniques I’ve only acquired over the past nine months. When I felt like things were falling apart, that gave me a new lease of life and reinvigorated my love of magic. THE RED BULLETIN 

Where is your story taking you? I used to hide behind my magic, because I was a nervous kid. I’m still quite reserved, but I’m not afraid to be myself. What’s the worst that could happen? This is a bad situation I’m in, but there’s not a problem that someone else hasn’t already been through and found a solution for. I now appreciate simplicity and I approach things in a more mature way. That’s what I love about performing in a space like this: for an hour, you’re not checking your phone, not concerned with the noise of the world, just lost in a magical moment. We all need escapism right now. Where are you now in terms of fitness? Maybe 70 per cent of what I was. I don’t have the movement or energy I used to, and I’m not allowed to do gym training, like weights. So I swim a couple of hours each day, watching Adam Peaty on YouTube and doing his drills to increase strength and cardio. Even though, in a lot of respects, my body is weaker than it used to be, it’s stronger in new ways, too. So, were you a good swimmer before? Nah, I was more used to walking on water. The Abandoned Room, curated by Dynamo, is at The Mandrake, London;   45


Crest of a wave: Ross Edgley off the coast of Plymouth on his Great British Swim last June


It took 157 days, more than half a million calories, and the ability to punch himself in the face for Ross Edgley to become the first person to swim around mainland Britain. The 33-year-old explains how a whale made it all worthwhile Words JESSICA HOLLAND 


Ross Edgley


latest ordeal. “It’s: ‘OK. Feed. Sleep. Tide changes in six hours. Everyone set your alarms.’ That’s the reality. You can’t ever pat yourself on the back.” At this low point in Scotland – and when The Red Bulletin first catches up with him on his boat, Hecate, off the coast of Suffolk in October – Edgley has Margate on his mind. The Kent seaside town marked the start of this daring (some might say mad) mission, and reaching it again is his only hope of relief. To do it, the Lincolnshire-raised athlete will have to complete the longest-ever staged sea swim, covering a 2,884km circuit of Britain without once touching dry land. It seems pretty simple to understand why no one else has completed this challenge before: it’s brutally hard. But why does a well-adjusted 33-year-old with a close family and loving girlfriend, a sports science degree from Loughborough, and a meticulously researched fitness guide that’s just been published (The World’s Fittest Book) want to spend five months alternating six-hour shifts between a cold, dangerous sea and a cramped, damp cabin, to become the first? This adventure hasn’t come out of nowhere; Edgley is from an active family: his father is a tennis coach, one grandfather ran marathons and the other was in the military, and conversations at home often turned to legendary British explorers such as George Mallory, Ernest Shackleton and Captain Webb, who became Edgley’s heroes. He has an interest in sports psychology and sociology, and in finding out what the human body is capable of and what kind of training and nutrition can push those limits. In previous years, he has played water polo for Great Britain, run a marathon while pulling a car, and carried a 45kg tree for an entire triathlon – or “treeathlon”, as he calls it, adding, “I did it for the pun alone.” Each feat he pulled off was more challenging than the last, thanks to his growing physical capability, and this helped him cultivate a level of mental discipline and fortitude that, from the outside, can look ominously similar to a death wish. This can be difficult to understand, not least because Edgley is so upbeat. The man radiates cheerfulness. With the upper body of a circus strongman and the scruffy beard of an apocalypse survivor, he’s able to fill any silence with jokes, stories and questions. He’s usually the butt of the THE RED BULLETIN



oss Edgley pulls his face out of the icy waters of the Atlantic Ocean, off the east coast of Scotland, and shouts over to his support team. He’s about halfway through his widely celebrated five-month swim around Great Britain, sleeping onboard a catamaran between six-hour slogs through the waves, and he’s currently trying to muscle his way past one of the world’s biggest whirlpools without getting sucked in. By this point in his journey, he’s grown accustomed to being smacked in the face by venomous jellyfish – just as he’s used to trench foot, torn ligaments, deep sea ulcers, an open wound on his neck from a chafing wetsuit, constant fatigue, and a tongue that’s peeling off in strips from overexposure to salt. But something about the way his face is stinging right now feels more intense than usual. “Mate, it’s still burning,” he tells Taz, one of his three crew members, who’s monitoring Edgley’s progress from an inflatable motorboat. Taz takes one look at Edgley and shouts back, “It’s still on your face!” A tentacle from a lion’s mane jellyfish, which has a sting comparable to a long-lasting electric shock, has wrapped itself around Edgley’s goggles and plastered itself across his cheek and forehead. He spends a couple of seconds feeling sorry for himself, takes a breath, then untangles it. Edgley puts his goggles back on, but they’re leaking. He checks the seal, then realises they no longer fit because his face is so swollen from all the stings, just one of which can see a person hospitalised. But instead of seeking medical attention, Edgley continues in a way few people could: “I put the goggles over my eyes and just punched them into my face.” Only in Edgley’s world could this be considered a logical decision. While one part of his brain is in pure survival mode – “at the point where a feral dog would chew its own leg off to get out of a trap” – there’s another that’s still making calculations. He could crawl into the catamaran now, but he would just have to be dropped back at that exact same point in the middle of the night, when the tide is back in his favour. So he keeps swimming for another two hours, then pulls himself back onto the boat and collapses. But there’s no time to celebrate getting through his

“There’s no time to doubt yourself. It’s a war in your head”

Ross Edgley

“The last mile? Indescribable. Tears of elation and relief. Everything I’d suppressed” joke in his own narratives, rather than the hero, and he seems more comfortable singing the praises of his support crew and other athletes than he is analysing what makes him capable of such extraordinary feats. Below the surface, however, there is method to his madness. If anything, this lightness is just another sign of his determination. He wants to live life at the very edge of what’s possible, and it’s harder to do that in a bad mood: “If I just swam grumpy and gritting my teeth for 150 days, what’s that going to do to my stress hormones, which affect inflammation and the immune system?” Sometimes when swimming facedown in darkness, Edgley says, he’ll find himself “having the best private jokes and laughing with myself. I laughed throughout the Irish Sea”. In lower moments – perhaps when his face has swollen to twice its normal size as he tries to avoid a whirlpool of freezing water – Edgley remembers what he was taught by friends in the Royal Marines: when you feel that you have nothing left to give, you usually have about 40 per cent more in you, if you can just push through. You might briefly catalogue the state of your body, he says, which in the case of the Great British Swim could involve a bleeding neck, a deepening ankle wound and a banging headache. “You’d go, ‘OK, noted. Is any of it life-threatening? No. Good. Is any of it going to cause permanent damage? Not at the moment. Am I going to be optimal with my swimming today? Absolutely not. But can I get in the water and make it at least one mile? Yes. Then get in.’”

