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Banging on about High Diving and extreme sports rules and regulations

This is becoming an exhaustive subject! Sorry. But apologies again for some more mis-information…

We recently reported on Dana Kunze’ 172 ft dive as being the highest dive in the world. We thought that was pretty extreme.

We were then corrected and told that it was actually Oliver Favre who held the title with a 177 ft dive. Also extreme.

And then Dana Kunze himself has set the record straight for us….

Yes, it is perfectly correct that Oliver Farve completed a dive of 177 ft. However, he sustained injuries – in fact he broke his back – and the rule of the game is that you are disqualified if you are injured in this sport.

Therefore… it is Dana Kunze who holds the title and achievement of being the World’s Highest Diver.

If you are an avid reader of our Blog (which we sincerely hope you are) you might remember similar rules in another extreme sport we follow with interest – freediving.

Although Sara Campbell completed an incredible 100m constant weight depth dive – the first woman to have attained this remarkable depth, she briefly blacked out as she broke the surface and was therefore disqualified. She completed the competition with a successful 96m dive – still a world record breaker. littlefreediver

There are rules that are put in place to try and protect competitors from doing themselves a damage.

There have been many debates over regulating thrill-seeking ”extreme sports’ – Freediving and High diving, to name but two, have imposed their own strict rules.

Lawmakers in Switzerland have been pushing for laws regulating fate-tempting sports, which often involve inexperienced participants, but passing such laws, whether involving caving, canyoning, paragliding, ice climbing or bungee jumping, has proved difficult in Switzerland, even in the face of several disasters in recent years.

The problem is people do extreme sports because it gives them a feeling of freedom – an escape from the nanny state we all live in. If everything became too regimented one risks pushing these people toward activities that are even less controlled.

You might have heard of the BASEjumping accident at Table Mountain, Cape Town on Friday? It seems that South Africa has a remarkably sympathetic and sensible attitude to extreme sports enthusiasts and this accident has drawn it into focus. Would the rest of the world could listen and learn…

Base jumper Karl Hayden sustained minor injuries after his canopy malfunctioned as he leapt off Table Mountain on Friday. Rescue workers spent several hours combing the mountainside before airlifting Hayden to safety, the Cape Times reported. Hayden was lucky; despite multiple fractures — wrist, rib, femur and pelvis — the Capetonian managed to avoid a spinal injury, the daily reported.

That was the situation.

And the shout that goes out worldwide saying “aren’t people like Karl Hayden wasting rescue services time and money by doing a sport that is inherently dangerous? Why should rescue survices then put themselves in danger by trying to rescue these foolhardy idiots?”

Well, the response in South Africa was calm, measured and sensible. Wayne Smith, deputy director of Metro Medical Services, South Africa, agrees that although there are risks involved, extreme sports will continue despite any attempt at regulating the activity.

“Extreme sports are always going to be around. Extreme sports are risky but society needs to give people who enjoy those types of activities the necessary space to do so,” said Smith.

Mountain rescue worker, Roy White, says he has no problem in helping those who put themselves in harm’s way.

“It’s part of my job. Most of us are quite happy to help them. Where do you draw the line from an accident to an attempted suicide? Everyone who uses the mountain faces a certain amount of risk.”

If regulations were brought in, the feeling is that very quickly most extreme sports enthusiasts would find a way to circumnavigate them. Banning a sport in a certain area would only make things worse because they would go ahead and do it anyway and that would make things even more difficult for rescue services.

It seems rescue workers and extreme sports enthusiasts reach a stalemate when it comes to regulating the sport. But perhaps the last word belongs to basic common sense.

“We can’t regulate the sport but we could advise them to leave contact details with someone. It all comes down to educating people about good mountain use,” said White. And that sort of prosaicness is comforting and oh-so sensible.

Anyway, what has happened to freedom of choice? I am not advocating that you go out there and so something so ludicrously stupid that the result is death. But, if you do an extreme sport, you are obviously aware of the risks, are you not? And having evaluated that and decided to continue, then that, surely, is your choice, is it not? and having taken that decision, you are not likely to be the type of person to squeal if something goes wrong… are you?

If you are aware of the dangers before you begin, you can’t then cry “but nobody told me…”

The problem is that we are being so conditioned by over zealous governments as to ‘what to, how to, when to… do anything’, that if anything goes wrong one instantly hears “it’s not my fault., it must be yours'”. I think for this very reason a chunk of society, in a last ditch attempt of having some control and decision over their own lives, take to an extreme sport where they decide on a sport, learn the art and then make their own decisions and no-one can tell them what to do…

What do you think?

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