Andy Lewis (performer)
Lewis at The Gibbon World Cup 2010
October 7, 1986 |
Santa Rosa, California, U.S.
|Known for||Slacklining, BASE jumping, Super Bowl Halftime 2012|
Andy Lewis (born October 7, 1986 in Santa Rosa, California), who goes by the stage name Sketchy Andy (Lewis), is a professional stunt coordinator and internationally recognized Slackliner. "Sketchy" has successfully completed a boggling list of accomplishments as a highliner and trickliner, but also is an aspiring BASE jumper and rock climber. He is hands down most highly noted for his slackline creativity and style along with being credited for his many innovations in the world of tricklining.
Originally from Marin, California, he graduated valedictorian of his class of 2008 from Humboldt State University. He learned to slackline in 2004, and since 2008 has been winning or placing on the podium at all of the biggest slackline competitions in the world, helping to establish modern day competitive tricklining.
His tricklining accomplishments include OverALL World Championship titles of 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and a world cup win in 2012. He also holds multiple world records within the sport including, a slackline surfing record with Guinness, the Longest Highline (2010 100+m)), highest highline walked (2014 (holding)) as well as the more prestigious record of Longest Highline walked without a form of safety protection (2011(holding)); otherwise referred to in the sport as "Free Solo." Lewis created a title for the mindset referred to as FreeSoLoco; writing about it in his music online @ Soundcloud.com/Slacklife. He also is a key figure in a strange fringe activity called "netting," developing what he deemed a "space net" that is gaining international acclaim.
Slackline accomplishments and exploits
Lewis played a major role in developing the sport of competitive tricklining, becoming the first ever slackline world champion in 2008 in Fort William, Scotland. He repeated the feat in 2009, and won the Gibbon World Cup Series the following two years. (The First Annual Gibbon World Cup Series was the most successful slackline contest in the history of slackline to date; 16 of the best slackline competitors came from all over the world.) Andy is also known for his many "first across" (F/A's) on highlines, and having set several distance records on highlines. He was the first to successfully rig and walk a 55m+ highline (2008, California – “Ruin’s Highline”), the first to walk a 60m+ highline (2009, France – “King Line”), and rigged and walked the world’s first 100m+ highline ever (2010, Moab – “Afrodisiac”). Andy is also renowned for his "free solo" exploits, having walked more than 100 different highlines without a safety leash. He holds the current record for longest free solo highline, with a 55m crossing at 60m high.
Andy was included in Peter Mortimer's Reel Rock 2011 film, featured on MTV, and on other international TV networks. He is credited with taking slacklining from an obscure hobby of a small portion of rock-climbers to the world media forefront on Sunday, February 5, 2012 when he performed on a trickline while Madonna sang behind him during the halftime show of the NFL Super Bowl. Saturday Night Live and Conan O'Brien's Late Night TV show parodied Andy's halftime performance in the week following the Super Bowl.
Andy was a wild child, always on school roofs, hiding from teachers, and causing ruckus, and inspiring others to do the same. He habitually participated in school and after school sports including soccer, baseball, skateboarding, roller blading, rock climbing, pole vaulting, and many more activities including Boy Scouting. At 17, Lewis had his first real meeting with extreme sports, ripping his face off and knocking himself unconscious in a mountain board crash in December 2003. He made off with two badly sprained ankles, multiple down to the bone lacerations on his left hand and knees, totaling about 25% skin loss, and resulting in reparative surgeries. He was released from the hospital after 7 hours of clean up, testing for concussions, and stitching his eyebrow back on.
After the accident, Lewis realized that he had almost thrown his life away before living it fully. This accident opened Andy's eyes to the insignificances of lifes strifes in general and inspired him to live life to its fullest. This was the beginning of his slacklife philosophy—living in the moment.
2004 (Summer) – Andy went on a 30 day road trip from SF to Canada and back again. After the trip, Andy was introduced to slacklining by his friend George Upton. The next day he bought his first carabiner and 65 ft of 1" tubular nylon webbing. Andy started rigging slacklines everyday. His mother started saying "you're living a slacker's life," which soon embodied Andy's philosophy, slacklife.