point where he can let go. For the last mile of his journey, on November 4, 2018, before stumbling back onto the beach where it all started, Edgley was joined by 300 open-water swimmers, who surrounded him in a group hug before setting off towards the shore. “It was indescribable,” he says when we meet again in London a week later – he with a shorter beard and a pasta-fuelled smile. “It was smiles upon tears upon goosebumps. Everything I had been suppressing – tears of elation, relief, actually allowing myself to maybe celebrate – was coming to the surface. I was like, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa. You’ve still got to get on land.’” His feet were so unused to bearing his weight that he almost face-planted in front of the assembled crowd. But he’d completed a challenge many thought was impossible, smashed several records, and received a hero’s welcome in Margate. Today, he chats about the best times during his journey: when he was plied with whisky by fishing communities along the east coast of Scotland, fed by a woman who swam out to his boat with a freshly baked cake on her head, and accompanied in the water by dolphins, seals and a 6m-long basking shark. But he freely admits that punching his goggles into his swollen face next to a deadly whirlpool was more representative of the experience as a whole. Edgley, who describes the Great British Swim as “by far and away the hardest thing I’ve ever done”, knows how the stories of almost all his explorer heroes ended: Shackleton suffered a fatal heart attack in the Antarctic at the age of 47; Mallory was 37 when he died while climbing Everest; and Captain Matthew Webb, who in 1875 proved it was possible to swim the English Channel swimming breaststroke and wearing nothing more than a woollen bathing suit, drowned at the age of 35 while attempting to swim the Whirlpool Rapids at the base of Niagara Falls. Written on Webb’s tombstone near that spot are the words: “Nothing great is ever easy.” So when people tell Edgley he’s the next Captain Webb and ask what he’s planning next, he feels a little uneasy. He knows that subsequent challenges




dgley says that in these moments of deep fatigue, “There’s no time to doubt yourself. It’s definitely a war in your head.” While at sea, he can choose to go back to shore at any time for a hot bath and some R&R – he’s like a prisoner with the keys to the door in his hand. But, as he explains it, “You’ve got to ignore that door. You’ve thrown away the key.” Fatigue is your body telling you to pull the handbrake, and he’s learnt how to ignore those messages to the point where he stops receiving them. “Keep doing that, tide after tide, and you’re going to go numb or turn off that self-preservation mechanism. You might break something in that mind-body connection. There’s a fine line between stupidity and heroics, and we’re constantly playing with the boundaries between common sense and hypothermia, common sense and adrenal fatigue, common sense and your body shutting down.” But ultimately it’s negotiating this fine line between success and failure that gets Edgley to the

Edgley wades into the English Channel at Margate Harbour on June 1 to begin his epic swim THE RED BULLETIN

Wow! You felt a real peak of adrenaline when you hit the slope and your heart was pumping pure emotion. When you caught up with your friends who were admiring the mountain crests, you burst out laughing because the peaks reminded you of your own pulse rate. So, now, is your heart ready for some amazing cuisine, a spa and a starry night, too? Look for new sensations on

italian alpine experience

The Alps with an Italian touch.

Ross Edgley

Edgley’s big swim breakdown 2,884KM swum (equivalent to swimming the English Channel roughly 85 times, or 57,680 lengths of an Olympic-sized swimming pool) 157 DAYS (or almost 23 weeks) at sea

8.7 KNOTS top swim speed 504,732 CALORIES burned (equivalent to 1,964 Big Macs)

15,000 CALORIES consumed daily

WILDLIFE ENCOUNTERS 1 minke whale 1 (6m) basking shark 1 pod of dolphins 1 colony of puffins 2 eagles 6 sea otters 30 seals

314 CANS OF RED BULL consumed

FIVE ROLLS of gaffer tape used to fix broken skin

610 BANANAS consumed

3KG of Vaseline to combat chafing

40,000 swimming strokes per day 2,300,000 strokes in total

35 NAUTICAL KILOMETRES longest swim in a single tide 52  


must be done for the right reasons, with the right support, and with enough of his logical brain firing to counterbalance his inability to quit a challenge once he’s started. But he also wants to keep pushing the boundaries of what’s humanly possible. Even now, as he’s still relearning how to walk on feet that have atrophied from a lack of use, Edgley is considering his next escapade. And though he’s not yet able to reveal it publicly, his latest idea makes the journey he’s just completed seem like a walk in the park. For many, months of isolation, pain and constant physical effort would outweigh the messages Edgley received from people telling him he inspires them to get out of their comfort zone. It wouldn’t be worth the memorable day when a minke whale swam alongside him in the Bristol Channel, mistaking him for an injured seal and guiding him to shallow water. But, for Edgley, “That experience alone was worth all the jellyfish stings, everything.” He’s determined to live life at its limits, and it was this big picture that allowed him the odd momentary mental break from his great sea mission, before he focused again on the seabed for another six-hour shift, pushing one arm after another through cold, salty water. “There will be a time when my body won’t let me do this,” he says. “But, when I look back, I’ll be able to say, ‘I couldn’t have done any more.’” THE RED BULLETIN


A support vessel provided welcome respite for Edgley between the record breaker’s six-hour-long swim stages



1 year for £20

With more climb than the Tour de France’s toughest test, but on risky off-road terrain, Bhutan’s Tour of the Dragon is touted as the world’s toughest one-day mountain-bike race. But, in the Eastern Himalayan kingdom known for promoting happiness, this annual suffer-fest is actually part of a royal campaign to encourage personal well-being Words SCOTT YORKO Photography JUSTIN BASTIEN


The weather in Bhutan can change at a moment’s notice, switching from a freezing-cold downpour to bright sunshine that illuminates beautiful views


Our intrepid writer, Scott Yorko, ploughs through one of the many obstacles on the road between Bumthang and the capital, Thimphu

“It takes every ounce of everything you have to keep it together�


t’s 2am on a clammy, pitch-black morning in early September, and the air smells like cow dung. Beneath the glare of a spotlight, the Bhutanese road-safety crew are dancing what looks like the Macarena. Their gentle movements mimic a slow-tempo karate as the soft sounds of an Asian flute flutter in the background. Many of the residents of Bumthang, Bhutan (population: 18,000), are here watching the ceremony (or ransacking the porridge stand) and waiting for the race to begin. Over at the starting line, 48 mountain bikers are lining up on an oil-splotched road as rear lights flash red across their faces. No one in the front row, including six soldiers from the Royal Bhutan Army, is taller than 1.7m. They look weightless, like jockeys poised to whip out of the gates. Some riders make casual jokes, others are clearly nervous; they’ll be in the saddle for at least the next 12 hours. Just as the starting pistol is about to be fired, a race official in an orange jumpsuit taps a microphone and makes an announcement: “The weather is not good. The roads are slippery. Please don’t use our medical team.” BANG! The cyclists pedal off into the darkness. The Tour of the Dragon (TOD) is a 268km bike race on a sketchy, serpentine road that crosses four mountain passes – three of which stand more than 3,000m high – all in one long, sadistic day, with more than 5,000m of climbing. (By comparison, the hardest stages of the 2018 Tour de France covered just over 4,000m of climbing in a day, and that was ultralight race bikes on paved roads.) With its apocalyptic conditions, the TOD is billed as ‘the toughest one-day mountain bike race in the world’, and there’s no way anyone could ride this course on skinny road-bike tyres. “It takes every ounce of everything you have to keep it together,” warns Joel Einhorn, the founder of Hanah, a nutritional supplement company that sources ancient herbs from Bhutan. Einhorn was the only American rider to cross the finish line in last year’s race, having dodged multiple landslides and hundreds of cows, monkeys and raging diesel trucks as deep, coarse mud wore two sets of brake pads down to the metal. Nestled above the far northeast corner of India, Bhutan has a northern border with Tibet that runs along a treacherous seam of the Eastern Himalayan mountain range, which has historically protected the Switzerland-sized country from outside influence and allowed it to remain one of the only nations in the world never to be colonised by an outside power. Until very recently, this geographic and political isolation delayed Bhutan’s progress toward modernisation. THE RED BULLETIN 

