It’s almost time for the inaugural round of the 2011 Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series to get underway but don’t worry if you’re not up to speed just yet. Help is at hand as we’ve put together part one of our complete dummies guide so you’ll be in the know as the action kicks off on tomorrow on Chile’s most westerly point, Easter Island.
Cliff diving really gained momentum back the 1930s in Acapulco, Mexico… In the quest to fish for the largest and most valuable pearls, local divers began leaping from the rugged cliff tops at La Quebrada. With only a narrow inlet to aim for, timing was crucial for these brave souls as they plunged into the crashing waves below from heights of up to 40 metres, according to legend. Apparently it was 13-year-old daredevil Enrique Apac Rios who made the very first leap.
Moving across to Europe, 2011 sees Athens on the calendar for the World Series once again. The birthplace of the modern Olympic Games, the Greek city was also host to the 2009 Cliff Diving grand final, which saw Orlando Duque take the inaugural crown.
The true birthplace of cliff diving is considered to be Lanai, Hawaii, where the island’s chief King Kahekili launched himself from a rock made of lava in the late 1700s. He then insisted his soldiers follow suit to prove their courage and loyalty. A generation later, the Hawaiians turned the practice into a competitive event where marks were awarded for the style of the dive and the least amount of splash.
Heading to Boston, Massachusetts, for the sixth stop of the 2011 Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series on 20 August, it will be the first time the event has been staged on the US mainland.
Much like driving a car, divers have a braking distance to consider. For a high dive from 26 metres it will take about another 4 metres after hitting the water for the daring athletes to come to a halt.
A chamois leather (known as a ‘shammy’ for those who don’t parler Français) is an invaluable piece of kit for cliff divers who need to keep themselves dry between dives to ensure optimum aerodynamics. Just like a small towel, this cloth is super absorbent and can be squeezed dry again instantly so it can prove extremely useful when the temperature drops in helping the divers to remain dry and warm.
Each dive is judged on the degree of difficulty with particular attention paid to the take-off, number of somersaults and twists, position during somersaults and the entry into the water.
To help identify the type of dive, there are four dive positions to refer to: straight (no bend at the knees or hips), pike (knees straight and a tight bend at the hips), tuck (body curled up with hands on the shins and toes pointed) and free (a sequence of the other positions).
The top 12 divers in the world have been selected to compete in the 2011 Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series, which stops in seven jaw-dropping locations around the world. Only the sport’s elite can qualify for the prestigious competition.
Undoubtedly Orlando Duque is among the elite as nine-time world champion and 2009 Red Bull Cliff Diving victor. The Colombian also scored a ‘perfect 10’ from seven judges at the WHDF Cliff Diving World Championship in 2000 making history with a score of 159.00 points and earning a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for the highest ever score for a dive.
Pushing the boundaries of the sport, the evolution of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series is continually happening with the creation of radical new diving manoeuvres, spectacular locations added to the calendar and a strong following around the world. Providing a stable platform height of 26 metres and raising the bar in terms of technical focus, the World Series has thrilled and delighted crowds since 2009 and looks set to take the competition to the next level in 2011.
Only experience can protect the divers from injury - there is no equipment to rely on, just sound judgement and the benefit of years of training and diving from extreme heights.
Diving from a height of 53.9 metres, Olivier Favre performed a double back somersault in Villers-le-Lac, France, in 1987. The Swiss stuntman still holds the record today.
The all-important format of the competition is what makes it so captivating for spectators as it combines the traditional high-diving format with a mix of rules from the Fédération Internationale de Natation (FINA) and High Diving Alliance (HDA). Divers select four dives and submit these prior to the competition - two must have a maximum degree of difficulty of 3.6 while two optional dives are assigned a degree of difficulty calculated using the HDA table.
During a dive from 27 metres, athletes have about three seconds of freefall before they plunge into the water - not much time to complete a complex series of aerial manoeuvres to wow the judges.
At its most intense point, G-forces come into play as the act of cliff diving can exert a force of up to 3G on athletes - that means they feel three times heavier than their actual bodyweight.
A specific minimum height of 26.5 metres is set for the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series - the equivalent of an eight-storey building. In high-diving competitions, heights can range from 23-28 metres for men and 18-23 for women. The maximum height in the World Series is 28 metres.
British diving ace Gary Hunt took the title in 2010, leaving little doubt that he was on a mission after winning four out of six stops in the World Series. A former Olympic diver, Gary unleashed his Triple Quad move on the world in 2009 and has also advanced the sport further with the addition of a running take-off to allow him to add an extra twist to his sequence. A true pioneer of the sport and a definite contender for back-to-back titles in 2011.
Comparable to a hard landing from a height of 13 metres on to a concrete surface, the force of the impact from 26 metres is nine times harder than from a 10-metre diving platform. Ouch.
An international panel of judges made of up five experts will give scores for the dives based on the take-off, position in the air and water entry. Scores are awarded from 0-10. The head judge for 2011 is former Italian national diving team member Claudio De Miro.
One of two rookies for 2011, 28-year-old Ukrainian diver Oleksandr Kutsenko makes his Red Bull Cliff Diving debut this year. The professional stuntman, known as Sacha to his friends, won his place after finishing fifth in the qualification rounds in Australia at the start of the year.
World famous Olympic diving legend Greg Louganis joins the judging panel in 2011. With two gold medals (Los Angeles 1984 and Seoul 1988) to his name, Greg is the only male diver in history to sweep the board in consecutive Olympic Games after winning both the springboard and platform events. He’ll be one tough judge to impress.
Location, location, location! With seven breathtaking backdrops on this year’s Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series there is something for everyone. Kicking off in Rapa Nui (CHI) before heading to Yucatan (MEX), Athens (GRE), La Rochelle (FRA), Malcesine (ITA), Boston (USA) and rounding off in Yalta (UKR) it’s set to be a non-stop sensation across the globe in 2011.
A major part of success in this sport is mental preparation with the divers rehearsing the sequence in their mind before stepping onto the platform. People have their own approach, whether mimicking the entire thing with their body or visualising it in their head. Whatever the technique, the key is to be completely focused in the final few seconds free of any fear.
The iconic stone monolithic human figures found on Rapa Nui (Easter Island) - the first stop on the 2011 calendar - are known as moai. There are 887 of these giant stone statues that have notably large faces and are carved from the rock on the Polynesian island between 1250 and 1500AD.
- Hunt versus Hunter
- Gear up for the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series 2011
- Mexican makes Series step-up
- Visit the Red Bull Cliff Diving site