Kiteworld issue 80 kitesurfing magazine cover with Nick Jacobsen and Jesse Richman

Inside the mind of a serial thriller

Jesse toe in Rick Dobrowski Kiteworld Magazine 2016 Issue #81

Death – a weird topic for a kitesurfing article? Perhaps not. Neuroscientist and kitesurfer Dr. Jason Gallate meets kitesurfing thrill seekers, Nick Jacobsen and Jesse Richman, to ask the questions we’ve all been dying to know the answers to…

This feature runs over 16 pages and is filled with extraordinary insights into the attitudes of two of kitesurfing’s most extreme and evocative characters, analysed by a specialist in the field of neurological behaviour, who has a huge kink for kiteboarding. Here are two passages lifted from the feature that we thought you’d enjoy:

An excerpt from Kiteworld issue #80’s main feature

#01 – Words Jason Gallate

Throughout both interviews I was trying to get right to the nub, to lift the scab off, and get to the fundamental source of all these behaviours. For me, whenever I take a quick glimpse over the edge, I see Death staring back at me. Far perhaps from conventional wisdom, I believe that thinking about death enriches my life in almost every way.

There is an old existential therapy phrase that says, ‘Although the physical reality of death destroys us, the idea of death can set us free.’.

This freedom can work for anyone in two primary ways:

Firstly, when one thinks about death it trivialises the trivial. Inner turmoils like ‘do I look good in these new sunglasses’, or ‘did anyone see that last jump I did’, drop away into an ocean of forgotten vanities and temporary concerns. I am temporarily freed from pettiness. This also allows me to appreciate the truly valuable, or to value what I appreciate.

Secondly, when I realise that life is finite – that I only have a certain amount of years left, be it one or 40 – it helps me to design my life according to my values; to make choices that I take full responsibility for – that maximise happiness or flourishing. I can choose to do what is important: family, relationships, meaning, compassion, adventure, sports and fun are all important to me (and work facilitates these).

I put these two concepts to both Nick and Jesse in numerous ways throughout the interviews and their answers were rich and illuminating.

Firstly, I asked what they thought of death?




(Jason pulls out the cover of Kiteworld issue #79 that had Jesse’s huge wave at Jaws on it, and asked him ‘What happens if you get hit by that lip?’)

Kiteworld Issue #79 2016

Words: Jesse Richman
Erm, it’s a wild experience! The other day I got lit up at Jaws and it was by far and away the worst beating I have had from a wave. I was held down for two waves, so I didn’t get another breath before the next wave hit me. I was down for quite a long time and it is baffling, just baffling [how hard the wave hits you and the disorientation that it creates].

On that particular day I had broken my kite before I got out there – so I sat on the boat for about three hours watching my friends kite. Before we left one of my buddies came up to me and said, “Do you want me to tow you into a wave?”. So I’m obviously like, “Yes, why not?” He towed me in and it’s funny ‘cause I had been sitting on this boat in complete comfort for three hours, hanging out, heckling people, watching – and had put all hope or thought of riding Jaws out of my head. Eight seconds later he is towing me into this wave and it just came out of nowhere… and huge! I’m was towing in from such a weird angle, from such a weird spot, but had to go because there was no pulling back. Bottom turning on the wave I was just thinking, ‘You get one shot, make this wave count!’. I went way way too deep, tried to pull into a barrel and it just went BOOM!

It was lights out… I don’t even know… no chance or time to enjoy it, to see it or just experience it. It happened so fast and then I’m getting pounded and like, ‘Wow, here we go.’. For me, there are times in smaller waves where it’s gnarly and I think about hitting the reef and I’ll get a little bit nervous. At Jaws it’s just baffling how intense it is. How is it even possible to feel that much energy? You are so small in such a big washing machine.

It feels like you’re getting hit by a thousand bats at the same time while holding your breath. The energy moves in every direction, it’s such a weird feeling. But the funniest thing to me was that I was probably held down for 45 seconds and the jet-ski pulls up and he drops me back over to the boat. I was probably gone for like three minutes total, and I’m thinking ‘how different life was three minutes ago to how it is now?!’ [laughs] Holy shit, like wow…


Issue #80 is out now. Find out what else is in the issue that comes with the tenth free annual Kiteworld Travel Guide supplement by clicking here.

Kiteworld 80 and Travel Guide 2016


We also interviewed Jesse for The Kite Show about his experiences at Jaws – check that out in this video:

For Kiteworld Website. With advertising


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