Alongside the road, cheerful monks pick apples for an afternoon snack

Many Bhutanese still live off the land; the first paved road wasn’t completed until 1962, and the government didn’t open its borders to foreign visitors until 1974. There are still no traffic lights in the entire country. The designated route of the TOD, which takes us from Bumthang to the capital city of Thimphu, can be treacherous. ‘The road’, as it is most commonly referred to, experiences daily landslides that have to be cleared three to four times per week. During the summer, a three-month monsoon season erodes the earth so severely that truck-sized boulders routinely tumble down onto the road. Tour buses can end up stranded for days, while mangled guardrails hang above chunks of dislodged pavement and crumbling bluffs. And yet the road remains an engineering marvel that miraculously wraps around the faces of steep mountainsides in a delicate ribbon of dirt and asphalt. Thanks to large amounts of dynamite, some stretches cut through slabs of craggy, white rock. There are virtually no flat sections, but there are hundreds of roadside stupas (domed monuments housing sacred relics), memorial crosses, shrines, hydro-powered prayer wheels, and warning signs   57

The road and the race are a great source of pride for the Bhutanese people

country’s political and social initiatives to maximise the success of its citizens. Put simply, Bhutan is prioritising the pursuit of happiness. At the age of 63, the former king remains a devout cyclist who can regularly be seen riding his fullsuspension, carbon-fibre mountain bike in the hills. “He’s a hardcore rider,” says his mechanic, Kinga Wangchuk. “He never gives up.” It has long been his belief that a love of cycling and an active lifestyle coincide with the values of GNH. Although the current king also loves cycling, it’s his half-brother, His Royal Highness Prince Jigyel Ugyen Wangchuck, who has most clearly inherited their father’s fanaticism. A lifelong athlete who regularly trains with his security entourage and participates in local basketball tournaments, Prince Jigyel believes it was only natural that he should get into mountain biking; after all, he has the Eastern Himalayas as his playground. “Cycling is a very important sport to promote national happiness and well-being,” the prince states in an email. “My goal has always been to create a worldclass cycling event in Bhutan.”

A rare smile from one of the riders during a brief break

with messages such as ‘Please Don’t Be Unpredictable’. Despite the terror of simply driving it – let alone cycling it at night in the rain – the road and the race are a great source of pride for the Bhutanese people. During the last decade, however, Bhutan has gained attention for another USP: Gross National Happiness (GNH), a philosophy that promotes the value of the population’s well-being and quality of life over its Gross Domestic Product. The term was first coined in 1972 by the fourth Druk Gyalpo (“Dragon King”) Jigme Singye Wangchuck, and in 2008 it was written into Article 9 of Bhutan’s Constitution. This followed the king’s decision to dissolve the absolute monarchy, form a parliamentary democracy, and voluntarily abdicate the throne in favour of his eldest son, His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck. The crown having been passed on to the next generation, GNH has become a screening tool for policy proposals and potential trade partnerships, based on four guiding pillars: sustainable socioeconomic development, environmental conservation, good governance, and the promotion and preservation of culture. These principles are at the forefront of the 58  


o, in 2010, the royal founded the TOD. The first year was essentially a test run; of the 23 participants, only nine completed the race, including Prince Jigyel, but they had proved it could be done. Since then, the TOD has become an annual competition that attracts a variety of locals and a smattering of Westerners. In 2015 it spawned a shorter, 60km race called Dragon’s Fury, which is open to adults and junior competitors aged 14 to 18. “The TOD is a perfect marriage of promoting healthy living through cycling,” writes the prince. Today, the prince, 34, also heads the Bhutan Olympic Committee in his ongoing effort to encourage fitness across the country. “How can a nation be happy if people don’t play sports?” he asks. There’s no denying that the royal family’s love of cycling has encouraged Bhutan’s citizens to follow suit. Bike shops and youth cycling clubs are popping up across the country, and more and more villages are becoming linked through trail networks. Even those without access to bicycles have caught the fever: more than 1,000 volunteers take their posts along the TOD course well before sunrise and remain throughout the day to support riders in any way they can – be it manning aid stations or sweeping gravel off the turns. These eager helpers range from bald monks in orange robes and older women with wide smiles, to schoolchildren who hold up signs of encouragement, offer assistance and hand out water and candy bars. THE RED BULLETIN

Thinley Norbu, a teenage member of the Thimphu Mountain Biking Club, makes his way through one of the many treacherous landslides that litter the course

Above: Bhutanese students dressed in traditional ghos line the road to wish the riders good luck, chanting, “Do your best! Do your best!”

Below: Thinley Norbu endures sudden cramp. Dehydration and exhaustion are as dangerous as the breakneck switchbacks and dodgy road surfaces



Above: aid stations along the route provide food, water and plenty of encouragement – they’re a lifeline to the riders during such a gruelling race

Below: riders frequently pass stupas – mound-like Buddhist shrines that often contain religious relics and serve as places of meditation



The Tour of the Dragon takes riders up mountains, past farms and rice paddies, and through small villages nestling in lush, green valleys


arly on in the race, a small lead group has emerged ahead of the main peloton. Among this pack is a German private-equity investor named Heinz, who has two blinding lights mounted to his helmet and handlebar. He and the other riders dodge potholes, camouflaged spectators, tumbling boulders the size of bike wheels, and roaming cows. (Two days earlier, during a warm-up ride, a Frenchman was bucked off his bike by one such cow. Both bovine and human were fine, only rattled.) Locals are camped out around small fires on the roadside, waiting to cheer riders as they pass. One well-intentioned spectator is trying to heave buckets of water at riders’ drive chains to rinse mud from their gears, but appears to be dousing their lower bodies instead, or missing entirely. It’s still dark as the first riders close in on the 3,430m saddle of


Yotong La, the first major mountain pass, at 4:09am. Starting the day with a 900m climb would surely be a jolt to anyone’s system, and any initial adrenalin is by now subsiding. Three hundred yards from the top, HRH Prince Jigyel comes riding the opposite way, wearing a gho – a traditional Bhutanese robe – and flanked by his bodyguard. “Good job, guys,” says the prince in a soft, deep voice. “Keep it up.” Boosted by his encouraging words, the small group of riders crest the summit in front of a crowd of cheering volunteers and spectators standing beneath a canopy of tattered prayer flags. At the top, the temperature is struggling to reach 5°C, and several competitors stop to throw on a windbreaker for the 29km, 1,200m-plus descent to the Trongsa Viewpoint. Heinz is the first to take off again, to tackle a horrendous stretch of road – nicknamed THE RED BULLETIN

after a local demoness, ‘Nyala Duem’ – that is in the process of being torn up and excavated for future paving. The mud is so thick in some sections that riders must pedal frantically to move downhill without sinking deeper into the sludge. More than 30 excavators stand parked just off to the side, waiting to clear the next surprise landslide. Here, any of a multitude of small mishaps could spell disaster for the riders: a chunk of dirt in the eye, the battery in a front light dying. At 4:30am, it’s still pitch black, and flying downhill along the edge of a sheer cliff that drops off thousands of feet below with no guardrail is dangerous enough in perfect conditions. “If you go off one of those cliffs, no one will ever find you,” a local rider explained yesterday before the start of the race. It no longer seems like an exaggeration. Only 190km and two more mountain passes to go.


