Category: General Extreme Sports

Snorkeling With Sharks In Holbox

Separated from mainland Mexico by a shallow lagoon, Holbox Island (pronounced Hole-bosh) is located just northwest of Cancun.  The lagoon is home to thousands of flamingos, pelicans, and many other exotic birds.  The island is 26 miles long and a mile wide and has about 21 miles of beaches.  Even the streets are made of white sand.  There are few cars, most people get around on scooters or golf carts.  Holbox is a quiet, peaceful island with no nightclubs, or high rise hotels.  It is off the beaten path enough to remain unspoiled by mass tourism.  For those who remember when the streets of Isla Mujeres were still unpaved, Holbox will feel like going back in time.

The population of the island is about 1600.  The original inhabitants were Pirates who settled there and married Mayans.  There are people who claim to be descendants of the 7 founding families.  The industry is mainly fishing, though recently it became apparent that tourists were interested in swimming with the big fish that migrate through every year.  To cater to these tourists, cute hotels have opened, as well as funky sand floored bars and restaurants.

From May through October whale sharks converge just off the coast of the island to feed in the plankton rich waters.  The area is considered to be the number one place in the world to swim with the largest fish in existence.  The warm surface temperatures and cold undercurrent provide perfect conditions for seasonal blooms of plankton which draw in the whale sharks, as well as manta rays, sea turtles, and dolphins.  It’s a one to two hour boat ride to get to the whale sharks, so wear a hat and some kind of sun protection.  Stay hydrated by drinking a lot of water because the trip lasts about five or six hours and you’ll be in and out of the water a lot.

About The Whale Shark

The Whale Shark is not a whale at all, though it’s as long as a school bus and doesn’t have a mouthful of pointy teeth.  The largest confirmed sighting was 41.5 ft.  One of the easiest ways to differentiate between whales and sharks is that sharks like all fish, move their tails from side to side to propel themselves, whales and dolphins move their tails up and down.  Whale sharks are not aggressive at all, they feed on plankton near the surface and just slowly move through the water opening their mouths to hoover up the food.  They give birth to live young, and you’ll see the babies close to their mothers.  They have a lifespan of about 70 years.

Yum Balam Ecological Reserve

The Yum Balam ecological reserve was established in 1994 and protects 154,000 hectares of land and sea that includes the Lagoon Conil, the mangroves and Holbox island.  Yum Balam is Mayan and translates to “Lord Jaguar”.  60,000 hectares of the reserve are mainland jungle and are home to jaguar, puma, ocelot, margay, and jaguarundi, all of which are endangered.  Yum Balam started off as a rescue project to capture jungle cats that ventured too close to civilization, and relocate them to less populated areas.  It evolved to protect all the flora and fauna of the area it encompasses.

Elizabeth E is a travel writer currently exploring the Atlantic coast of Mexico. In addition to journalism she leads a team of online Spanish tutors.

Paragliding In Valle De Bravo Mexico

Valle de Bravo is a popular destination for weekend getaways from the capital.  For this reason, it has everything a discerning tourist is looking for, from chic hotels and restaurants, to spas and golf courses.  Oh, and of course, paragliding.

About a 2 hour drive from Mexico City, Valle is located on the shore of Lake Avándaro.  The lake is popular for boating, sailing wakeboarding, kayaking, and stand up paddleboarding.  Reminiscent of the Upper Italian Lakes, and having one of the most beautiful colonial centers in Mexico, the area has certainly earned its reputation as a pueblo mágico.  The town offers an exciting but safe nightlife with many bars and clubs to choose from.  Because of the elevation, 6000 feet, it stays relatively cool year round with daytime highs between 67 and 75F.

Above It All

The town itself is lovely, but to get a really great view of the town, the mountains, and the huge lake, you need to see if from above.  Vale is surrounded by hills where visitors can enjoy hiking, mountain biking, rappelling, climbing, and paragliding or hang gliding.  The weather conditions here are perfect for paragliding, and the surroundings are breathtaking.

