‘Survivor’ Season 42: Jeff Probst Says Tribes Were in the Water for 22 Minutes Before Stopping the Challenge in Episode 3

Survivor contestants have powered through the toughest of situations over the years. But a dangerous Survivor Season 42 challenge just made history. According to Jeff Probst, in Episode 3, producers were forced to stop a challenge for the very first time when they realized the tribes were battling intensifying ocean conditions. 

Jeff Probst, who hosts a new episode of 'Survivor' Season 42 tonight, March 23, wears a dark blue button-up shirt with the sleeves rolled up to his elbows,
Jeff Probst | Photo: Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment

Ika and Vati battled ocean swells in ‘Survivor 42’ Episode 3

In the Survivor 42 Episode 3 immunity challenge, the teams were tasked with diving to the ocean floor to retrieve a ladder that would be used in the next part of the challenge. Jonathan Young brought team Taku to a win and proceeded to set their ladder up for the next part. But as ocean swells began to intensify, the Ika and Vati tribes found it harder to grab hold of their ladders. 

“The two struggling tribes were in the water for 22 minutes,” Probst told Entertainment Weekly. “That is an incredibly long time in those conditions. At times, the ocean pulled them so far off the course they were running into our camera platforms. It was insanity.”

The remaining tribes kept trying to finish the challenge. But worsening ocean conditions made it harder with each go. 

“To their credit, not a single player ever called for help,” the host said. “Nobody asked us to stop the challenge and rescue them. They kept fighting. They kept working together. They kept trying to finish the challenge. I was truly impressed.” 

Jeff Probst reveals how he stopped a challenge for the first time in ‘Survivor’ history

After seeing the tribes’ increasing exhaustion, Probst made a call and brought them back in. He announced that they would be able to restart from the last checkpoint to settle which team would go to the Tribal Council. 

“The decision to stop the challenge was made because we could see that the conditions were continuing to get worse,” he told Entertainment Weekly. “There was no let-up coming and we knew that they had exhausted themselves to the point of simply not having enough strength left to finish.” 

Probst has been hosting/producing Survivor for over 20 years. But this was the first time in the show’s history that he ever needed to step in and stop a challenge. 

“There wasn’t time for us to huddle and discuss the decision, it was obvious that they were never going to be able to hold the ladder while someone climbed up it,” he revealed. “Absolutely no chance. And because both tribes were equally helpless, we knew it would be fair to bring them both in and restart the challenge.”

Jeff Probst says the show follows strict safety measures

In his chat with Entertainment Weekly, Probst revealed that the Immunity Challenge was done by the show’s Dream Team a day before when the weather was much calmer. But on the day of the competition, he knew the intense wind could create a problem. 

“On our end, there was definitely a sense of excitement, because these are the kinds of unexpected surprises you want in a Survivor challenge,” Probst said. “But there was also a sense of urgency, especially from our challenge team and our marine department. They wanted to start the challenge as soon as possible because they wanted to make sure it could finish.” 

The longtime host gave credit to the show’s production team for keeping on top of the situation. And he noted that there were safety protocols in place the whole time. 

“It’s important for our viewers to know that the players are always safe,” he suggested. “We have safety swimmers at every challenge. Their only job is to watch the players, and if anyone is ever in real danger, they can get to them immediately.”  

New episodes of Survivor 42 air Wednesdays on CBS. 

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