By Benjamin Furst
A daredevil attempting to slackline across a 31-metre gap between two cliffs was almost washed out to sea when a freak 40-foot wave smashed into her – and the brush with death was caught on camera.
Coralie Girault was out slacklining in Cap Méchant, a beautiful but dangerous stretch of coast on the French island of Réunion in the Indian Ocean, where waves batter the blackened rock lava cliffs.
After hearing about the spot online, the 26-year-old had set-up the 31-metre line between two adjacent cliffs, suspending herself above the turbulent waters below.
Footage shows Coralie balanced precariously in the middle of the line about to stand up when a giant roaring wave crashes into the rock face and engulfs her.
Miraculously she remains hanging onto the slackline and appears unscathed moments later, as her pal captures the lucky escape from the relative safety of the cliff – though she admits had it hit a second later once she stood up, it could have ended in disaster.
Coralie, from Lyon, France, said: “The waves were pretty random and unpredictable at times, which made it a lot more fun than usual.
“I was not expecting what you can see in the video. I was about to stand up, waiting for the waves to get past when, as I started to move, one smashed into the cliffs and hit me head on.
“Thankfully, I managed to get hold of the strap in time as I felt the strength of the wave – I reckon I would have fallen if it had hit me as I was walking on the line, due to its strength.
“We usually only tend to think about our visual cues, and the sensations we get from the strap, but this time we had to think about the sea moving right under our feet. It felt like our surroundings were moving.”
Despite the sudden surprise that came crashing with the frighteningly large wave, Coralie claimed to have never felt under any threat, placing full confidence in her experience and craft.
Coralie said: “I never felt in danger on the line beforehand, or after the wave had hit me. Our slackline was safely installed, and I was also tied up in case I was to fall.
“The video has received mixed reactions: some people were impressed, others laughed out loud but some people also pointed out how dangerous the slackline was.
“I personally don’t think that what we did constituted any kind of danger.”
As well as being a part-time slackliner, Coralie also takes part in competitions and demos. She and a few friends set up the French Trickline Championships.
The island of Réunion is seen by the adrenaline-junky community as an ideal location for slacklining.
As well as boasting a wealth of sandy beaches, where people can practice without hurting themselves, the idyllic destination provides an array of possible environments to try out.
Coralie said: “The island offers beautiful scenery that allows us to install slacklines above lakes, waterfalls, ravines and between cliffs.
“This wide range of locations and the sunny weather make the island a fantastic spot for us.”