Briton Gary Hunt wins Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series kick-off in La Rochelle
50,000 spectators, 27.50 metres, 14° water temperature and an English winner – the sport’s most distinguished series of competitions started with the victory of cliff diver Gary Hunt. On May 15 the historic port of La Rochelle hosted the eagerly-anticipated high diving battle and it exceeded all expectations. The spectators’ never-ending cheering motivated the athletes to flaunt their jaw-dropping leaps from Saint Nicolas Tower. Orlando Duque (COL) and Kent De Mond (USA) finished second and third respectively.
2009’s series runner-up Hunt performed the most difficult dive and started season II of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series the way he finished the last – with a victory. In freezing conditions, 25 year-old Gary Hunt was awarded three tens for his last dive by the international jury and scored 390.10 points overall. “To finish ahead of Orlando Duque is great, he's the one we're all chasing. I went with a very difficult dive in the second round and in the third was happy with how I hit. The competition is great this year and I think after La Rochelle that it can get much better. I'm pleased that in the off-season I haven't lost the momentum I had built up at the end of the last series. It was strange hearing the British national anthem in France, I wasn't expecting that, but it was nice!” the Southampton-based diver said. He relegated nine times world champion and World Series champion 2009 Orlando Duque from Colombia (369.30 points) to second place and American Kent De Mond (328.25 points) to third.
The new competition format – only the top six after the first two heats make it to the final round – added an extra slice of tension for the athletes. Don’t save the best till last was the finalists’ strategy and each of them performed the dive with the highest degree of difficulty in the decisive second heat. This meant a lot of pressure on the athletes’ shoulders but all the better show for the hardy crowd of 50,000 that packed the historic port of La Rochelle inspite of the cold. At single-digit outside temperatures and heavy winds, walking was hardly possible for the divers after the landing in ice-cold water. It was the French audience’s enthusiasm that let the high divers compete on quite literally the highest level.
To heat the competition between the world’s best high divers up the second stop of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series 2010 will be hosted in Yucatán, Mexico on June 6.
Results Stop 1 Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series, La Rochelle (FRA) 1. Gary Hunt GBR 390.10 points 2. Orlando Duque COL 369.30 points 3. Kent De Mond USA 328.25 points 4. Artem Silchenko RUS 309.00 points 5. Steve Black AUS 299.80 points 6. Slava Polyeshchuk UKR 290.40 points 7. Cyrille Oumedjkane FRA 181.20 points 8. Hassan Mouti FRA 180.60 points 9. Alain Kohl LUX 171.60 points 10. Eber Pava COL 170.60 points 11. Michal Navratil CZE 162.15 points 12. Andrey Ignatenko UKR 86.40 points
Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series 2010. The world’s best divers, six challenging competitions and 26 metres between take off and hitting the water smoothly, via athletic perfection. A selection of famous and well-known diving spots, as well as extraordinary natural and challenging urban venues, have been chosen. Occurring for the second year, the share between known and new locations is 50-50. Starting on May 15 in La Rochelle (FRA), the series will take a leap over the Atlantic Ocean to Mexico (Yucatán) and come back to Europe for competitions in Norway (Kragerø), Italy (Polignano a Mare) and Switzerland (Sisikon), before reaching the land of the sport’s origin, Hawaii (Hilo), on September 12 for the grand final. Red Bull Cliff Diving competitions are judged by five international jurors with scores awarded according to the degree of difficulty and the execution of the dive.