till way out front are four of the Royal Bhutan Army soldiers, cranking hard on their bicycles (provided by the prince) and setting a breakneck pace for anyone hoping to crack the top five. Among them is 28-year-old Tshering Dendup. Although he has only been riding a year, Dendup sometimes trains on the bike for 24 hours straight. Other times, he breaks it up into eight-hour sessions over three consecutive days. Like his fellow servicemen participating in the TOD, Dendup is quiet, but his high cheekbones peak when he smiles and declares his love of cycling. “I do it for physical fitness,” he said before the race, “but I also feel like I’m serving my country.” In addition to their military training, these handpicked soldiers are given ample time to log serious bike mileage. “His Royal Highness’ support to our young soldier cyclists is immensely profound,” says Lieutenant Ugyen Dorji, who is also taking part in the race this year. “I am confident that his vision was always to take our country’s athletes to the outside world and give them opportunities to excel among other nations, so that maybe one day they can take part in international events and raise the dragon flags higher.” (The national flag is emblazoned with an image of Druk, the Thunder Dragon from Bhutanese mythology.) But it’s not only the soldiers who the prince is here to support. Two days before the race, he emphasised the importance of Bhutanese riders becoming competitive on the international stage, and spoke of cycling’s role in introducing the Bhutanese people to the varied terrain of their country. “That’s the best part about mountain biking,” he said with sharp, royal conviction, a golden-handled sword strapped to his hip. “And [cycling] shows us so much of ourselves.” One rider intimately familiar with the prince’s support is 36-year-old Aaron Bayard, an American living in Thimphu, who has voluntarily trained local bike mechanics. In 2016, late-season monsoons left the road in some of the muddiest and most miserable conditions ever for the race. Bayard got to the bottom of the 3,150m Dochula Pass with the final 40km climb ahead of him when he broke


The royal family’s love of cycling has encouraged the citizens to follow suit

down physically and mentally. “I was walking it, pushing my bike and limping,” he says at a pre-race barbeque outside the Chakhar Lhakhang temple in Bumthang. “I called my wife and told her I was about to quit and get on the bus. Ten minutes later, the prince pulls up in a car, one of his assistants covers my legs in a pain-killing spray, and then the prince gets on his bike to ride with me. He kept saying, ‘All those people up there are cheering for you. You can do this.’ Just riding with him, you kind of forget you’re in pain. I made the cut-off time by one minute. He’s the reason I finished.” Dochula Pass is where most riders quit: the switchbacks are relentless, and every tight corner gives way to more turns, with progressively steeper grades and no relief. After an hour-long descent from the 3,430m Pele La Pass, riders slog through 33°C heat at 1,400m to reach the village of Metshina at the base of Dochula. Behind them lie several miles of road that snake down lumpy ridges and crooked valleys like a shrivelled intestine; ahead is sun-baked road. Then, around the next corner, 100 schoolchildren in blue robes scream at the top of their lungs, cheer each rider as if they’ve broken out front in a short sprint, wave white khata scarves, and chant, “Do your best! Do your best!” It’s the blast of energy every competitor needs to keep on pedalling. The race isn’t over yet, however. A monk driving by in a little Suzuki announces that the top of the next climb is still “pretty far”, before smiling and scooting away. But then, just minutes later, the final prayer flags adorning the Dochula summit come into view. The descent into Thimphu is littered with sharp curves, and busy with Saturday traffic. The finish line is visible below the clock tower in the capital’s central square. Of the 48 riders competing, only 26 will make the 6pm cut-off time at Dochula. Almost all of the Royal Bhutan Army riders have crashed, but they still achieve impressive placings: sixth, fifth, third and second. The winner of this year’s TOC is Aaron Bayard – the American who barely finished in 2016 – with a time of 11 hours, 11 minutes and 42 seconds; a margin of more than 50 minutes. The locals now consider Bayard part of their community, and they’re clearly happy for him. The following day, at a barbecue just downhill from the fourth king’s palace, riders share stories of breaking their bike chain, getting multiple flat tyres, and peeing in their shorts while riding – to save precious time. The Bhutanese riders, already keen to get back in the saddle, eagerly ask the same question: “Will you come back to race next year?”   63

Words LOU BOYD 64  


MAYA GABEIRA The gift of the Gab

Turning the tide: Maya Gabeira took up surfing at the age of 14 and has become a pioneer for women in the sport

Maya Gabeira

Few people could turn a near-death experience into a historic triumph for women’s sport. But, thanks to skill, self-belief and a few thousand signatures, big-wave surfer Maya Gabeira has done just that


Four-and-a-half years after her near-fatal accident, Gabeira returned to Nazaré and rode a 20.72m wave, the biggest ever surfed by a woman

point where I was super fit and I trusted my mind, knowing I was now a thousand times more prepared than in 2013.” Two years after her accident, with her strength and skill returning, Gabeira made a crazy decision: she moved across the world to Portugal, leaving her adopted home of Hawaii behind in order to be closer to Nazaré and the wave that almost killed her. Living locally, training, and getting back on her board helped her to prepare for the point at which her readiness would coincide with the arrival of another momentous swell at Nazaré. That came last January, just THE RED BULLETIN


In 2013, Maya Gabeira towed-in to a 25m wave during a monster swell at Nazaré, Portugal’s big-wave surfing mecca. Had she completed the ride, it would have been a recordbreaking feat that entered her into the history books. But that day became historic for a different reason: she almost died. “It happened so fast,” the 31-year-old Brazilian surfer recalls, thinking back to that disastrous day five years ago. “It was definitely the biggest wave I have ever seen.” The wipe out, which has now been viewed almost half a million times on YouTube, threw Gabeira from her board, ripped off her life jacket and pushed her underwater, breaking her fibula and knocking her unconscious. “I had this sensation of unbelievable sadness,” she says. “I just thought, ‘This is it, I’m going to die. This is not going to have a happy ending.’” When Gabeira found her way to the surface, she was alone, unable to see, and had no means of communicating with her jet-ski partner, Carlos Burle. The wave held the surfer under two more times before Burle could make his way over to her and throw a rope. “I had a serious lack of oxygen, but I managed to get close to Carlos and get a bit of drag towards the on-side, to stop myself from being thrown towards the rocks,” she says. “That’s when I passed out.” Dragged from the water after a perilous nine minutes, she was given CPR on the beach, resuscitated and rushed to the nearest hospital. The accident was reported globally and discussed at length. Surfing icon Laird Hamilton publicly shamed Gabeira for attempting the wave at all. “She doesn’t have the skill to be in those conditions,” the American said on CNN. “She should not be in this kind of surf.” Female big-wave surfing, then still a relatively new sport, was already controversial, and Gabeira quickly became the poster girl for those who believed a woman’s place was not in 25m swell. If she had decided on that day to leave big waves behind for ever – with serious injuries, major surgery and a near-death experience under her belt – no one would have blamed her. Between the damage from that day and the back surgery that followed, Gabeira lost two years of her surfing career. Riding on and off, but never at 100 per cent, she clung to the belief she had to return to big-wave surfing and the record she’d been so close to claiming. But it seemed like a distant dream. “I had years of doubt about whether my confidence, my will and my ability to take risks was still there,” she says. “There was lot of insecurity and fear. Fear of it happening again, fear of putting myself back in that spot. When you know what can happen, it’s hard not to think about it.” However, by training herself back to full strength, Gabeira began to rediscover her old mindset. “The fact I put my body back together again to a high level of performance was the touch of confidence I needed to overcome the fear and ultimately face those really big days,” she says. “I got to the

