Extreme sports seem to get more extreme as the months go by. So what about combining surfing, tightrope walking and base-jumping? Sounds too far fetched? Well step forward the Flying Frenchies: base jumpers, clowns, climbers, acrobats, musicians and speed riders all rolled into one.
The group’s latest antics involve hurtling along a zip line on a surfboard at 75 kph before dismounting to base jump into the ravine 600m below.
Act of respect
Many of us will look at the resultant film and wonder why on earth anyone would think this is a good idea, but for Anicet Leone, who came up with the concept two years ago in conversation with the French tightrope walker Tancrède Melet, a member of the group who died in January 2016 after a hot-air balloon stunt went wrong, it was a nod to his former friend.
Leone explained the group had to continue in his pal’s honour: ‘He was a very determined person, very efficient and an important driving force. It’s something that gave me a lot of strength throughout the project. I felt it inside of me.’
The play’s the thing
The Flying Frenchies set up their zip wire on one side of a ravine in the Vercors mountain range and slid across to the other – on a surf board.
At times, two would surf on the board, another tackled the high wire dressed as a duck while another yet performed a headstand on the board despite the high speed. And to cap things off, three of them even performed as a band from the zip wires, including a full drum kit.
Leone said: ‘It was so crazy to surf like that, after two years of dreaming about it. It was insane to be on a board at that speed, at a height of 600m.’
As for the group’s wider aims, he added: ‘We want to be open to the unknown and to the wish to discover the world, as much outside than inside of us. We are clowns, gentle fools and we throw ourselves in the empty spaces, surfing the air to provoke and to be seen, representing the atypical dreamers’ minority.’
To see a video of the Frenchies in action click here.