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 two of our complete dummies guide so you’ll be in the know as the action kicks off on today on Chile’s most westerly point, Easter Island.
Of the seven spectacular locations featuring in 2011, four of them are considered natural venues where the diving platform is fixed on the rocks. These are Rapa Nui, Yucatan, Athens and Yalta.
French diver Cyrille Oumedjkane hails from Strasbourg and is considered the most experienced French competitor in the field. A lifeguard and former French national 10-metre diving champion, he switched to cliff diving in 2001 and hasn’t looked back since.
The all-important platform must be stable and at least 1.5 metres long, 0.75 metres wide and have a water-sprayed rim extending 1.5 metres beyond the vertical line.
Divers will want to avoid what’s known as a pancake landing - a crash landing on water - as the impact is about the same as a hard landing on concrete from 13 metres. Luckily, the calibre of the divers in the competition is so high that there's almost no risk of this happening due to their extensive technical and practical experience.
Tests at the Red Bull Diagnostics and Training Centre in Austria proved that even the thought of a high dive can cause the heart rate and body tension to rise, so it’s no surprise to learn that the athletes are exposed to high levels of physical and mental pressure when faced with the real thing.
Cliff diving is considered the purest extreme sport on Earth as it is just about man and the elements - it calls for concentration, skill and body control and nothing else.
Qualification for the 2011 Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series took place in January in Australia and saw 13 hopefuls compete for seven places. The top six overall from 2011 will automatically qualify for 2012 and the qualification process will be announced for those who don’t make the grade.
In May 2009, the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series was unveiled in La Rochelle, France. Now in its third season, the sport has already dazzled more than 266,000 spectators worldwide and with 12 divers from nine countries taking part in 2011 things are gearing up for the best season yet.
To participate in this sport, the main requirements are an extensive technical knowledge, several years of experience in diving or a similar acrobatic discipline, as well as courage, self-confidence, extraordinary physical control and the ability to make split-second decisions based on sight, space, time and experience.
The highest risk of injury is when the diver hits the water as parts of the body are already exposed to absolute deceleration while other parts are still at top speed out of the water.
Scoring is decided by the five judges and, after three rounds, the points for each dive are added together to give the diver a combined total. The top six qualify for the final while the others are ranked from seventh place onwards based on the cumulative scores. Those in the final will then be ranked according to the cumulative total of four dives and the winner is the diver with the highest points total on the day. The overall champion of the 2011 World Series will be the diver with the highest overall combined score after all seven rounds.
As for any extreme sport, safety is paramount in the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series. A team of rescue divers, paramedics and an ambulance form part of the essential crew at each competition.
From a height of 26 metres, the speed at which the divers enter the water is 85-90kph - about the same acceleration as a Lamborghini Murciélago!
British diver and 2010 champion Gary Hunt devised the ‘Triple Quad’ - the first-ever dive conceived exclusively for the dynamic competition - which has a degree of difficulty of 6.3 and involves a triple somersault with four twists.
A good take-off is the key to a good entry to the water and once airborne, the diver has about 10-12 metres to dazzle the judges with his sequence of aerial tricks.
Springboard diving, alongside flexibility and power training, forms the basis of the training program for cliff divers, as well as focused mental conditioning.
Both La Rochelle (FRA) and Malcesine (ITA) are considered urban venues for cliff diving as the diving platform is fixed to buildings rather than rocks. Divers will propel themselves from the historic landmarks of the Saint Nicolas Tower in La Rochelle and the Scaliger Castle in Malcesine.
The diver should enter the water in a perfectly vertical position to minimise the risk of injury and to reduce the water splash.
Water is the central element in high diving and the temperature, density and colour provide the diver with essential information about the conditions as they approach the entry point. It is also stipulated that the water depth must be at least 5 metres according to the Red Bull Cliff Diving official rules.
American diver Lucy Wardle achieved the highest dive for a female athlete at Ocean Park, Hong Kong, from a staggering 36.8 metres. Her record still stands nearly 30 years later.
At each tour stop, up to two additional wildcard divers may be invited to compete, depending on various factors and any points these divers accumulate will be awarded on an equal basis to the official competitors.
The official website of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series, www.redbullcliffdiving.com, has all the information you could ever need with diver profiles, results, videos and photo galleries as well as up-to-the-minute news.
An X-ray was certainly needed for diver Steve Black who broke his leg during training ahead of the first round of the 2011 World Series. The Australian finished sixth in both 2009 and 2010 but will be out of action now until summer 2011. Let’s hope he makes a speedy recovery.
The biggest landmark in Crimea hosts the grand final of 2011 as the divers prepare to leap from the neo-gothic Swallow’s Nest castle near Yalta in southern Ukraine.
But long before we reach the final stop of the year, the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series will land in Yucatàn, Mexico, in April for the second round. Divers will plunge into the freshwater sinkhole close to the famed UNESCO World Heritage site of Chichen Itza.
Diving in all three dimensions, the athletes rotate on every axis including the z-axis, which refers to the depth of any 3-D object. You won’t need any special glasses to watch this competition, however, as the online video footage will be able to transport you to the event if you can’t make it in person!
- 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