“I had a serious lack of oxygen, but I managed to get a bit of drag towards the on-side, to stop myself being thrown towards the rocks. That’s when I passed out” over two years after she’d returned. The bay’s deep offshore canyon funnelled the ocean towards the headland, creating the seven-storey waves that had defeated her once before. “This time, I knew the place well,” says Gabeira. “On that day, I waited three-and-a-half hours for the right wave; I knew it was going to be gigantic.” She saw a giant peak coming towards her, just like four-and-a-half years before. But this time she saw it with an experienced eye – she saw its size, the wind across it, and the danger. She let it pass, choosing instead to tow-in to the slightly smaller wave that followed. THE RED BULLETIN 

But it was still large enough for Gabeira to make history. At almost 21m high, it was not only the most impressive wave surfed that day, it was the biggest wave ever surfed by a woman. She had done it. But little did Gabeira realise that a whole new kind of battle was about to come her way. An independent expert was called to confirm the recordbreaking wave. Gabeira had surfed the tallest part, he certified; she had cleared the ride, made it to the safe zone, and the wave was a record size. Gabeira waited for the World Surf League (WSL) to recognise the achievement and enter   67

Maya Gabeira

“When you want to accomplish something, the real work is what you do when nobody is looking. Then, when the big day comes along, you’re prepared”




Gabeira in action at Nazaré, where, in November 2013, a 25m wave knocked her unconscious and almost killed her

her into the Guinness World Records. Months passed with barely a response to her emails, then she was given assurance it was in hand and that she’d hear something soon. More months went by. “I went to the [WSL] awards ceremony, and that’s when I realised it was never going to happen,” she says. “My wave wasn’t even shown that day. I realised I had to do something about it. I had to expose [the WSL] and put it out there publicly that the wave wasn’t being looked at. I needed everyone to ask why. I needed to show everyone that women don’t have the same platform [as men] for their waves to be judged.” Turning to her fans for help, Gabeira launched a public petition and began to tell her story of the accident, of her journey back to Nazaré, and of the wave that was apparently being ignored by the WSL and Guinness World Records. She called their bluff. “It’s been a long time since I first read the Guinness book,” she wrote in her online petition. “I dream now of some other little girl who might read the book and see my name, then one day find her own big waves to ride… Ask the WSL to make good on their promise to recognise a world record for women in big-wave surfing.” The signatures began rolling in, first by the hundreds and then by the thousands. Her phone started ringing as newspapers and magazines across the globe wanted to find out more. “I had no idea whether I was going to get one signature or a thousand. I had no idea what would even count as a decent number,” she laughs. “We ended up collecting almost 20,000.” More important, as soon as Gabeira turned to the public for help, the WSL got in touch. “They got worried about their image,” she says. “They wanted to settle the case.” Perseverance paid off. On October 1 last year, Gabeira stood on the WSL stage at the opening ceremony of the Big Wave THE RED BULLETIN 

Tour season and was presented with a Guinness World Record. It was the first awarded to a woman for big-wave surfing – a landmark moment for the sport. Accepting her award, Gabeira changed the landscape for all the women following in her footsteps, and created a new target for others to aim for. “I was the first one,” she says. “I’m proud that something is established; that a platform is there and other female athletes can come and not have such a hard task.” Gabeira has an air of confidence when talking about the experience. But did she always have faith she would one day be accepting that award? “It was getting the wave recognised that I wasn’t sure was going to happen,” she says. Of her own ability, however, she never allowed herself any doubt, even after the accident. “I just love to work, and I had a clear goal and the will to achieve it. When you want to accomplish something, the real work is what you do when nobody is looking. Then, when that big day comes, you’re prepared.” In 2013, Gabeira was seen by many surfers as a brave but foolish twentysomething girl who had surfed something bigger than she could handle and almost got herself killed. Yet, by refusing to allow other people to set her limitations, the Brazilian has defied all expectations. She is big-wave surfing’s greatest female record-breaker – a fact that shocked everyone but herself. “I believed it was only right that the record should exist for women as well as for men,” Gabeira says. “That it was me who did it? I’m not that surprised. I was supposed to be the first one – I’ve been [doing] this for more than 10 years.” She pauses. “I must say, though, it turned out to be a bit harder than I thought it would be.” Instagram: @maya   69

Return to Form Kick off the new year with fresh resolve.

Two fitness influencers share motivational philosophy for achieving your personal best


“I like the mental challenge of pushing yourself when your brain is telling you to stop. Your body is capable; it’s mastering the mental side that I enjoy the most” James Yates Fitness model, influencer, and author of A Scrapbook of Conditioning Workouts

OHMME Sagan vest,; ULTIMATE PERFORMANCE sweatbands, Opposite page: ROXY Spy Game technical leggings and sports bra in Charcoal Heather Flower Field,; ELLESSE Siena trainers, ellesse.; GARMIN Vívomove HR watch,; earrings, model’s own


UNDER ARMOUR Train One Panel cap,; PEAK PERFORMANCE Hatcher J jacket,; GARMIN Fenix 5 Plus watch,

“Walk more – it’s the easiest exercise there is. Take the stairs, walk that tube stop instead of jumping on the train, use your lunch break for a stroll. Just move your body more” James

“I set realistic but hard goals; ones that excite me but aren’t impossible. I also set smaller goals en route to my big goals so that I can switch things up to keep me motivated” Revée Walcott-Nolan One of the UK’s top 10 female 800m athletes, national U23 athletics champion, model, and sports science graduate

MONS ROYALE Stella X-Back bra and briefs,; STANCE Run socks,; UNDER ARMOUR Breathe Trainer Training shoes,; APPLE Watch Series 4 with Nectarine sport band, THE RED BULLETIN 


UNDER ARMOUR Vanish Mid sports bra and Breathe Trainer Training shoes,; PEAK PERFORMANCE Go shorts,; ULTIMATE PERFORMANCE sweatbands, Opposite page: SEAFOLLY Sunflower long-line crop top,; RHA MA750 Wireless earbuds,


