Courtesy of Red Bull Media Service Team
Stunning, majestic, awe-inspiring; these are just some of the words used when describing the action-packed and aesthetic dives executed by the brave and super-skilled athletes of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series. But those acrobatic and elegant mid-air manoeuvres are not the only thing responsible for the dropping of jaws, widening of eyes and standing of hairs on the back. Providing the backdrop to every competition are locations that are every bit as stunning and majestic as the dives.
In 2018, the World Series will celebrate its landmark 10th season when the elite men and women of this sport gather at Hell’s Gate in Texas to begin their quest for the King Kahekili Trophy. In the last decade, they have travelled the globe many times over, showcasing their skills at a wide array of locations across the planet. From pure cliffs, exotic lagoons and idyllic waterfalls to world-famous bridges, buildings and landmarks, nowhere has been off limits, and our photographers have been there every step of the way to capture the beautiful combination of scenery and graceful dives.
Now, to celebrate the 10th anniversary, we take a look back at the 12 most Instagramable locations in the sport’s history.
12. Maunsell Forts, England
Maunsell Forts in Kent was built in the Thames Estuary to defend the UK during World War II. Brits Blake Aldridge and Gary Hunt were, of course, the natural choice to show off their talents during a teaser dive in the run-up to the first World Series event in British waters in 2012.
11. Wadi Shab, Oman
Wadi Shab, a canyon-like valley with emerald water, was the location for the 2012 final, where the title battle went right down to the wire between Gary Hunt and Orlando Duque. It was also the hottest location ever, with temperatures nudging 45 degrees.
10. Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
The Arch of Cabo San Lucas, or ‘El Arco’, is a natural rock formation with a limestone arch emerging from the white sandy beach. Jonathan Paredes and David Colturi used the location as a cliff diving playground for a day in the lead up to the 2017 season.
9. Polignano a Mare, Italy
The place where houses rise from the rocks, and divers enter the platform through a private terrace, was on the calendar back when it all began in 2009. 2018 will be the sixth time in 10 years the competition has been hosted here, and this time it will be the big season finale.
8. Mount Fuji, Japan
13-time world champion Orlando Duque travelled to Kumomi at the base of the 3,776m high Mount Fuji, a UNESCO World Heritage site, to dive from Ushitsuki Iwa, the ‘Bull’s Rock’, before the first-ever stop in Japan at Shirahama in 2016.
7. Yucatan, Mexico
Rachelle Simpson was crowned as the first-ever female champion at the ‘Blue Cenote’ Ik Kil, in 2014. Root-covered walls, crystal-clear waters and lush green vegetation made for a truly photogenic location.
6. Dubai, UAE
The 2016 final in Dubai was the first-ever night event, where the divers needed to call on all their aerial awareness skills as they leapt from Pier 7 – a circular-designed building with stunning views of the city skyline and the Arabian Gulf. Gary Hunt and Rhiannan Iffland were crowned champions at midnight.
5. Inis Mor, Ireland
Rough and rugged Inis Mor on the Atlantic Coast of Ireland provided a stiff test for the cliff diving elite, as they dived into an almost perfectly rectangular sea-pool carved out by Mother Nature. The mysterious blowhole of Serpent’s Lair allows the ocean water to flow in and out through a network of underwater tunnels and caverns, providing a moving target for the divers.
4. Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Spain
The imposing and iconic Guggenheim Museum Bilbao provided the backdrop for the 50th World Series stop in 2015. A huge crowd lined the Nervión river for the season finale, where Steven LoBue won and Gary Hunt was crowned overall champion.
3. New York, USA
Diving locations don’t come much more special than this one – a ‘leap of freedom’. On August 19, 2013, just as dawn was breaking in the city that never sleeps, Orlando Duque leapt into the New York Harbour in front of the Statue of Liberty.
2. Vila Franca do Campo, Azores
The purest cliff diving spot of them all. Once again in 2018 the World Series will return to the volcanic archipelago in the mid-Atlantic, where divers will leap directly off the rocks at different take-off points.
1. Hong Island, Krabi, Thailand
Number 1 in the countdown, and it’s not hard to see why. Hong Island was part of an ‘island-hopping’ stop for the 2013 final, as divers leapt directly off the rocks into the beautiful Andaman Sea. The rock summits off the coast of Krabi are a geological wonder with limestone cliffs that formed 300 million years ago, preceding human habitation that dates back around 40,000 years, and many have not yet been touched by human feet.