Valle is famous the world over for paragliding because its landscape and atmospheric conditions make it ideal for the sport.  Because of this it is the site of international competitions nearly every year.  In 2009,  Valle hosted the World Championship, receiving competitors from over 40 countries.  There are over a dozen schools and tandem operations in town.  Paragliding is done here year round, so locals have become accustomed to having angelitos land in their gardens when the wind shifts direction.  Monte Alto, also known as “the kite hill” is a preferred take-off spot for paragliding.

If you’re tempted to give it a try, a 30 minute tandem ride with an instructor will cost about $120.  Don’t forget your camera, and a jacket, it gets chilly up there.  Even for a tandem glide you will get some basic instruction so that you understand how it all works and how to behave safely.  The instructor will handle the flying while the student just relaxes and enjoys the flight.  If you enjoy it, you can then move on to a full course where you’ll learn how to fly the glider yourself.

You can rent everything you need to complete your course here, the wing, radio, and harness.  Experienced paragliders travel with their own equipment, but if they encounter any problems, they can get spares or service on their gear.

Adventure sport travelers are not generally wealthy, so it’s nice that the area caters not just to the elite Mexican tourists, but also to the budget travelers.  Food and lodging are available for every budget.

Flight Of The Monarchs

If you’re looking for something interesting to do that doesn’t challenge your fear of heights, you can hike with a guide to see the millions of Monarch butterflies.  To see them take flight in the bright sunlight is spectacular.  These migrating Monarchs return to the same place they were born to lay their eggs.  Every day around noon the butterflies fly down from the mountains to a river.  Seeing these swarming orange and black butterflies is pure magic, especially when some of them land on you.

L. Evans leads a team of Online Spanish teachers connecting native speakers from Mexico down to Tierra del Fuego with professionals working on learning the language. She loves travel and extreme sports.

Top 5 New Extreme Sports Not For The Level-Headed

Some people say extreme sports are dangerous – and they’re probably right – but hey, if you’re going to get injured you might as well do it with style! The top three causes of head injuries last year were cycling, football and basketball. So let’s not pretend that regular sports are safer than extreme ones – it’s just that most folks can’t handle the rush! Here’s my top five ways to spice up your sports life for 2013:

5) BASE Jumping

No, the capitalisation isn’t to indicate the extreme awesomeness of this activity – it stands for Buildings, Antennae, Spans, Earth. Spans tends to mean bridges and earth tends to mean cliffs, but then the beauty of BASE jumping is that it’s basically just launching yourself from anywhere possible with a parachute ready to go. Although BASE jumping dates back to 1978 and has been doing the rounds quite a lot recently thanks to viral Internet clips, it’s still making the “New” list because every jump is a new possibility. If BASE jumping’s getting stale then you are getting stale my friend.

4) Ostrich Racing

Again you might be questioning what this is doing on a “New” list. That is, if you’re from South Africa or Jacksonville, Florida, USA – the two homes of ostrich racing. For the rest of us this extreme sport is worth attending just for the show with sometimes five or even ten ostriches on the go at a time this is a seriously strange, potentially suicidal spectacle. For the pro there’s the chance to ride an ostrich, although if you’re not into all that biting, flapping and kicking head injury potential then there are carts available for racing chariot-style too!

3) Fly boarding

Now, I’m not really a water sports guy, so this is coming in at number three, but I’ve no doubt it’ll be topping out most people’s wish lists this year. Fly boarding is basically half way between parasailing and – every kid’s dream – a jetpack. Using a massively powerful water pump and some pretty sophisticated engineering the fly board will see you rocketing around lakes and coastlines at the back of a power boat. Already popular in Australia and the US, fly boarding’s on its way to the UK too.

2) Bird Man Suits

The bird man suit has a bunch of names: the flying squirrel suit, wing-suit, and bat-suit. From the names I can guess you know where I’m going… It’s a specially designed suit that lets you glide through the air at controlled speeds – adding a little extra to your usual skydiving experience. This is probably the closest we’re going to get to flying until someone invents an anti-gravity engine and sticks it to a fly board. For bonus points combine this with BASE jumping and you’ve got some serious death-defying thrills on your hands.