“If I haven’t started my day with a workout, my mood gets low. Working out always sets me up for a good day and fills me with energy. It gives me purpose” Revée

ARC’TERYX Incendo SL jacket, arcteryx. com; UNDER ARMOUR Storm Cyclone ColdGear leggings,

“Tiredness, mood swings, below-average performance – struggling through a training session and then having mediocre workouts is of no benefit. If you feel your body needs a rest, it does” James

“Training is easier and more enjoyable with friends or a trainer. Find people who live near you and have similar goals and fitness. Most areas have run groups or sessions that you can join” Revée

ELLESSE Strettina body,


“I like working out early in the morning, as once I’m done I’m ready to have a productive day. But I’ve always performed better in the evenings – fully awake and properly fuelled. Every person is different. Go when you feel most ready to push yourself” Revée

James wears NEW BALANCE Q Speed Pullover, Transform 2-in-1 shorts and Fresh Foam Cruz v2 Knit shoes,; STANCE Run socks, Revée wears SPEEDO H2O Active Stormza rash top, Stormza tank top and Stormza sport briefs,; UNDER ARMOUR Breathe Trainer Training shoes,



MONS ROYALE Icon singlet,; OHMME Dharma yoga pants,; SUUNTO 3 Fitness watch, Models JAMES YATES (@yatesy17) REVÉE WALCOTT-NOLAN (@reveewn) both @ W MODEL MANAGEMENT  

Photographer’s Assistant DAVID DINIS Digital Operator HO HAI TRAN  Make-up AMBER SIBLEY using Tropic

“If you have to guilt-trip yourself into working out, you’re going for the wrong reasons. It should be enjoyable and have a positive impact on your mental health. I try to go in ready to smash the workout, and come out feeling I’ve achieved that” James



guide Get it. Do it. See it.




Page 88

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Page 92


Vent while you train thanks to one man’s wacky fitness innovation: the Scapegoat

A heads-up on the latest wireless and noisecancelling headphones, from ’buds to over-ear

Channel your inner Goldilocks and get the temperature just right – on and off the slopes


Himalayas not challenging enough for you? Try racing around them in a tuk-tuk. In fancy dress. We go trackside at the Rickshaw Run Page 82




Do it

The Belgian-Kenyan drivers of the Stealth Snail team stop to take in the sights before passing though the Sarchu checkpoint


THREE-WHEELING IN THE HIMALAYAS To the left, a rock face; to the right, a sheer drop. Between the two, you in a tuk-tuk. Are you ready for the craziest race of your life?


he stone marker by the side of the road tells you everything you need to know: “Taglang La. Altitude: 5,328 metres. You are passing through the second highest pass in the world.” Rubble and debris line both sides of the dirt road,


while the snow-covered giants of the Himalayas tower in the background. An icy wind sends snowflakes swirling through the air, and there’s not a person to be seen. Then an auto-rickshaw appears around a hairpin bend. That would be a weird enough

There’s no emergency number to call during the Rickshaw Run – get stuck and you have to help yourself





Anyone exploring remote mountain roads in a tuk-tuk should know how to ask the way



Shimla Start

New Delhi

Stop-go style: each team decorates their rickshaw – and themselves – before the race


A tuk-tuk in the Himalayas? The drivers are greeted with incredulity in mountain villages

sight on its own, but the man at the wheel is dressed as a reindeer, and his co-pilot is wearing a chicken costume. The Bums of Anarchy, a Darwin-based duo, have, after six days, reached the highest part of their journey and are leading what surely must be the world’s wackiest race. The first Rickshaw Run took place in India 12 years ago. Thirty-four teams from all over the planet travelled the route from Kochi in the south-west to Darjeeling in the north-east, driving auto-rickshaws the locals call tuk-­tuks; the distance they had to cover was some 3,000km. Even today, the Rickshaw Run has no prescribed route. Its British


“If you choose the quickest route, you’re bound to lose,” advise the race organisers organisers – The Adventurists – help participants by providing the rickshaws, and also GPS coordinates for petrol stations and no-go areas. Other than that, the teams are on their own. And that’s how it should be. “If you choose the quickest route, you’re bound to lose,”


The rocky roads between Shimla and Leh are only open from June to September, when they’re not blocked by snow, avalanches or accident wreckage. The highest point of the journey is the Taglang La mountain pass at an elevation of 5,328m above sea level.



Indian rupees £1 = 90 rupees 1 rupee = 100 paisa

Hepatitis A and B Typhus Rabies

TALK Namaste Dhaniyavad Haa/Nahin Aapka naam kya hai? Mera naam… hai Mujie ye walah chayje! …kahan hai? Kitna dhur hai? Hamen madad kee zarurat hai!

Hello Thank you Yes/No What is your name? My name is… I want that! Where is… ? How far is it? We need help!



Rajma madra Paneer makhani Chole bhature

Street food Raw food Tap water

VISIT Shashur Monastery (Keylong) Suicide Point (Kalpa) Tso Kar Lake (near Lotus Camp)



Do it




It’s slow and loud, and after a day behind the wheel you’ll feel like an elephant has been kicking your ass – but the tuk-tuk is the most iconic vehicle in Southeast Asia

ENGINE Two-stroke with induced ventilation CYLINDERS One HORSEPOWER 7hp IDLING SPEED 5,000rpm TRANSMISSION Four forward gears, one reverse TYRES/WHEELS Three SEATBELTS None AIRBAGS None TANK Eight litres (1.4L reserve) TOP SPEED 55kph (downhill) ENGINE SIZE 145,45cm³ SYSTEM VOLTAGE 12v

THE INVENTOR In 1947, aeronautical engineer and Vespa designer Corradino D’Ascanio came up with a three-wheeled microcar to provide low-cost transportation and aid the economic recovery of post-war Italy. The first auto-rickshaw – the Piaggio Ape – was born.

THE CHAMPION The world’s most extreme tuk-tuk driver is Jagathish M. In 2015, the 27-year-old from Chennai drove 2.2km at 80kph on two wheels in his pimped ride – a Guinness World Record.

THE ICON Arguably the most famous auto-rickshaw is the one that pursues James Bond – played by Roger Moore – through a Delhi bazaar in the 1983 film Octopussy. The yellow three-wheeler is now on display at the London Film Museum.

The first thing to check if your tuk-tuk engine plays up: are the spark plugs still working?