2005 – Andy started to learn tricks on the line, and he started calling it "trickline." He had a “pocket line” that he brought everywhere, 50 ft of 9/16's tubular nylon webbing. Andy started doing jumps and spins, as well as rigging higher lines. He started training more than ever. Though he says he did not train intentionally, he was always just wanting to have fun. Soon his focus turned to landing the first ever backflip on a slackline.
2006 - Andy was working at Reed Elementary school and Angel Island day camp trying to make enough money to just be able to slackline. The first slackline backflip was landed in August and uploaded to YouTube. The video was featured on "slackline.com," but has since been deleted by YouTube. Andy was also introduced to longlines in 2006 by Damian Cooksey. A 265' line shut him down, but he loved it and kept pushing. He started to work on more rigging techniques. Andy first started to Longline and Highline frequently. His first highline was walked free solo, simply because he didn't think he needed a leash on the 20 ft high line.
2007 - The Squirrel Backflip video received over 1,000,000 clicks. Andy formed Catalystic productions with Shaun Cordes and started filming and editing movies. Their involvement launched a stylistic change to the trickline world, creating a large community of "slackers" at their local university (HSU). These videos also popularized the internet as a community meeting point for learning how to slackline. By 2008, they had already released multiple shorts online, even backed with some of Andy's personal songs he'd written about slackline. This was his first year to the Lost Arrow Spire Highline, also the first time he saw Yosemite. Slackers Club at school started but was not introduced. Started writing slackline songs such as "Slacklife" and "Slack On".
2008 - Andy became the first world champion at UK Slack Masters; at Fort Williams, Scotland. He made another national TV appearance on BBC. This was the first year he saw Moab, UT. He started highlining a lot in 2008, with upwards of 40 highlines throughout the year, including "Ruin's Highline" (55m). He was shown in a Nike Commercial during the Olympics. Shaun and Andy used Catalystic Productions as a foundation for beginning the first year of The Humboldt Classic (THC). Also first year of Moab highline festivals. Shaun Cordes and Lewis released their film "slacklife," after their road trip to Joshua tree, and it brought record breaking attention to the sport; becoming a milestone video for many slackers.
2009- Andy became obsessed with longer highlines, but more accurately; highlines in general. Andy placed 1st at Vibram Natural Games, 1st at Gibbon Outdoor, hosted the 2nd annual THC, and was the first to send the "King Line", the first ever 60m highline. He walked a total of 52 highlines in 2009, 22 were free solo, including a free solo full man of the Lost Arrow Spire highline. Andy started to practice BASE in November and by 2012 had nearly 50 jumps.
2010- Andy became the 1st Gibbon World Cup Winner ever, winning 2/3 of the world cups, and placing 2nd in the last round. In Sept, he rigged and walked the first 100m+ highline: Afrodisiac Highline (103.5m). THis highline is special because it was the first ever 100m highline, and it was also higher than it was long. ANdy and Shaun Hosted the 3rd annual THC. Andy Repeated his free solo of Lost Arrow Spire, but this year he did it naked. He had walked 74 highlines this year and he did his first BASEline exits and sent the world record 40m Free solo.
2011- Lewis walked 100 different highlines within 2011. 64 of these lines he walked with out a safety. The average length of his lines were 80 ft, and the average height was 125 ft. In November he broke his own previous record of a 40m long highline freesolo, by successfully walking the Great Bongzilla highline free solo, measuring in at 180 ft long, and 200 ft high. Andy also won the Slackline World Cup Series for his second time winning 1/3 and placing 2nd in 2/3. For his 25th birthday Andy successfully BASE jumped the Titan; America's tallest free standing tower. This year was also the first year that Andy missed THC. Unfortunately, the last round of the World Cup conflicted with The Humboldt Classic's scheduled dates. Andy also had his first parachuting cliff strike, filmed for his first festival touring movie.
2012- Madonna invited Andy on stage during the Super Bowl Half Time Show that became the highest viewed live show in the history of American television. Slacklining as a sport was thrown into the mainstream. He was offered a high paid position on Madonna's World Tour, but turned it down for the "Slacklife." He appeared in News around the world, was parodied on Saturday Night Live, Conan, Bill Maher, and Slacklining even popped up on shows like the Doctors, Americas Got Talent, and even cameoed on The Office.