1) Pillow Fighting

Now, I started this list talking about head injuries and now I’m closing it with pillow fighting? Something of an anti-climax, you say? Not even slightly! The Pillow Fight League of Toronto, Canada is the newest thing in combat sports and incorporates all sorts of wrestling and martial arts moves into your standard pillow-fight set-up and these do some serious damage! Now, currently the League is women only and has never travelled to the UK – but I’m tipping this number one as I can feel 2013’s going to be the year the Brits take extreme pillow fighting to the next level!

Hopefully this rundown has got you in the mood to branch out from your standard sports routine and try something new. It might seem dangerous at first, but most of these extreme sports take place under professional supervision. So if you are unlucky enough to get injured – there’s always compensation!

Emily Starr is a blogger who fears even jumping from a swing, never mind off a bridge. However, if you are an extreme adrenaline junky and thrill seeker, then it is advisable that you check out research how to make an injury claim, just in case you suffer a back or head injury.

Stand Up Paddle Boarding — Where Did it Come From?

It seems like stand up paddle boarding, or SUP, is all the rage today. Beaches-goers throughout the United States, Australia and elsewhere are spotting people catching waves on boards with — what’s that? — a paddle in hand! A mere 5 or 10 years ago this would have been a very rare sight. So where did stand up paddle boarding come from and how did it explode in popularity so quickly? Let’s take a look.

It All Starts in Hawaii…

As you may have guessed, stand up paddle boarding got its in Hawaii, where it’s also known by its traditional name: Ku Hoe He’e Nalu, which translates to “to stand, to paddle, to surf, a wave.” Back in the ’50s, the area saw a huge inflow of American tourists after the war who were excited to learn surfing, which was then a pretty new sport. A lot of these tourists started hiring the Waikiki Beach Boys of the area to teach them surfing and take pictures to send home to their friends.

It wasn’t long before the beach boys discovered how hard it was to take action shots of the tourists surfing. Cameras back then were really large and not even close to waterproof. They were also very expensive so the beach boys wanted a way to get closer without dropping their cameras into the ocean.

It wasn’t long before a few clever beach boys got the idea to use an outrigger canoe oar to paddle their longboards to get these great shots. This method allowed them to get close to the surfers without the risk of dropping their cameras.
This paddle surfing was used for some time to take close-up pictures of surfers as longboards became smaller and waterproof cameras hit the market. It took a long time before people actually caught on that paddle surfing was actually fun, too.

A Decade Later…

John Zabotocky, a famous beach boy of the ’60s, used his board and a paddle to take pictures but he eventually started using paddle surfing as his preferred form of surfing for sport. He is today considered the Father of Stand Up Paddle Surfing and is still active. In 2010, he even participated in the Battle of the Paddle.

The SUP Explosion

So, how did the sport explode in popularity? Back in 2000, a long summer with very few good waves caused a number of water sports celebrities and athletes like Dave Kalama, Bruce De Soto and Laird Hamilton to switch to paddle surfing so they could still enjoy the water. After finding out how fun paddle surfing really is, they starting bringing SUP to a huge audience. Laird Hamilton, now considered the most popular stand up paddle boarding celebrity, even started producing his own line of SUP boards.

Stand Up Paddle Boarding Today

While SUP took decades to finally catch on, it seems like it’s here to stay. There are now dozens of huge competitions and events taking place every year around the world. The beauty of stand up paddle boarding is it can be enjoyed by nearly anyone, including kids, the elderly and the inexperienced. Unlike surfing, the sport also requires no waves so it’s open to more people. If you haven’t tried paddle surfing, give it a try! Rent a board and paddle and hit local lakes, rivers or beaches to see how enjoyable this sport really is.

Walk on Water was founded to share water sports like kayaking and SUP with the whole world. Based in Hollywood, Florida, Walk on Water offers inflatable stand up paddle boards, inflatable kayaks, paddles and accessories, as well as rentals.

8 Of The Most Insane Sports In The World Where Remaining Injury-Free Is An Achievement

When you picture tennis players hitting the ball back and forward on a hot summer’s day nothing could seem more relaxing. If you wanted to turn the heat up a bit you could go with basketball. It’s a non-contact sport, but you still have huge guys trying to chase you down and get in your face. These don’t come close to certain sports that people partake in. Crazy people that risk their life every time they walk out the house. Here are 8 of the craziest sports ever.

