I don’t often follow a competition assiduously, but when it’s one that is as supremely beautiful as this one, and about as extreme a discipline as you can submit your body to … well then, I think it’s worth it!
The 4th stop of the Red Bull Cliff Diving competition will happen at La Rochelle, France this Saturday, June 18th, 2011. La Rochelle is a city in western France on the Atlantic Ocean and in the Bay of Biscay – about 1,000 kms from where we live here in the south of France… I thought I might just ‘pop’ across, but I always forget what a huge country France is! But, whether I can make it or not, the countdown is on…
Traditionally, this is the most popular Red Bull Cliff Diving site with more than 50,000 spectators turning up in the past to watch this spectacular event. “The weather is as unpredictable as ever and the crowd is always incredible” say Red Bull.
It is probably because the dive is in a fabulous venue. La Rochelle, or, literally translated, ‘Little Cliff’, has seen people passing between the Saint Nicolas Tower and the Tour de la Chaine to enter the city via the seaway since 1345. The 42 metre-high landmark and former jail with its pentagonal design will once again preside over the competition. With three competitions completed and three more to come after the French stop, it is no exaggeration to say that the cliff diving event here is certainly pivotal. It is also, at 27.5m, the highest platform of the circuit.
Three new wildcard divers will be introduced at this event: Kyle Mitrione (USA), Kris Kolanus ((POL) and Blake Aldridge (GBR). The three rookies replace three of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series’ more established performers. Hassan Mouti is forced to watch the competition from home soil following his continued recovery from the missed training dive at the third stop in Athens last month. Orlando Duque is recovering from a skydiving injury (smashed ankle) and Steven LoBuhas has work commitments.
Home turf will be putting their hopes, lungs and prayers on Cyrille Oumedjkane – the Strasbourg-based diver who is in search of France’s first-ever podium finish in a World Series Cliff Diving event. He has had an impressive start to the season with two fourth-placed finishes in Mexico and Greece.
This is the mid-way point of the competition. So much will hinge on the results.
Gary Hunt, current leader in the rankings, says, “judging from the last two years of competition, we can expect an incredible atmosphere, gail-force winds, and a nail-biting event.”
“I’ve been thinking of doing a flying front and an inward double half as well, but I will see how it goes in training ahead of La Rochelle,” he added.
The competition has a tight time schedule. It can only take place between 7pm and 9pm, when the tide in the Bay of Biscay is high enough to secure the required water depth of five metres!
70,000 spectators are expected this year… good luck to all and everyone of the competitors especially to the rookies as it must be quite a daunting task to enter an event of this prestige and class at this pivotal stage.
Photo courtesy of Romina Amato/Red Bull Cliff Diving