Nick Jacobsen: King of the Air

Published on April 12th, 2017

by Richard Branson, Virgin Group
Many people couldn’t believe their eyes as professional kitesurfer Nick Jacobsen launched himself off the world-famous Burj Al Arab in Dubai – one of the tallest buildings in the world.

Residents and tourists held their breath as Nick sailed down the 1000 foot drop; and cheers of awe and joy rang out when he successfully landed in the water and kited across the gulf.

Nick is known as ‘the daredevil’ among the kitesurfing community. I was thrilled to witness him jump, from 131 feet above sea level, off the roof of Necker’s Great House in 2015. As well as kiting off Necker, he has also previously kited off the top of a crane in South Africa.

But jumping off one of the tallest building in the world is a completely different adventure – you’ve got to ensure you launch from the right spot so the building doesn’t block the wind, and you’ve got to keep the kite moving the whole way down so it can act like a parachute. You can never be 100 per cent sure that things won’t go horribly wrong.

Having been fortunate enough to get to know Nick over the years, I know he wouldn’t attempt something like this unless he had thought through all the eventualities. He might be brave, but he is not a fool.

The day after jumping off Necker, Nick decided to jump off the roof on Moskito Island too, but sensibly chose not to go ahead with it because there was a one per cent chance he wouldn’t be successful. He’s a calculated risk-taker, who knows when to say no.

As I know all too well, if you are attempting things nobody has ever done before, there are always risks – which is why we marvel at people who push the limits in this way.

It was a great privilege to see Nick jump off Necker, however pulling off this jump makes him – in my eyes at least – one of the greatest adventurers of all time. As a keen kitesurfer myself, I am blown away by Nick’s courage and style. I was so incredibly proud to see him sporting the Virgin logo on his kite.

Hats off to the Burj for allowing him to do it. And what an experience for Nick! Having stood on top of the nearby Burj Khalifa, I can only imagine the adrenaline he experienced while completing the jump. Nick Jacobsen really is the King of the Air.

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