Street Luging

The aim of the game is to simply make your way down to the bottom of the hill. It sounds easy enough until you realize that you’re speeding down the hill with no brakes and one wrong move could see you crash into something at break-neck speeds. The worst thing is you are lying completely on your back on what is nothing more than an oversized skateboard.

Heli-Skiing

Some parts of a mountain are so inaccessible they are impossible to reach without a helicopter. Instead of realizing they should stay away they decided it would be a great idea to drop people out of helicopters with their skis attached to their feet. Sometimes people don’t even make it out of the helicopter because it crashes before it reaches the drop-off zone.

Big Wave Surfing

If you have any fear of the water you can turn into a shaking mess just watching someone surf a big wave on video. I wonder what these guys actually feel like knowing the most powerful force in the world is right behind them. One slip and there is no escape from death. Surfing is cool, but taking on 50ft waves is a completely different kettle of fish.

Cheerleading

When you go to a ball game I bet you don’t expect the extreme stuff to be on the side of the pitch. Cheerleading is the sport with the leading cause of injuries for women with up to 20,000 injuries per year. Some of these include seriously nasty stuff like broken bones and spinal injuries. It’s a bit like extreme gymnastics without serious gymnastic training. What could possibly go wrong?

Bull Riding

Can you think of any possible reason why you would ever ride a bull? If you ever have the pleasure of seeing one close up you know how powerful and dangerous they look. Jumping on their back as they’re going crazy sounds a bit insane. But still, it you don’t mind being flung 10ft in the air and smashing into the ground or being trampled by a 1800 pound beast, go ahead.

Motorcycle Racing

Motorcycling is the daddy of dangerous sports. Mostly because you are racing around at hundreds of miles per hour and one slip will cause sudden death. Even the Isle of Man TT race, which has being going strong for over a hundred years, has had 220 deaths in its history. It takes a lot of guts to step onto a two-wheeled machine when there is nothing to protect you.

BASE jumping

There is a reason why this used to be thought of as attempted suicide. Not happy with jumping out of airplanes people decided to crank it up until the dial couldn’t go any higher. They now jump off buildings and mountains with mere seconds to open their chute before they splat into the ground at a hundred miles per hour. There are still around 15 people killed each year.

Cave Diving

Scuba diving is a pretty dangerous sport. Anything that involves diving underwater and relying on equipment to provide you with oxygen would be. But now you have to explore uncharted waters which are freezing cold. Sometimes the visibility is so low you can’t even see in front of you. They now call a successful cave dive one in which you reach the surface at the end.

Marcus Jhonson is a renowned blogger and a great fan of hockey. He suggests to take your dryland hockey training at hockeyot.com.

5 of the Craziest Bicycle Single Tracks Ever Attempted

So, you consider yourself an extreme cyclist? All over the world there are individuals who feel the same way, no matter what country you are in, the common thread between these cyclists is that they are always seeking that next great thrill.

Cycling is an amazing sport because it presents the rider with the unique opportunity to combine a top notch workout with the freedom of experiencing the great outdoors, and all of its many challenges, with great speed. There are trails all over the planet that have been created by determined individuals, with high endurance and a lack of fear, and for those willing to take a few risks and explore this amazing world, there are endless possibilities for adventure.

Here we take a look at 5 of the most dangerous and risky one tracks in the world. Use caution and great consideration of the consequences when picking your next adventure. These are risky trails for even the most experienced riders.

Cliffs of Moher- Emerald Isle

The Cliffs of Moher, located on Emerald Isle are home to one of the single most dangerous and deadly single track on the entire planet. The trail is at points four inches wide and is quite literally on the side of the cliffs. At many points, there is nothing except your precision standing between you and a 600+ drop onto jagged rocks and into the ocean. Because of its elevation and location on the water, this ride is generally accompanied by misty and windy conditions adding to its difficulty. There are also points during the ride where there is a need to jump gaps in the track, this is a feat that would make even the most experienced rider nervous.

