Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series

by Lauren on August 28, 2012

Going from 0-60 miles per hour in a matter of seconds; this is how high performance sports cars are measured. In the world of cliff diving, this is the acceleration that divers experience as they make their leaps.

The Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series is an elite sporting event that takes place in various dramatic stops around the world. The same roster of divers competes at each location: France, Norway, Portugal, Ireland, USA, Wales, and Oman. I was fortunate to attend the recent event in Boston, at the spectacular Institute for Contemporary Art (ICA).

How very complimentary to an avant-garde art musuem, that perfectly sculpted human beings would leap off of the top of the building.

Okay okay, enough emphasis on the divers’ striking physique…

A “low” dive from approximately 20 feet in the air translates into divers entering the water at 25 miles per hour. The body enters the water with enough force, that even the slightest wrong move can result in a concussion.

Competitors at the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series jump from heights of 26 meters, at a minimum. That’s approximately 85 feet.

Competitors enter the water feet first; diving head first can cause serious damage to their head, neck and shoulders. For a close-up view, here is a shot of a diver entering the water:

None of the intrepid guys in Boston seemed deterred by height, or by dive difficulty. Shown below is David Colturi, a star American diver and the youngest on the tour. He placed in the top three, and the more than 45,000 people in the crowd couldn’t have been happier.

Each diver had an energetic entourage, including personal trainers, friends, and Moms.

Red Bull certainly knows how to promote an event. Or “spread the stoke,” as they like to say. There were camera crews camped out on every angle; on the viewing deck, on the top of nearby buildings, inside helicopters, and camped out inside the ICA.

This cameraman was in a room along with the medic team for the event. They took safety seriously.

Speaking of safety, each dive was preceded by a team of “safety divers” splashing the water’s surface, below the platform. They arranged themselves in a rectangle, such that the diver would land in the middle. Creating splash helps the divers visualize the surface of the water; from the top of the platform, it simply looks like a flat pane of glass.

It’s essential to visualize the water as divers make their various flips and turns.

The safety divers would plunge below the surface as each competitor entered the water, to be sure that the competitors emerged in one piece. Thunbs-up and high fives were given all around, both as a safety measure, but also as congratulations for landing a wickedly epic dive.

A fancy jetski would bring each diver quick to the nearby dock, loaded with press teams and judges. Occupying one of the judging seats was none other than American Olympic diver Greg Louganis.

Last year I attended this event, when few friends knew about it, and it was fairly easy to snag a spot on the observation deck. This year there was far more awareness, and one couldn’t have arrived early enough.

Needless to say, I’m planning a return to next year’s event in Boston, and will camp out overnight to get a viewing spot, if need be.

For more, see the epic video from Red Bull on Highlights from Boston.

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