Three weeks after the Super Bowl, Andy disappeared for over a month finding salvation in the southern islands off the coast of Thailand; where he spent his time climbing, slacklining, and BASE jumping. Returning to the US in April 2012, Andy and a group of 3 friends (Hayley Ashburn, Scott Rogers, and Ryan Matson) rigged the highest free standing tower highlines in the world, 800 feet in the air between Echo and Cottontail towers in the Fisher Towers. Andy was the first one to walk the 225 ft, and 280 ft long lines nicknamed "The Sucubus (225)" and "Leviathan (280)". These lines we covered in his article titled "Balancing Act," in Rock and Ice Magazine (DEC 2012). These walks, as well as his BASE jumps off Echo and Cottontail towers, made Andy the first person to successfully Slackline, climb, and BASE jump from all five of the main Fisher Towers: Ancient Art, The Titan, The King Fisher, Echo, and Cottontail.
In June 2012, Andy won a world Cup for the 5th year in a row, but as injured himself for the first time in his career mid July; IN competition, still winning his round. With a severely distorted ankle, he still competed in the next round of the world cup 50 days later; coming in 5th. In August, Andy and his crew (Hayley and Scott) established a couple of BASElines in training for Andy and Scott's trip to Malaysia. (Video Documenting of the Trip can be seen on youtube.com/Mr.Slackline) On their trip, Andy and Scott established the first bridge BASE line, and Andy even managed to figure out the first human powered slackline to BASE jump, the first / highest building BASEline, and the world's highest rope swing building BASE jump. In the 9 days that Andy had to jump, he completed 141 successful BASE jumps. 140 packed, and 1 roll over (unpacked). In October, Andy was rumored to have celebrated his 26th Birthday by BASE jumping off El Capitan and Half Dome; though no proof in either direction has emerged.
At the end of 2012, Andy invested in Slackline.com and SlacklineBrothers.com to help develop the slackline community. He now owns both websites as long as being the manufacturer and only retailer of the Slackline Brothers Pulley System. It is a popular progress capturing pulley system for slacklines 20–200 ft long with a large grassroots following. On December 24, 2012 Andy proposed and became engaged to Hayley Ann Ashburn.
2013- In January 2013, Lewis and Hayley worked to get Slackline Brothers back off the ground. By February, the company was back on track to start selling pulleys again and it was time for another trip. The crew set off to Brazil under the title the Moab Monkeys. Lewis, Ashburn, Scott Rogers, and Brian Mosbaugh made up the team and filmed, edited, and produced an online series, and the footage even ended up getting coverage on Good Morning America. The team had rigged Brazil's longest highline (which Andy onsighted), Brazil's longest highest urban line (which Andy onsighted), and also cause a bit of a stir BASE jumping in the heart of Rio. By the time Andy and his monkeys got back, they were already ready to establish more towers around moab. "Breakfast at Guano's" and "Weigh Wyrd" were established in April after Brazil.
2013- JUNE-DEC In July, Andy Lewis and 11 friends built their own 'midair campsite' in Moab, Utah. The slacklines were 55m, 60m and 70m long and weighed 300 lbs. The system was connected on the ground and hauled into air in 24 hours. The crew took turns highlining, base-jumping and falling on a rope swing. Just after this Andy helped film a TV show with Taig Kris (xgames gold medalist), then helped film a commercial with GoPro and then was off to burning man. At burning man Andy built a slackline park for everyone to try. Shortly after that Lewis headed a slackline event at Mandalay bay hotel in Vegas. He was allowed to the rooftop to rig 4 highlines; 2 of which would be the world record urban highline (longest.) Andy walked the 85m line breaking the record in practice and then walked the 105m long line, 63 floors above vegas, LIVE, breaking the world, but better yet, his own personal record. He also snuck a BASE jump off the top of Mandalay Bay in complete secrecy. Shortly after that Andy flew to California to help HOST what was the 6th annual THC festival in Arcata, CA. The Humboldt classic is a continuously growing group of talented slackers who meet up in northern California to share stories, ideas, gear, and fun! Andy then continued to establish multiple tower highlines and was BASE jumping a lot. It was about at this time that Andy's BASE jumping started to show him the darker side of the sport. Luke Chappel, one of Andy's closest jumping friends perished in an accident just a few hours outside of Moab, on one of the safest cliffs. Luke's parachute got caught on his camera, and he impacted with nothing out June 20, 2013.
