The possibility of shooting Red Bull’s Cliff Diving from a various angles and positions such as diving ramp, ship, helicopter, above the water, and underwater, each time gives me the feeling like I live through the hole new experience than the previous time. Same thing happened at Portugal as the Azores event was the most pure and true test of cliff diving in the 2016 World Series calendar which I enjoyed very much.
Combinig the photos above and underwater, or so called split levels photography, became my specialty over time. Merging those two different worlds makes the photographies more than fascinating. When you describe to your viewers what happens underwater after the jump, you can enjoy their brethless expression.
Gary Hunt made it back-to-back wins with a stunning and comprehensive victory in the Azores, powering past American Andy Jones, who himself scored a career high second place, and Mexico’s Jonathan Paredes in third. In the women’s event, wildcard Australian Rhiannan Iffland also made it two wins out of two following her debut success in Texas. Canada’s Lysanne Richard secured a second-place finish, with American Ginger Huber completing the podium.
Fresh from his win in Copenhagen and in front of a hundred or so boats that had gathered to watch, Hunt seemed to step up another level at the pure Portuguese cliffs in the mid-Atlantic, especially impressive considering the tough diving conditions. As his rivals struggled to perfect their entries, the brilliant Brit produced a precise and clinical display from 27m, manoeuvering magically through the air and disappearing beneath the waves with barely a splash. With this victory, the 5-time champion climbs to the top spot in the overall standings ahead of Paredes, who scored his third podium finish in a row following his win in Texas and second in Copenhagen. Flying into second-place, the highest position of his career, USA’s Jones was a model of consistency, gliding gracefully and piercing the water when many of his competitors where thumping it hard.
In the women’s competition, ‘rocking rookie’ Rhiannan Iffland continued to defy her wildcard status, cruising past her more experienced rivals with another impressive display, proving her skills this time from the rocks as well as the 20.5m platform. Lysanne Richard grabbed second spot on the podium thanks to a truly spectacular final round dive which earned a score of 104.00 – the highest ever for a single dive in the women’s event. The experienced Ginger Huber rounded out the top three with another solid performance, a repeat of her third-place finish here last year.
ABOUT CLIFF DIVING
Adding a new dimension to the sport of diving, cliff diving is defined as the acrobatic perfection of diving into water from a high cliff. Braving the rough rocks, divers take a plunge in the hard-hitting water beneath to experience a thrill to last for a lifetime.
Cliff diving is probably the least complicated extreme sport. There’s no equipment to buy, no special clothing to wear and no provider services to hire. It’s just your body, sailing through the air from dizzying heights and plunging into a body of water below. Think of jumping off an eight-story building. That’s the height of 26 meters from which the 2009 Cliff Diving World Championship competitors dove.
Cliff diving puts tremendous stresses on your body. If you jump from 6 meters above the water, you’ll hit the water at 40 kph. The impact is strong enough to compress your spine, break bones or give you a concussion. Halving the height of the jump to 3 meters, reduces your speed of impact to 27 kph, and even cars sustain damage when hit at that speed.
Water type and temperature affect the thrill and pain of cliff diving. Cold water increases the stress your body feels, and because salt water is denser than fresh water, it has a harder impact.
Cliff diving is one of the riskier kinds of diving, therefore extreme caution is a must. To the benefit of the divers, certain standards have been set to minimize the risk factor. Some of these include determining the height of the jump (23 – 28 meters for men, 18 – 23 meters for women), an ideal entering speed of 75 – 100 km/h, and a free fall time of 3 seconds. Cliff diving is usually done in areas surrounded by calm waters.
This exciting sport requires a sound technical education and extensive training before one takes the first plunge. Apart from courage, self-confidence, extraordinary physical control and possessing the ability to make quick decisions is a must for this extreme sport. Unrelenting courage, uncompromising focus and the ability to make crucial decisions in a second are what make a successful cliff diver.
The real roots of Cliff Diving are found at Kaunolu, on the Hawaiian Island of Lana´i.
Back in 1770, Kahekili (1710 – 1794) the last independent king of Maui and chief of four islands was famous for “lele kawa”, which in English means: Leaping off high cliffs and entering the water feet first without a splash. In order to prove their courage and loyalty, Kahekili forced his nakoa (warriors) to follow his example, jumping of the leap into the Royal Waters at Kaunolu.
One generation later, under King Kamehameha I, the Hawaiians practiced “lele kawa” in competition. Judgment was passed on the style of the dive and the amount of splash on entry. Kahekili’s leap at Kaunolu has always been regarded as holy, although the tradition of lele kawa became forgotten for a long time.
At the end of the 1950s, Timex spokesman John Cameron Swazye used the extreme sport to “torture test” a watch. Television commercials showed an Acapulco cliff diver leaping from 26,5 meters and crashing fist-first into the surf with a Timex watch in his hand. After the television show “Wide World of Sports” featured the International Cliff Diving Championship competition in Acapulco, Mexico, in its March 9, 1968 broadcast, cliff diving surged in popularity. Then, in 1996, the World High Diving Federation was formed to organize competitions, work with Olympic committees and spread information about the sport.
More than 200 years later, the Royal Waters at Kaunolu were again the center of competitive cliff diving, when the WHDF Cliff Diving World Championship took place. Deeply affecting emotions awaked, when the modern competition sport met the ancient traditions.
During the 3-second fall from 26 meters, competition divers at the 2009 Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series experienced forces of 2 to 3 Gs when they hit the water and decelerated. That’s nine times stronger than the forces Olympic high divers feel diving from 10-meter high platforms. By the time they reached the water, the cliff diving competitors were traveling at speeds of 85 to 100 kph.