The Worlds Most Dangerous Road

“The World’s Most Dangerous Road” is how this world famous road is known throughout the world; the locals in Peru know it as “the Death Road.” This particular ride takes you down from an elevation of 15,400 feet, over mountains and through jungles, past llamas and a drug checkpoint and down to 3,600 where you are greeted by a nice pasta buffet lunch. The ride is grueling and though it is down hill, a good portion of the middle of the ride takes place in the world famous death road where many people have died and the smallest slip up or miss calculation could cost you your life.

The road was cut into the side of the mountain, and even though it is deadly, there is still a fair amount of local traffic on it daily, making this trek increasingly dangerous. Due to the roads location and elevation it is not unlikely that it may be raining when you are making your descent, adding to the danger.

Devil’s Tooth (Muela del Diablo)

This is a 2 hour almost completely downhill single track ride meant for only the most expert riders. The trail for the most part follows along the edge of a mountain and covers the side of the cliffs in a single track that you follow while making your descent down the mountain. Though some of the track is on a ridge, there is a large portion that covers the rocky mountain side and challenges even the most experienced rider.

The Secret Single Track

The Secret Single Track is located in Bolivia and has some of the most insane downhill mountain biking single trail on the planet. The trail covers just about every kind of terrain imaginable; you will go over mountains, down the sides of them and end up in jungles and covered in mud. This trail is for experienced riders with extremely high endurance and the desire to challenge themselves. If you are willing to push past your limits and feel the burn while experiencing some of the most extraordinary scenery on the planet, than this extreme trail just might be for you.

The Mega Avalanche

The Mega Avalanche is an extreme downhill mountain biking race held annually in the Swiss Alps. There are portions of the race that are single track, but the most difficult aspect of this ride is that you are riding downhill with not just a small group of friends, which can be dangerous enough, you are riding with sometimes up to 2000 other individuals, increasing the risk of error and injury due to mistakes. During the ride you will descend a total of 2600 miles and do most of that riding in the snow. The ride is challenging, but fun, and filled with amazing views.

Hillary Rose is a biking enthusiast. She writes for a number of blogs about cycling and interior design. When not writing or biking she works for Racor Storage Solutions to help find new ways to store your bike.

Parascending over Land; What to Consider

Terrestrial parasailing, also called parascending and parakiting, is a recreational activity where individuals fly over land using a large kite-like parasail wing that is attached to a land vehicle. In addition to parasailing for recreation, several terrestrial parasailing competitions exist throughout Europe, where competitors fly on a parasail wing as high as possible, then attempt to land within designated target areas. Anyone can learn to parasail, but before getting started, it is essential to understand the risks and requirements involved, and to know what to look for in a parasailing school.

Risks

Like all activities, parasailing has some inherent risks, many of which you can minimise by attending a quality school and educating yourself thoroughly. According to the Parasail Safety Council, 3 to 5 million people take part in parasailing every year, and the majority of reported injuries are minor, requiring no hospitalisation. Only 72 parasailing-related deaths have occurred since 1982. Possible risks include sprains and bruises, and, on the extreme end, possible strangulation, broken bones, and death.

Safety

Safety should be the first concern of any parasailer. Before selecting a company to parasail with, you should verify that it is properly licensed and has experienced staff. Inquire about the company’s safety record; if it doesn’t have one, or refuses to offer one, consider going with a different company. Once you select a parasailing school, attend a safety course if it offers one, or ask for one of the staff members to explain the company’s safety rules, including hand gestures you can use from the parasail wing to communicate with the person driving the vehicle.

Avoid parasailing on days when bad weather is expected, such as rain, fog, and strong winds. Poor weather is the most common cause of parasailing injuries, and can result in your towline snapping and rough landings, amongst other issues, increasing your odds of being hurt.

Equipment

Parasailing is an activity that requires a significant investment in equipment. Because this recreational activity involves flying hundreds of feet in the air, it is important to purchase quality equipment. Basic parasailing supplies include a helmet, quick release, harness, and life jacket, which is necessary even if you’re parasailing over land; if you have to release your towline in an emergency, you could end up floating over a nearby body of water. Other equipment includes wind socks and meters, and extra bars if you plan to have one or more passengers on your parasail wing.