Shortly after, Mario Richard, one of Andy's closer jumping buddies, idol and role model, died wing suiting with Steph Davis in Italy, August 18, 2013; both Moab Locals. Then Beau, a new friend of Andy's broke both his heels in a landing accident, and unfortunately, or fortunately, for Ammon McKneely, Andy was on scene of Ammon's BASE jumping accident, breaking off the lower part of his left leg. Andy, accompanied by a handful of his friends, headed Ammons rescue; Including Daniel Moore, Scott Rogers, and Brent Cain. After 5 hours, Ammon was in the hospital and ended up saving his terribly broken leg. Just after that, Andy's best friend, apprentice, baseline buddy, Daniel Moore, late pitched off of Moab's closest cliff, and died November 23, 2013, 15 years to the day of Dan Osman's Death. After this string of death, Andy was forced to face mixed emotions, fear, and the truth of mortality. Nothing weighed more on Andy than Daniel's death.
2014- Andy started out 2014 with a lot of tree netting. He spent the first two days of 2014 at his friend George Uptons house weaving a massive net in his tree. Shortly after, Andy and Hayley drove back to Moab together from California to film with 60 minutes in Moab. What they came to film was the BASEline at Meri's Gash that was still rigged since DAniels Death. Daniel had been practicing BASElining to go around the world with Andy, and for Andy's 1st jump back in Moab in 2014 after the year of carnage. Andy summoned up the strength to get out on the line Daniel had rigged, walked it without a leash, and BASE jump off the 450' high line. It was Andy's best baseline ever, and it brought him to tears in the landing area. After 60 minutes was done shooting, Andy was back to netting, and started constructing more nets around Moab. Weaving was an old meditation Andy found incredibly useful for reflection and by the end of January Andy was climbing, highlining, and BASE jumping again. Argon Tower, Castleton, and a handful of other towers were all on Andy's radar before he was to leave for Lodi to skydive and Europe for Trade show season.
Andy left Moab to train flying his body from planes. He made 150 jumps readying himself to safely BASE jump in Europe's most notoriously dangerous Valley. After he returned to Moab in April, Andy ran into some trouble. He was arrested for BASE jumping in Arches National Park and was convicted of three federal misdemeanors including aerial delivery. He was fined heavily and placed on probation. He was also spotted on cameras in Las Vegas and banned from all MGM resorts internationally. But none of this phased Andy too much as he accepted his punishments (including 4 days in solitary confinement) and wrong doings and got his act together to break the world record highline height in May. He became the first person to successfully walk a hot air balloon highline wearing only a parachute at over 4000 ft above the ground. This event went viral and brought a lot of good energy to Andy and his crew. The balloon stunt started what would be Andy's most productive leap in energy since late 2011.
Andy left for Europe and attended all of the World Cup events of summer 2014, he BASE jumped in Switzerland making ~75 jumps off of highly technical terminal exits, he flew to Bangkok and rigged with Scott and Brian the largest urban highline ever (got worked hard, but with a smile), then flew to Poland to appear at the largest urban highline festival (hosted by friends jan galek, jordan tybon, and faith dickey), and finished his trip off with burning man 2014.
After Burning Man, where Andy helped rig and teach people to walk he returned to moab to prepare for his being safety coordinator at the Kuala Lumpur BASE jump tour. He only had a few days to prepare for the trip and then he was off halfway around the world again. Andy ended up rigging 2 rope swings off the window washing crane of Kuala Lumpur tower and helped more than 60 people do safe rope swing BASE jumps—more than 45 of them got their first rope swing base! Without a single hospitalization! After completing 77 jumps, and landing in 3 pools (which the video of the pool landings went viral), Andy flew to the Maldives to surf and make the first BASE jumps the islands had ever seen. Shortly after returning from the Maldives, Andy filmed for 5 different TV shows, and completed a remake of the hot air balloon stunt. This included one of Andy's most sought after stunts, top landing king fisher tower. It was Andy's dream to repeat the late Mario Richards connection from BASE jumping off dragons nest to landing on KING Fisher Tower, packing his parachute on the summit, and jumping off again. This stunt was dangerous, technical, and he was training for more than 3 years before he completed it live with Miles Daisher, and JT Holmes.