Enjoy the view, but watch the road: perilous drops lie in wait for the Rickshaw Run racers

advise the race organisers. The stated aim of the Rickshaw Run is for participants to meet locals away from the tourist centres, taste the country’s food beyond hotel buffets, and grapple with problems they couldn’t even imagine existing before setting off on the journey; in other words, it offers experience and adventure without a safety net. But what about preparation? No need for it. After 18 races around India and Sri Lanka, the Adventurists took things to another level last July with the first Rickshaw Run in the Himalayas. Participants cover 1,000km between Shimla – in the north Indian state of Himachal Pradesh – and Leh, in Jammu and Kashmir, in just a week. This takes them from an altitude of 2,276m above sea level, right up to 5,328m, then back down to 3,500m, on bendy, rocky roads with no crash barriers and a sheer drop. It’s ambitious to attempt such a journey in a brightly painted 7hp vehicle. Or, as the locals put it: “‘You’re crazy!’ At least one person shouted that at us,” Alby of the Bums of Anarchy team wrote in his blog. On several occasions, he considered hurling the rickshaw off a cliff and

giving up (altitude sickness, exhaustion, and buttock cramp after sitting at the wheel of the stuttering tuk-tuk for 12 hours a day being just a few of the reasons). In one instance, he and his co-­driver Don were almost driven over the edge by an overtaking bus; in Spiti Valley they were forced to push their vehicle through kneehigh melted glacier water, and several times they slept in tents in freezing temperatures. Why do they do it to themselves? That’s easy for Alby to answer: the picture-postcard vistas around every bend; the vast, untouched terrain; the white Himalayan giants; the warmhearted interaction with local residents, and the camaraderie between the participants. If another team’s engine conks out, you’re there to help, and headache tablets are passed around after a boozy night at a ramshackle bar. Last but not least, at the Ladakh Residency hotel after crossing the finish line, you really appreciate the comfort of a soft bed. To register for the Rickshaw Run, go to The organisers recommend that any potential participants do the Indian or Sri Lankan race before attempting the Himalayas




ACTION SPORTS THRILLS IN DUBAI When you think of Dubai, world-class hotels and shopping spring to mind. But if you like your holidays more adrenalin-fuelled, it’s also got you covered


n November 2018, BMX supremo Kriss Kyle dropped from a helicopter onto the helipad of the Burj Al Arab hotel, 210m above the ground. Kyle is just one of many extreme-sports lovers to drop into Dubai lately, as the city is rapidly developing a reputation as a major destination for adrenalin junkies. Perhaps the biggest draw is skydiving. If you think Dubai looks impressive from the ground, wait until you see it from the sky – while free-falling over the stunning man-made archipelago of the Palm with a parachute strapped to your back. Year-round sunshine ensures every day offers perfect skydiving weather. Whether you’re a novice or a pro, the instructors at world-renowned Skydive Dubai will guide you through your jump experience. If you prefer your thrills firmly on the ground, the vast,

epic Arabian Desert is open for adventure. Turn its sprawling, magnificent sand dunes into your own personal playground on a dune buggy, quad bike or dirt bike; surf down them on a sandboard, or go dunebashing in a 4X4. For a tamer experience, take a desert safari complete with dinner after sunset at a Bedouin-style camp, coupled with an evening of unparalleled stargazing. After the desert, head to the sea for an altogether different adventure. Kite Beach is appropriately named – this flat stretch of pristine white sand can boast the perfect winds for fantastic kiteboarding. If you’re looking for propulsion with a few more revs, a jet-ski is a thrilling way to take in the dazzling Dubai skyline from the sea. And, if your taste in thrills is a little wilder still, there’s the Flyboard – a one-person water-


Skydiving is one of Dubai’s most popular extreme sports – the weather is perfect all year round

Take to the desert behind the wheel of a dune buggy

jet-powered hoverboard that can propel you out of the ocean and 9m into the air. But the craziest thrill has to be the new XDubai Slingshot. Exactly as the name suggests, you’re loaded into a literal human catapult 4m above the ground, pulled back 40m, then launched more than 120m, reaching a speed of 100kph in 0.5 seconds and experiencing 4 g of force. The one thing that won’t get your adrenalin racing is the cost of your holiday. Kriss Kyle may have dropped onto the seven-star Burj Al Arab, but he stayed at the budget-friendly Zabeel House Mini, right in the middle of vibrant Old Dubai. The only thing it’s lacking is a helipad. Offering experiences for funseekers of all kinds, Dubai is the perfect holiday destination. Book your trip today for an incredible adventure;

The high-velocity Slingshot fires you 120m at nearly 100kph



BIG HITTER A wooden frame, a tyre, a couple of baseball bats and a bit of pent-up aggression – that’s all you need to engage in this punishing form of functional training

Fury road: that motorbike tyre doesn’t know what it’s in for



n late 2014, copywriter Michel Schreier decided he’d had enough of what he called ‘phrase-making’ and released his frustration by whacking a tyre. But this wasn’t a random act of aggression: the German had developed a redefined form of functional training – exercise that hones the body for everyday life. Schreier’s invention, the Scapegoat, comprises a 35kg ashtimber frame with a motorbike tyre wedged into it. The circular shape and elasticity make it perfect to bash away at with a baseball bat, without damaging your joints. “I wanted to create a ‘scapegoat’ for stressed people to take their frustration out on,” Schreier says of the initial idea. Since then, the 44-year-old boxer and CrossFit enthusiast has taken the training system back to where it belongs – the gym – developing an extensive catalogue of exercises. In addition to the central core training you get from whacking the tyre, you can use the frame to do dips, the tyre to perform twists, and the baseball bats for stretches. Schreier says there are 9,837 different exercises you can do: “It’s universal in its uses, as a scapegoat should be.”



This gadget provides nutritional knowledge from a single breath

Only the size of an inhaler, but as helpful as a dietician, Lumen tracks your metabolism when you exhale, and delivers tailor-made eating plans. The device raised 3,500 per cent of its funding goal on Indiegogo, where it’s now available to pre-order. SMART BREATH Lumen analyses the gases in your breath and tells you if you’re burning carbohydrates or fat.

“I created a ‘scapegoat’ for stressed people to take out their frustration on”


Michel Schreier, Scapegoat

EAT EFFICIENTLY The app doesn’t only show what’s going on with your metabolism. It gives specific dietary advice depending on whether you want to maintain or lose weight, or work out more effectively.




Söderström stays warm with smart use of functional clothing layers

The adidas Terrex Climaheat Down Jacket has Climaheat technology to eliminate cold spots, and seals at the cuffs and collar to trap warm air inside and help prevent heat loss

Wear the right gear “As a mountain bike rider, I’m constantly on the search for altitude and descents. We have a saying in Sweden: ‘There’s never bad weather if you have the right clothes.’ Choose a base layer, a mid layer and a lightweight jacket. I’m currently riding in the Terrex Climaheat jacket, and I’m very impressed with how it breathes and manages moisture. If you overheat and have to carry it with you, it’s no problem as the jacket only weighs 400g.”


Professional mountain biker and MTB slopestyle champion Martin Söderström doesn’t let winter get in the way of his training


ountain biking isn’t a sport that’s usually associated with cold weather. For Swedish MTB athlete Martin Söderström, however, riding in rain and freezing temperatures is part of his daily routine. Here, the 28-year-old shares his best cold-weather training tactics and tells us about his personal rituals when hitting winter trails… Warm up “It’s harder to ride in slippery conditions, but the big challenge is to stay warm. The body performs more effectively when it’s warmed up; it’s also better equipped to take a crash or two. If you carry lightweight equipment, you can start with layers and then take them off as you heat up.”

