To walk on water on the Sea of Galilee the way Jesus did some 2,000 years ago according to one of the best-known stories in the New Testament was long the dream of Polish kite surfer Maciek Kozierski – and he has now accomplished the feat. My pictures from this project saying more than 1000 words and we did it without any tricks or smoke and mirrors!
“To ‘walk on water‘ is a well-known saying, said Poland’s kite surfing pioneer Maciek Kozierski. As one of the world’s best kite surfers, he long had a vision of himself walking on water. For Kozierski it was a matter of honor that he accomplish the feat without tricks or any technical assistance.
Together with a team that included six-time Israeli wakeboard champion Lior Eliyahu and photographers Predrag Vuckovic from Serbia and Joerg Mitter from Austria he spent four days on the Sea of Galilee on their project codenamed simply “Miracle”.
We spent four full days on the water directly in front of the world-famous church at Capernaum. The plan: Kozierski would use his kite to acclerate to maximum speed, then step off the board and release the kite – and then walk on water. The difficulty: when the wind was strong the waves were too high and when the surface was calm there was not enough wind. The 26-year-old athlete from Warsaw crashed hard into the water at high speed more than 50 times and had to repeat the whole attempt time and time again.
The released kite was once damaged after flying halfway across the sea. On another attempt he missed the photographers in the water and on boats. On the last day he finally accomplished the feat and got the perfect “miracle“ shot: Maciek Kozierski walking on water and in the background is the historic church.
“And we did it without any tricks or smoke and mirrors,” he said proudly. For the skeptics there is even a “Making of…” available as a video.
STEP IT OUT
“I knew I could walk on water“, says Maciek, fresh from experimental project Red Bull Walking on Water, on the Sea of Galilee in Israel. „I trained for two weeks. I’d kitesurf along, then kick my board away, release the kite and try to run! Then I had to get my kite back again, get to the shore, untangle the lines, strap in and start again. “I did that about 20 times a day, for four days. A lot of time and effort, but I was sure it was possible. I had to get a lot of speed to allow me to take more than one step, and finding the optimum speed was a case of try, try and try again. In the end I just got a feel for it. “If the conditions were really choppy with a gusty wind it was impossible, but when the water was flatter there often wasn’t enough wind to build the speed, so I waited for the perfect conditions. Then it was about getting the right pace, being in the right place for the photographer and releasing the kite at the right moment. It was pretty tough. “I managed two or three steps, proving that when the speed’s right you can walk on water. Lots of people thought it was a trick, but it wasn’t. That was our goal, to achieve it without any fakery. I’m stoked with the results.”
WORK IT OUT
“Walking on water may seem miraculous”, says Professor Thomas Schrefl, who teaches and researches at the University of Applied Sciences in St Pölten, Austria. “But lookin at other, more familiar, phenomena helps us understand how it’s possible. Think about skimming stones on water: given the weight of a stone, you’d think it would sink, but high speed and high spin can make it skip on the water’s surface several times.
“High velocity creates a lift force, while spin stabilises the motion of the stone. When the stone hits the surface, it is tilted by an angle, α. The angle of the velocity vector, ν, with respect to the surface of the water is β. The forces acting on the stone are the lift force, L, the drag force, D, and the weight, mg.
“Lift force is given by the formula 0.5*CL*ρ*AW*ν², where CL is the lift coefficient, ρ is the density of water, AW is the area of the stone immersed in water, and ν is the stone’s velocity. The total mass of the body is m and the acceleration due to gravity is g. Water streams at the surface at an angle of (α+ β); therefore CL = sin(α+ β).
“In order to maximise the lift we can increase α or ν. When running on water Kozerski does both. He hits the water with his foot tilted with a velocity of around 30mph. For a successful ’bounce’ we need to accelerate the body upwards; therefore the sum of all forces needs a component that points up.
“If Fγ is the vertical component of the total force, we can use the condition Fγ > 0 to work out the minimum velocity required for running on water. The velocity has to be higher than the square root of mg / [0.5*(α+ β)*ρ*AW]. And if we put in some numbers m = 70kg, g = 10m/s², (α+ β) = 0.35 radians (20 degrees), ρ = 1000kg/m³, and AW = 0.8 x 0.28m x 0.11m (0.8 because only 80 percent of the bottom of the foot hits the water), we get a minimum required velocity of 12.7m/s, or 28.5mph.”