Schools

Attending a parasailing school is essential for properly educating yourself on all aspects of the activity, including ways to minimise the risks, and is essential if you want to become a parasailing instructor. Unfortunately, not all schools are created equal. Instructors are the most important part of any parasailing school; you should research their parasailing history, including their number of logged flights and how many hours they have spent in the air. In addition, it is important to research the school’s reputation among established parasailers. If a school has a bad reputation, no matter how qualified its instructors, you should consider finding a different education centre. Attending – and ultimately completing – a quality education course, in addition to understanding the risks involved in the sport, will give you the skills you need to spend a lifetime parasailing.

Citations:

Article given to us by X1 Sports Insurance

Batten down the hatches for the Extreme Sailing Series

The sport of sailing is considered by many to be a peaceful, civilised affair; essentially a gentle bob whilst enjoying a spot of lunch. Well try and sip your Sauvignon Blanc whilst competing in the Extreme Sailing Series and you’ll end up with a sticky face and a clear head, which is probably for the best given the adrenaline fuelled, white knuckle experience you’re about to endure.

The Extreme Sailing Series comprises of some of the most experienced and respected skippers racing their state of the art multihulls on some of the world’s most demanding stretches of water. The introduction of stadium sailing puts spectators at the heart of the event like never before. The eight locations which comprise the series are carefully selected to ensure spectators have full view of the event from the shore, where challenging sea conditions await the brave men competing in this high octane series.

The sailors competing are the cream of the group, with 21 Olympians in their number, along with four gold medal winners, seven circumnavigations of the world and over 11 sailing records amongst them. There is also the opportunity for sea fairing members of the public to get in amongst the action, with ‘hot seats’ available on board the vessels for admittedly wealthy laymen to join the four-man crews for a first hand taste of the action.

The high performance machines used in the Extreme Sailing Series are developed purely for speed, and can easily outrun motorboats even in medium wind conditions. The crews use all of their collective experience when battling the demanding courses, and there is certainly no shortage of brute strength on show either, as the four man teams haul their 40 feet speed machines around the compact circuits. As you can imagine, with so many big reputations on the line the sailing is nothing short of frenzied, with spectacular crashes, capsizes and too-close-for-comfort near misses all regular occurrences.

If you like the sounds of the Extreme Sailing Series then there are plenty of locations around the world where you can see some of the world’s best sailors battling against the elements. After three years operating in Europe alone, the Series has recently spread its sails and now hosts regular events in North America as well as the Far East. This year the Series will also be visiting South America for the first time. That’s eight venues in three continents that you’d be mad to miss!

Author: Marine Scene are a team of fanatical sailors and online retailers of leading marine chandlery. Although we like our sailing a little more sedate, we still know what you need to keep you and your boat performing at the very highest level.  

Interesting Extreme Sports

What is it about pushing your limits, pushing the envelope of sports, and pushing yourself to do better in extreme sports? We can say that the appeal of the following extreme sports lie in the extraordinary sense of self-achievement coupled with the rush of adrenaline. Whichever extreme sport you want to engage in, just buckle up and enjoy the ride!

Volcano Boarding

In the case of volcano boarding, the rise is hot, dusty and smoke-filled, just as you would expect from hurtling down an active volcano. It’s a little scary but it’s also crazy enough to be enormously fun, as any extreme sport should be.

This is a relatively new sport but it continues to attract followers because of the high adrenaline fix. Your best bet for volcano boarding is at the Cerro Negro Mountain, an ominous charcoal-black active volcano located in western Nicaragua. You will wear protective suits – the atmosphere can scorch exposed skin within minutes – hop on a plywood-and-Formica board, and then zip down the slope at speeds exceeding 50 miles an hour.

Think of going down to hell on Earth and you get the image of volcano boarding. Let’s hope the gods do not see it fit to make the Cerro Negro explode while you are zipping on it.

Crocodile Bungee Jumping

Bungee jumping in itself is not for the faint of heart. Now, think of what it would be like to jump from a high point with nothing but a length of rope breaking your fall but instead of just water, you may encounter crocodiles lurking beneath it. That’s crocodile bungee jumping for you.

The sport is supposedly popular in Australia where people apparently have plenty of time, not to mention luck, on their hands. Proof of the extreme sport is the viral video featuring a young Australian woman tempting the fates by bungee jumping into the Zambezi River, which just so happens to be one of the world’s most crocodile-infested waters.

