Rafael Bridi is not afraid of heights - in fact, he enjoys them.
The 35-year-old Brazilian holds the Guinness World Records titles for the highest slackline walk and the longest slackline walk over an active volcano (ISA-approved).
A quickly growing sport, slacklining is very much like tightrope walking.
But instead of a taut cord or rope, a cable or polyester belt is rigged between tree slings to create a tensioning system which athletes then use to balance and perform tricks, oftentimes while suspended in the air.
Rafael is passionate about being outdoors, connecting with nature and embarking on extraordinary adventures.
But what drove this aerial adventurist to achieve such amazing feats?
Rafael first became interested in slacklining when he was at a friend’s house and tethered a cable between two palm trees.
Although it didn’t come naturally to him at first, it did inspire him to continue striving to achieve the perfect balance.
His competitive and driven mindset motivated him to practise consistently until he fell in love with the discipline, eventually training himself to achieve static poses, dynamic tricks and perfect balance.
By using his skills as an engineer, Rafael developed strategic slacklining techniques, ultimately becoming an expert in the field.
He quickly made a name for himself as a professional slackliner, even meeting other professionals in the sport like Dean Potter and Philippe Petit.
On 2 December 2021, the slackline enthusiast put his impressive skills to the test as he walked 18 metres (59 ft) between two hot-air balloons over the Praia Grande in Santa Catarina, Brazil, at an altitude of 1,901 meters (6,236 ft), breaking the record for the highest slackline walk.
To put it into perspective, the length walked was double the height of Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building.
"The walk was pleasant and very calm," Rafael said.
"The line wasn’t hard to walk but I totally lost sense of time because it was so beautiful."
The record title for the longest slackline walk over an active volcano was 261 metres (856 ft) and was achieved by Rafael alongside Alexander Schulz (Germany). They both walked at an altitude of 42 metres (137 ft) above the crater of Mount Yasur, a stratovolcano on Tanna Island in Vanuatu on 15 April 2020.
do. not. look. down. 😳🌋 pic.twitter.com/2mn8xuCUQK— Guinness World Records (@GWR) September 21, 2022
Rafael believes that the most challenging part of the walk is being mindful and focusing on the present.
To prepare for such extraordinary heights, Rafael trains two to three days a week, and even has a 100-metre-long slackline at home to practice.
He also combines his training with other sports including yoga, meditation, surfing, cycling, jiu-jitsu and climbing.
To successfully accomplish his record attempts, Rafael knew he needed to engage in new experiences, and understand the true meaning of freedom.
"I wanted to experience complete freedom while highlining," he said.
"I managed to have that experience walking between the two flying balloons way above the clouds."
Rafael hopes his achievements will inspire the world to believe in their dreams.
"With motivation and discipline, everything is possible," Rafael said.
"Everyone has something that makes them feel special, connected, and present in the moment. Don’t get away from this feeling - keep nurturing it and building an identity."
Humans have an average of six thousand thoughts per day.
Rafael's mantra focuses on breathing, which gives him a sense of mindfulness and rids him of unwanted thoughts.
During his journey, he has seen remarkable sunrises and sunsets, and has even received occasional visits from curious birds landing on the slacklines.
He has also witnessed nature and the formation of rainbows from a very privileged point of view.
Rafael says the best part about slacklining is having the opportunity to learn important lessons and leaving an impact on the world and a mark on the lives of the people he connects with.
"My walks help me feel complete."
He intends to keep training and developing slacklining as a sport.
Rafael’s next goal is to rig the first highline at 6,000 metres (19,685.03 ft), above the Andes mountains, and he also hopes to break another record in the near future.