Daredevil and famed tightrope walker Nik Wallenda finally completed his high wire walk across the U.S. 41 highway in downtown Sarasota, Fla. on Tuesday morning after unsteady cables and stronger-than-expected winds made everyone who was watching cringe with suspense and hold their breaths, according to reports.
The 34-year-old circus performer and six-time Guinness World Record holder performed the Sarasota high wire walk in just nine minutes on a sunny yet windy morning, starting it at Bayfront Park and ending it at the Marina Tower Condominium. The Sarasota City Commission allowed Wallenda to walk nearly 600 feet of cable strung almost 200 feet above U.S. Highway 41 without a safety harness or net, according to the Associated Press, which could have helped in saving Wallenda's great-grandfather Karl Wallenda, who died at 73 after attempting to walk between two buildings in Puerto Rico in 1978.
"I'm risking my life on every single one of them, so there's no difference" said the younger Wallenda as he walked. "My great-grandfather did many amazing walks around the world. The one that took his life was minuscule in comparison."
Wallenda, who had to wear a tether for the first time when he performed a 25-minute walk across Niagara Falls in June because the television network that was paying for the performance insisted on it, said there was more wind than he expected and that the cables were moving "quite a bit." As a result, since the permit from the Sarasota City Commission allowed the highway to be closed for only an hour, Wallenda's crew had just 15 minutes to adjust the stabilizing cables for the high wire.
"Holy crap," Wallenda said to his crew at one point. "Come on guys, it's horrible."
Still, Wallenda was able to keep calm and joke with his father, saying "Who do I need to spank when I get down?"
That's no surprise considering that Wallenda, whose family has been walking the high wire for over 200 years spanning seven generations, trained in heavy gusts for his nerve-wracking Niagara Falls walk.
"It's stuff I've trained for my entire life," he told WTSP in Tampa Bay before the Sarasota high wire walk. "I've trained with heavy winds up to 90 miles per hour for Niagara Falls, so it's all about the preparation that goes into this."
Wallenda was asked why he chose to walk in Sarasota.
"This is the city I love, I have passion for, I was born and raised in and I wanted to do something to give back to the city that supported me."
As for Wallenda's next grand stunt, he reportedly already has the permits to become the first man to ever walk a wire across the Grand Canyon.
Check out video of Wallenda's Sarasota high wire walk and Niagara Falls high wire walk below.