Did she survive? Yes, she did but we can surmise with probably the biggest scare of her life.

Train Surfing

One man’s extreme sport is another man’s common mode of transportation. This is train surfing, an activity most common in Indonesia, India and South Africa where men ride on the sides and roof of the moving vehicle to get to their destinations. It is illegal, of course, but you cannot blame people for wanting to go home, crowded train or not.

In Germany, however, train surfing is done for its adrenaline rush. Its creation as an extreme sport is credited to a gang leader from Frankfurt who rode the Intercity Express, the nation’s fastest train, surf-style and who, fortunately, lived to tell the tale. He may have been lucky but not so the thousands of others who died while train surfing.

Extreme Sports Statistics

Taking It to the Max

The term “extreme sport” was coined in the 1980′s. Its precise meaning is somewhat nebulous, but generally speaking extreme sports are dangerous pursuits with a younger-than-average target demographic and a counter-cultural ethos. These activities are thrilling for spectators, and involve extremes of speed and/or height; most are individual pursuits, rather than traditional team-based sports like cricket or baseball. Rafting and paintball are two notable exceptions to this.

The Double-Edged Sword

Extreme sports are dangerous for many reasons. Many devastating (and sometimes fatal) accidents are caused by unpredictable weather and other natural phenomena beyond human control. For example, a seasoned ice climber may fall to his death if a chunk of ice or rock breaks away, ripping him away from the mountain or cliff face. Surfing wipeouts also demonstrate this concept; even when the weather is clement and the ocean’s waves are optimal for surfing, each athlete remains truly at the mercy of the sea. One wave may be perfect, while another is too slow, or too fast, or too high to navigate successfully. Thankfully, most surfing wipeouts don’t injure anyone. The other principle cause of extreme sports injuries is the human fascination with increasingly extreme challenges. Snowboarding halfpipes demonstrate this; a modern 22-foot halfpipe may be eight feet larger than the halfpipes from ten years ago. With the increased excitement and surge of adrenaline comes increased risk of serious injury and death.

Accident Statistics

Obtaining accurate accident statistics for extreme sports is often difficult because the term “extreme sports” lacks a strict definition. However, recent data reveals that over the past five years, for every 1,000 participants, skydiving has claimed 3.3 lives and BASE jumping has taken 44. The figures for hang gliding show 3.8 fatalities for every 1,000 attempts. The most deadly extreme sporting pursuit, however, is mountain climbing; for every 1,000 attempts to scale K2 (located between China and Pakistan), 104 have ended in death.

The Extreme Sports Roster

There is no universally accepted list of extreme sports, although an assortment of sports are almost always labelled as such. Land-based extreme sports include caving, BMX, skateboarding, snowboarding, street luge and outdoor climbing; water-based extreme sports include surfing, parasailing, powerboat racing, SCUBA diving and whitewater kayaking. Airborne extreme sports include hang gliding, bungee jumping, sky diving and ski jumping.

Base Jumping: Living on the Edge

The most notorious and controversial extreme sport is BASE jumping. It’s also one of the most dangerous. BASE jumping involves jumping from a very great height, slowing one’s fall with a parachute or wingsuit. The first BASE jumpers used skydiving equipment, as there was no alternative at the time. Since then, BASE jumpers have developed specialized parachutes and harnesses designed specifically for this pursuit. Typical BASE jumps span 600 metres or fewer, so most jumpers will reach the ground about 15 seconds after deploying their parachute. In contrast, skydivers often enjoy a 3-minute float down.

The Long Arm of the Law

There are two legal requirements that must be satisfied before executing the jump. Jumpers must obtain permission from whoever owns or manages the structure from which the jump will be made; they must also secure the use and clearance of the proposed landing area. Many popular jumping sites use permits to regulate BASE jumping; this is akin to mandatory fishing and hunting licences. Failure to comply with these regulations may result in fines or arrest. Despite this, many BASE jumpers enjoying making “stealth jumps” – surprise jumps made without obtaining the proper legal status.

This article was brought to you by X1 Sports Insurance.