It´s official. The Red Bull Storm Chase 2012 is over. The waiting period ended in the end of November. The extreme windsurfing event caught a calm storm season this year and the given 100km/h are not too easy to find. There were several storms passing the selected destinations, but none of them fit to run a mission. None of the three aimed missions could be accomplished so far. The 10 participants and the 5 substitutes for dropouts, who were on stand-by since the 1st of August, have now some weeks off, to prepare again mentally and physically for the first big storm in 2013 and the re-start of the chase. 

We had a chat with Klaas Voget, who participated in the Storm Chase back in 2006 and is now involved in the organization (sports&athletes manager) and as a second judge, to get to know more about the plans.


© Red Bull Storm Chase


C7: The official 4-months waiting period of the Red Bull Storm Chase is over and the chase for storms has not really started yet. How big is your disappointment at the moment, that you were not able to run any missions?

Klaas Voget: Of course I’m disappointed, although we couldn’t really do much about it. We were ready to go at all times, but the right storms just didn’t show up this year. Every promising forecast comes with a lot of work. It’s a shame that all this didn’t get rewarded yet. Everyone is fired up to finally see some action, that I’m sure it would be insane with this fleet of riders in these extreme conditions.

(Editor’s note: The 10 main riders: Victor Fernandez, Boujmaa Guilloul, Ricardo Campello, Philip Köster, Kai Lenny, Marcilio Browne, Julien Taboulet, Dany Bruch, Robby Swift, Thomas Traversa. The substitutes for dropouts: Leon Jamear, Ben Proffitt, Josh Angulo, Alex Mussolini, Kenneth Danielsen)


C7: What´s the plan now. Are you going to continue with the Storm Chase and extend the waiting period?

Klaas Voget: We’re going to continue the Storm Chase in 2013. Details about extension will be released soon…


C7: How is the motivation of the riders, who are still waiting for their first big battle? 

Klaas Voget: The riders are fully motivated. They also would have preferred to get into action, but they are also behind every decision we took during the stand-by period. It’s the off season everyone has the time to commit fully to the Red Bull Storm Chase. With some riders I’m in constant contact anyways, with others I get in contact as soon as a promising depression starts to develop.


Jobst van Paepke and Klaas Voget checking storms – Pic: Flo Gebbert



C7: In the beginning of the Storm Chase everything went really perfectly. The voting for the riders worked well, several storms were spotted and Red Bull got immediately a very big Facebook community. What went wrong that there was not one session on the water, yet? 

Klaas Voget: The storms just didn’t show up. Our forecasters told us that we’re dealing with an extremely stormless year. All the locations on stand by are chosen wisely by our expert panel, as they statistically have very good chances to get at least one big storm during the stand by period. Not even places like Iceland got what we’re looking for, even though statisticly you could run a Storm Chase almost every two weeks there in September and October. One of the few storms this year was Hurricane Sandy. But I think that it was a good decision not to choose this one.

We were a bit frustrated not to be able to chase a storm in Tasmania in the beginning of the stand-by period. The reason was an unpredicted flight strike that started right at the time, when we had to make the call, if we’re going or not – something very unlucky that’s not in our control.



C7: Don´t you think, the wind limit is maybe too high? It seems, as if a wind force above 10 beaufort (100km/h) is very hard to find? 

Klaas Voget: A wind force 10 is high, but this is what the Red Bull Storm Chase is about and what makes this event fascinating. If you have the entire world to look at, it’s not unusual to see a couple of those storms showing up.



© Red Bull Storm Chase


C7: You decided to abandon the event at Cape Hatteras because the storm Sandy was too destructive. Isn’t a storm above 100km/h always destructive, if there is civilization nearby? Are you still convinced of the 7 spots you and the team have chosen? 

Klaas Voget: In Europe we have storms above 100km/h every year. Sometimes they cause a bit of damage, some tiles get taken off houses, some trees are falling, but usually not much happens, unless it’s fooding a large area. Most places we have on stand by are used to get those winds. I’ve been part of the Red Bull Storm Chase in 2006 and they measured 156km/h at the airport of Norderney (German island in the North Sea) just before we got to the beach. We saw a bus stop was blown over, but not much more happened. It’s a bit different with tropical systems, that you can have in the US and Japan with much higher windspeeds. We knew that it would be more tricky at those two places, but we still had them on the list as they can offer some extreme storm sailing without much damage as well. Hurricane Sandy developed to be one of the most violent Hurricanes in the recent history and as soon as the news came up that people died from this so called “Frankenstorm”, we pulled out of this option. In the last couple weeks with the time passing without much happening, we had a close look at different locations around the globe once more and we were still convinced that the right places were on standby.



C7: Many people, have asked us the same thing. What are the reasons, that not one spot is located in the Mediterranean Sea or North Sea?

Klaas Voget: We’ve had two places on the list for the Mediterranean Sea, but in the end the coast that gets the open ocean swells with those type of storms, like Galicia, Ireland and the Brittany made the cut for Europe, as we can expect the more extreme conditions. In order to be well prepared at the place we’re heading in such a short notice, we had to limit the amount of stand by locations at some stage, especially for Europe, as this is a worldwide project. We didn’t consider to go to places like Klitmøller and Sylt, where we have PWA events, also we didn’t want to go to the same places, that were featured in the 2006 Storm Chase.


Klaas Voget – Pic: Flo Gebbert

C7: What would be your dream destination to run a first mission?

Klaas Voget: For me the dream would be to start with Galicia or the Brittany, as the Euro Locations are in the storm season now. Iceland is too cold and days are too short in the winter months. Also in Ireland we’re dealing with pretty short days in the beginning of the year.


C7: How are the chances that we will see see a mission in 2012?

Klaas Voget: We’re having a break now, so the chances are Zero for 2012. We need a certain amount of daylight and also don’t want to bring the guys in danger and send them out below five degrees. Statistically the months of January, February and March are really good for storms in Europe, so let’s just hope 2013 has more to offer and we get to see what we’ve all been waiting for…


 C7: We wish the riders and team good luck to catch a storm in early 2013!

© 2012