When Andy returned from Vegas, where he recreated the hot air balloon baseline stunt with Ashburn, Brent Cain, and Sylvan Christensen, Andy started the coordination and construction of his greatest masterpiece ever, the Pentagon Space NET. Over the course of a week, Andy recruited as many helpers as he could to build, lift, weave, carry, and place a 2000 square ft, 5 sided, hand woven net more than 400 ft high, hundreds of feet away from the edges, only accessible by 5 incredibly intimidating and challenging highlines. He had hundreds of people enter the net, chill, smile, laugh, and more than 100 of them BASE jumped out of the middle pink ring; to safety. More than 200 jumps were made, and again... every single one was made safely. Andy had a few goals with the net, to walk the lines, base jump the middle, land in the net from a paraglider and jump the net after landing in it, and zip line one of the legs. HE completed all his goals and more! Andy had redefined his thoughts of what success meant with this project, and shortly after it was taken down, it too went viral. It was his masterpiece, and a gift to the remembrance of his late friend Daniel Moore.
Andy spelled out his approach to life – dubbed "slacklife" – in a November 2010 interview with Brenden Gebhart. Slacklife is:
“A concept adopted by slackliners who live a life consistently and continually inspired by slacklining. Slacklining is not considered a sport by society. There is no slackline magazine. There are no set rules. No set definitions. No standardized equipment. No statistics. Most importantly, there are no true professionals. In fact there is pretty much no reason to slackline except for the sake of slacklining itself. That is the slacklife. Rules and regulations involved in the habitual and ridiculous effort to remove RISK entirely from society has made living the slacklife inside of society damn near impossible. Liability and insurance are the two words crippling the sport of slacklining today. “Slackers,” living the “slacklife,” instead; travel the globe in search of the most inspiring places to practice slacklining. Tricklining, longlining, highlining, and free solo are all separate facets of slacklining. Training all of these facets is an incredibly positive way to stay physically and mentally fit. This training is becoming a pseudo-religion amongst the community of slackliners; otherwise called the “slacklife.” Living in the moment, being immersed in the wilderness, challenging your body, developing your mind, confronting, controlling, and conquering one’s fear of death, and pursuing the pure, true, and honest unbridled feeling of freedom to do what you want is the foundation supporting the Slacklife.”
Notable highline feats
- Airwareness Highline: 105m long / 140m high—October 16, 2013 (vegas, NV) (largest urban highline)
- Leviathan Highline: 85m long / 250m high—Quite possibly the most exposed highline in the world. (fisher towers, UT)
- Afrodisiac Highline : 103.5m long / 110m high — September 10, 2010 in Moab, UT (rigging help by Ryan Matson) (2)
- King Line : 60m long / 25m high — June 28, 2009 in Millau, France (Rigging by Michi Acshaber)
- Ruin’s Highline : 55m long / 35m high (middle) — July 18, 2008 in Marin Headlands, CA (Rigging help by Scott Antipa)
Free solo (without safety leash)
Rigged most of, and walked 100 lines in 2011, 62 he walked free solo.
- Great Bongzilla Highline : 55m long / 60m high- Highlands Bowl, Moab, UT
- Shakes McCoy Highline : 40m long / 32m high — November 27, 2010 in Moab, UT
- Max Power Banana Bomb Highline 32m long / 25m high - November 1, 2010 in Germany.
- Lost Arrow Spire Highline : 17m long / 900m high — June 2009/ June 2010 (naked) in Yosemite National Park, CA
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Andy Lewis.|
- Marikar, Sheila (February 6, 2012). "Andy Lewis, Madonna’s Slack Line Dancer, on ‘Scary, Spectacular’ Super Bowl Show". ABC News.
- Jason, Will (November 25, 2010). "In 'slacklining,' Redwood High grad finds his passion". Marin Independent Journal.
- Afrodisiac Highline Footage. YouTube.com.
- Longman, Jeré (February 6, 2012). "That Guy in the Toga? Call Him a Slackliner". The New York Times.
- "Andy Lewis". Five Ten.
- "Andy Lewis". Gibbon Slacklines.
- Squirrel Backflip Footage
- Catalystic productions
- Nike Commercial featuring Andy Lewis
- Gibbon World Cup 2010
- Canyon Country Zephyr: ANDY LEWIS vs THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, August/September 2014