60 Seconds With Jeremy Saukel

posted by / News / September 4, 2008

Hurricane season is in full force, and with the strong winds and unpredictable weather, surfers chasing each storm’s potential are literally throwing caution to the wind. So, there are bound to be a few close calls here and there. We caught up with Jeremy Saukel to get the lowdown on chasing hurricanes and a particularly sketchy freeway mishap.

SURFING: How has it been going now that hurricane season is really underway?

Jeremy Saukel: It’s been alright, actually it’s been a little bit more hyped than it’s actually been. There have been good waves; but nothing like what the hype was. This last one that everyone really wigged out about, there wasn’t much in the gulf.

What’s the biggest challenge when following hurricanes?

Just trying to be at the right spot at the right time, there’s so much coastline, depending on winds and tides, it’s just basically a crapshoot, hit or miss. It’s those few hours that it’s going to turn on at a certain break. You gotta go into it not really expecting to score.

We heard about a close call while on the road, what happened?

I’ve been helping Red Bull this past couple of months doing some tow-at stuff and they had a huge event this past weekend at New Smyrna Beach, like Brad Gerlach’s NSL Game format with eight shops, and I took the skis up there and was permanent water coach for all the teams. I was coming home and there was some pretty gnarly construction going on I-95, and right where the construction started you had to go on a new road. I hit a pretty big bump were they had just paved the road up onto the new road and I hit it doing like 55 or 60 and it snapped the whole axle off the trailer. There were cinder blocks on each side so there was no emergency lane where I could pull over. At first I thought it was just a tire, but I looked back and there were no wheels anymore.

So what was going through your head when this was all happening?

I’m just tripping because I couldn’t pull over, I was gassing it and my car was getting slower and slower, and I’m thinking ‘if I have to stop right here I’m gonna die.’ Because somebody is gonna rear end me for sure. The ski is fishtailing, it’s smoking, I don’t know what’s dragging. But one of the wheels got caught somehow, so that’s smoking and it’s not moving, it’s just locked. I burned a whole through the tire and the tire burned a whole through the bottom of one of the skis, the thing’s ruined. I’m giving my car everything I got and I’m going five miles an hour dragging just straight metal. The skis are moving around back there, the only reason they were on there was because of the winch, so they’re on straight metal and they’re almost falling off the trailer sideways. Meanwhile I’m full Ace Ventura, leaning out the window, waiving people around me, watching cars fly up on me because it’s nothing but a ball of smoke, so they really can’t see what’s going on.

How did you wind up getting to safety?

Finally a mile down the road there’s another exit and I was fortunate to make it to there and pull over. So I’m by myself, my cell phone is dead and I don’t have a charger, and because of the angle, with no wheels, I couldn’t get the trailer off the hitch so I could drive and go find help. I sat on the side of the road for an hour and randomly two of the judges from the contest just happened to drive by and look down on the off ramp and see me, because you can’t miss the red bull skis. They turned around and came back.I have AAA, but they won’t tow trailers so we sat around for five hours wondering what to do, and finally we found some red neck guys that had a {{{flat bed}}} and we picked up the skis and put them on the flat bed trailer and just left my trailer on the side of the road. Someone’s going to use it for scrap metal, but the thing was ruined.

So no damage to you?

No, nothing with me. The crazy thing was that a semi came up on me so fast that he had to lock it up and he almost jack knifed his whole rig. I was really lucky because had anybody been next to me when this happened I would have hit them. I looked like a drunk guy; I was swerving back and forth going wall to wall. How I didn’t hit the wall I don’t know, but I screwed up my car and my trailer hitch is all screwed up.

After this close call, what’s next on the horizon for you?

We have like five storms coming back to back. We’re trying to figure this one out, you have to be on it and ready to go the night before because these things are so unpredictable. There could be islands in Georgia that haven’t broken in years that could be really good, and who knows.

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