What makes a perfect storm? RBSC head judge, Duncan Coombs, reveals all

Duncan Coombs has years of experience of being the head judge for both the Freestyle and Wave PWA World Tours. His years of experience have gained him the utmost respect from all of the pros and he’s now been given the formidable challenge of being the Red Bull Storm Chase’s head judge too. We caught up the man in charge to find out what makes the perfect storm and what he feels could be the biggest challenges the RBSC will face.

PWA: If you could choose, where is the one location that you would most like to see the Red Bull Storm Chase take place?

DC: “For me the location I would most like to see happen is Tasmania, Australia.”

PWA: What is your reason for wanting to have the RBSC in that particular location? Do you think this location could be the most difficult one?

DC: “The reason I would like to see this location happen is because the surf can be huge. After seeing some footage from our local helperJohn Potts down there I was fully amped to see the best guys down there. Six metre swells seem common down there. There are difficulties with running a competition at such a distant location.. but nothing big enough to stop Red Bull Storm Chase putting on a decent show.”

PWA: With the storm force winds, do you think that the sailors will still be able to perform their biggest moves, or do you think it’s possible that everyone just goes into survival mode?

DC: “For sure at the peak of the storm we may see sailors struggling to be in control. Jumping when the wind is over 55 knots will definitely separate the men from the boys.Control is on the edge, but I am sure we'll witness higher jumping than ever before.”

PWA: Once on location, what do you foresee being the most difficult factor?

DC: “I don't think there will be one specific difficult factor. The whole contest will be very challenging to direct. Heavy rain will be a problem for judging and filming. Launching watercrafts for rescue could prove difficult as well.”

PWA: What will the competition format be? Similar as the PWA or different due to the extreme conditions? are you planning on judging jumps also or only surfing?

DC: “The format for the RBSC will be different to PWA format. We'll be running more like an expression session looking for the most radical wave attack. One big hit will score more than a longer wave ride. In the jumping format we'll look for maximum height and pushing the limits rather than perfect control on landings.”

PWA: Have you ever windsurfed in conditions like you are searching for,  for the RBSC? If so, how did you find it and where did you sail?

DC: “I have windsurfed in cold low pressure storms in winds exceeding 50 knotts. Both in Ireland and Tiree. Honestly not my favourite conditions... It's very hard to control landings as you are travelling sideways in the air more than forward. Rain and spray hurt when they hit your face. It took me a very long time to walk back to the van with my equipment. I think sailors could need assistance just rigging and launching.”

PWA: Thanks Duncan. We can’t wait to see the results when the RBSC re-starts later this year.