While many people thought outside the box throughout the pandemic’s restrictions, few adventurers took it to the extent of world champion kayaker Dane Jackson, who obtained after it each with an impromptu journey to Africa to journey “one of craziest waves I’ve ever surfed,” and even browsing an enormous wake behind a pair of 90-foot yachts in Miami’s Biscayne Bay.

When Jackson calls a wave loopy, you must concentrate, given the scale and degree of whitewater that the freakishly proficient paddler has made look straightforward.

The Miami mission introduced the 27-year-old kayaker to Florida to journey the wake of the twin yachts, simulating the right wave for kayaking. “I did it a couple of a years ago with wake boats, but always felt we could go bigger,” Jackson says. “I was just trying to make as sick of a wave as we could to do some tricks. But it was hard to get it perfect; there were a lot of variables.”

With the assistance of sponsor Red Bull and professional wakeboarders Parks Bonifay, Brian Grubb and Bob Soven, Jackson motored out into Biscayne Bay to work his magic. In the top, the right wave fashioned when the yachts had been 45 ft aside, shifting at 11.5 knots in 10-foot waters.

“I’ve never really done anything like this on this big of boats before,” says Bonifay. “Every little variable can change the way the wave is, from speed to how far apart you are.”

Robert Snow/Red Bull Content Pool

Once they dialed within the Big Kahuna, Jackson dropped in. Dropped in that’s, through jet-ski tow.

Jackson towed over wake
Jackson getting towed into the wake.

“It was somehow both hilarious and awesome at the same time,” says Jackson. “I never thought I’d surf a wave behind yachts in Miami. It’s one of those cool ‘what if’ things that I’m stoked we pulled off. Luckily, Parks and Grubb were there to help dial it in. If we could’ve gotten into some deeper water we could have made it even better; we might have to follow up sometime.”

Jackson adopted that up with a fair larger surf outing on Africa’s Zambezi River at flood. There, he hit an enormous wave in the midst of the river’s infamous Rapid No. 9.

“It’s a steep, big rapid and very chaotic at those flows,” he says. “It was one of the biggest, most out-of-control and craziest waves I’ve ever surfed. It was mainly just survival mode out there as it was constantly shifting, greening out and tossing you around. It was pretty insane.”

“Some of the crashes I had on it rivaled impacts from 100-foot drops I’ve done,” he provides. “We only got a few sessions on it but it was truly one of the coolest, wildest and most insane waves I’ve ever surfed.”

As for what’s subsequent as restrictions slowly ease, Jackson is already concocting different feats of derring-do. “It’s tough to say what we’ll be able to pull off this year, but I do want to do some more exploring,” he says, rattling off concepts in California, Norway and Canada. “It just depends on how things are looking. Hopefully, by fall we’ll be able to get back to some of the projects we originally had in mind for 2020.”


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