Embrace the challenge “When it’s cold and dark, the biggest challenge is the mental effort of leaving a warm house. But as soon as you get out and get warm, you never regret it. During a photoshoot last winter, we had to ride on the frozen lakes around Stockholm. The tricky part was staying warm during the long breaks. That’s when you need clothing that releases the moisture, but traps in the heat.” Focus on your performance “I’ve realised that my training during the winter is a lot more focused. With the preparations that go into every session, I’m going to make every second that I’m on the bike count.”


GOOD VIBRATIONS Human hearing pales in comparison with that of dogs and bats. But our ears do have one edge over the others: they’re compatible with cool earbuds and headphones


Clockwise from top right: RHA TrueConnect,; JAYBIRD Tarah Pro,; SENNHEISER Momentum True Wireless,; KYGO E7/900,; EARIN M–2,


Your mother warned you never to stick things in your ears – but she hadn’t tried this range of wireless earbuds and neckbuds (so-called because they’re connected by a cord that hangs around your neck)


GO LARGE When buying full-size wireless headphones, there are two styles: on-ear (the cushion sits against your ear) and overear (enclosed cups for richer sound and added noise isolation). Wrap your head in a pair of these… Clockwise from top left: URBANEARS Plattan 2,; BEATS Solo3 Wireless,; URBANISTA New York Moon Walk,; JBL E65BTNC,




Think of these as a second skin. Your outer coat and trousers must not only provide protection from the harshest elements, but also remain comfortable and breathable – ie, not become an unbearable sauna DAKINE Brentwood jacket and Westside pants,




Suiting up for the slopes is like baking a cake: the secret is in the layers. Here’s what you need to maintain the perfect temperature on piste THE RED BULLETIN



We’re all not cut from the same cloth – and neither should your cold-weather garments be. Pick smart fabrics to ensure optimal comfort and maximum movement ROXY Snow Piercer leggings,; STANCE Wind Range socks,; BURTON Talent Scout snowboard,




See it


Turntable trickery, MTB mayhem, skateboarding savvy, and the rigours of rallying – just some of this month’s highlights


Red Bull TV is a global digital entertainment destination featuring programming that is beyond the ordinary and is available any time, anywhere. Go online at, download the app, or connect via your Smart TV. To find out more, visit


27 January   LIVE 

RED BULL MUSIC 3STYLE WORLD FINAL Since 2010, the Red Bull Music 3Style World DJ Championships have brought the best in DJ culture to the masses. And for its ninth year, the competition promises to bigger and better. DJs across the globe have had their five-minute performance videos judged by previous champions, gone head-to-head at the National Finals, and now the winners – plus a few select wildcard entrants – will all face off at the World Final in Taipei, Taiwan. Last year, the crown was taken by Italy’s DJ Damianito – who will triumph this time around?


January / February

Red Bull Music 3Style always draws a big crowd of music lovers



DJ Doberman rocks the house at the National Final in South Korea in 2017

Hear handpicked music and interviews with influential artists. This month’s pick is…


February   LIVE 


This extreme urban downhill mountain-bike race celebrates its 15th anniversary with more tight turns, long staircases and big jumps on the streets of Valparaíso, Chile. Catch all the action live on Red Bull TV.




to 27 January   LIVE 


The World Rally Championship is back, kicking off the 2019 season in Monaco. Watch the world’s top rally drivers tackle these treacherous roads and the most celebrated stage in WRC history: the infamous Col de Turini.

to 3 February   LIVE 


The elite of skateboarding and BMX will descend on Tallinn, Estonia, for the 19th edition of this legendary contest. See the athletes throw down their heaviest lines on a new course in front of a crowd of thousands.


January  ON AIR 

Over the past few years, Vivian Host has shared the airwaves with the likes of Björk, Erykah Badu, Robyn, Lil Wayne, Charlotte Gainsbourg and cult filmmaker Werner Herzog. In her daily show (weekdays, from 5PM GMT), live from Red Bull Radio’s NYC studios, the DJ, broadcaster and music journalist delivers the best new music, in-depth artist interviews, news and events coverage, and the unique stories shaping our culture.




Do it


January / February



The wacky contest that pits engineless racers against one another in a downhill time trial returns to Alexandra Palace this summer. If you’ve always dreamt of achieving gravity-powered glory at the helm of the Millennium Falcon or a velociraptor, too late – it’s been done. But you still have time to brainstorm another (frankly more aerodynamically effective) vehicle before the end of February. Entries must be in by March 1 – get your application form now. Alexandra Palace, London;


Ahoy, me hearties! Wait, it’s not International Talk Like a Pirate Day until September – except on The Golden Hinde. On the reconstruction of Sir Francis Drake’s famous galleon, you can not only curse like a scurvy seadog every Thursday to Saturday, but drink, dress and loot like one in an immersive cocktail experience. The Golden Hinde, London;


Jan to 9 Feb War of the Worlds There have been a number of adaptations of HG Wells’ seminal alien invasion story, but none has stirred the cultural narrative more than the Orson Welles-narrated 1938 US radio drama that reportedly spread nationwide panic about a real invasion. Today, the extent of that media-hyped hysteria is hotly disputed, and this play by Rhum & Clay examines our current obsession with ‘fake news’ through a fresh take on Wells’ story. New Diorama Theatre, London;


to 23 February Craft Beer Rising As the Bavarian beer halls of the winter festivals call last orders, it’s time to restore some connoisseurship to the pastime of ale drinking. That’s exactly what you’ll find here at the UK’s largest craft beer festival, with 155 breweries serving their finest froth, plus street dining and live music. The Old Truman Brewery, London;



January Pirates of the Hidden Spirit

February Black Coffee Nkosinathi Innocent Maphumulo, aka Black Coffee, has grown in stature since first making his mark on the electronic music scene at the Red Bull Music Academy in 2004; the South African has five albums to his name, and in 2015 he was named Breakthrough DJ of the Year at the DJ Awards. If you’ve yet to catch him at his summer residency at Hï Ibiza (formerly superclub Space), here’s your chance to see the mixmaster brew up his hottest cup of deep-house sounds. O2 Academy Brixton, London;





The Red Bulletin is published in seven countries. This is the cover of February’s Austrian edition, featuring Olympic snowboarding ace Anna Gasser. For more stories beyond the ordinary, go to:

The Red Bulletin UK. ABC certified distribution 152,770 (Jan-June 2018)


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THE RED BULLETIN USA, ISSN 2308-586X Editor-in-Chief Peter Flax Deputy Editor Nora O’Donnell Copy Chief David Caplan Director of Publishing Cheryl Angelheart Country Project Management Melissa Thompson Advertising Sales Todd Peters, Dave Szych, Tanya Foster,


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Red Bull Air Race pilot Kirby Chambliss uses hot-air balloons for training practice in the skies above his home in Phoenix, Arizona. The flying ace steers his plane between them, just as he would when negotiating an Air Gate – only these ‘pylons’ are manned and rising.

The next issue of THE RED BULLETIN is out on February 12 98  



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THE ACTIVE LIFESTYLE MAGAZINE The next issue is out on Tuesday 12th February with London Evening Standard. Also available across the UK at airports, gyms, hotels, universities and selected retail stores. Read more at



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The Red Bulletin February 2019 - UK  

The Red Bulletin February 2019 - UK