10 summer extremesAugust 11, 2008
A big shout of thanks goes out to Guy Mostyn, of The Telegraph.co.uk , who is the author of this article and who shows that you don’t just have to sit at home this summer watching the Olympics.
There was a time when a British summer weekend meant digging around in the cupboard and fishing out an old croquet set. Summer sports have moved on since then, thank goodness, and now include athletics on stilts and rapids-riding, as seen in our guide to this summer’s extreme crazes.
|Deep-water rock-climbing is not for the feint-hearted|
Take one surfboard, add a 45hp engine and hey presto – one extremely anxious mother. The PowerSki jetboard is said to be “the most radical water toy ever invented” and capable of cornering almost horizontally. The rider uses a 4ft handle to power and steer through the water at up to speeds of 40mph – provided he can stay on it. This jetboard has taken off in the US and is sure to arrive here soon. Price? Around £3,500 (www.powerski.com).
2. STAND-UP PADDLE SURFING
The latest craze to emerge from America, stand-up paddle surfing is an ancient Polynesian sport that became popular in the 1960s and has been reborn yet again. It’s like surfing, but you use a paddle to move about, meaning you can spot the waves early and get to them more quickly. Find out more at www.standuppaddlesurf.co.uk. A lesson with Errant Surf School in Newquay costs £40 (0870 334 17 11; www.errantsurfschool.com).
Now here’s a toy to impress your pals. Powerbocking, named after inventor Alexander Boeck, involves revolutionary stilts that enable you to jump six feet high, take nine-feet strides, run up to 20mph and perform all kinds of acrobatic tricks. There are also junior versions. Learn the basics from the bocking community site at www.poweriserpages.com. A pair of quality jumping stilts costs £240 from www.7leagueslondon.co.uk; 01628 667 383.
As if abseiling off a sheer vertical cliff wasn’t nerve-racking enough, someone has come up with an even scarier way of descending a rock face – facing forwards. Instruction costs from £45 per person (08450 178177; www.naelimits.co.uk).
|If you dare: true-grit mountain-biking|
5. TRUE-GRIT MOUNTAIN-BIKING
Take your mountain-biking to a new extreme with tailor-made tuition from some of Britain’s top riders. Whether you’re looking for more confidence on those descents, help improving your technique or want to learn how to jump, the guys at Dirt School will show you how. Classes are run in Scotland and Wales and cost from £55. For details, call Chris Ball on 07736 321795 or see www.dirtschool.co.uk.
With the recent release of the film Man on Wire, slacklining is back in fashion as the extremist’s ultimate challenge – walking along a tightrope that isn’t kept taut. In the film, Frenchman Philippe Petit is seen performing his 1974 walk between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre in New York. But if you want to try, it’s probably best to enrol on a safe treetop course first. Tree Top Adventure, Snowdonia (01690 710914; www.ttadventure.co.uk), charges £20 for adults, £15 for children.
7. DEEP-WATER ROCK-CLIMBING
This is rock-climbing at its most extreme, but also at its purest. There are no ropes, just you, some rubber shoes and the deep sea beneath you. The idea is that you can climb free of cumbersome equipment and if you fall, the sea is there to catch you. It can be risky, so it’s essential not to go too high. Find out more at www.dwsworld.com. For rock-climbing on Britain’s coastal cliffs, contact the British Mountaineering Council: 0161 445 6111; www.thebmc.co.uk.
8. WHITE-WATER RAFTING
Heaps of fun and undemanding in terms of skill, white-water rafting is the ideal day out for maximum thrill and minimum effort. With so many people in the boat, it’s also a great activity to share with friends and family. Simply jump on board, follow the instructions of your captain and hold on over those rapids. Contact Canolfan Tryweryn, the National Whitewater Centre, in Bala, North Wales. Prices from £60 (01678 521083; www.ukrafting.co.uk).
This is not the kind of thing you want to do immediately after breakfast, or after eating anything for that matter. Zorbing is the extreme sport of rolling down a hill in a giant ball. The hydro version incorporates a washing-machine cycle, so that you get drenched on the way down. “It’s guaranteed to cleanse the body and clear the mind,” says a spokesman. Sounds questionable, but it is fun.
The hydro ride costs £35 per person (01929 426595; www.zorbsouth.co.uk).
Also known as free-running, Parkour is a kind of urban gymnastics mixed with the mental discipline and control of Zen Buddhism. Practitioners vault, jump and generally outsmart gravity using street architecture such as park railings, walls and open spaces. There’s much more to it than jumping off roof tops. Join the community and express your individuality at www.urbanfreeflow.com. Private one-to-one tuition is available in London on request. Email email@example.com for details.