Energy drink maker Red Bull who is well known for its extreme sports competitions is at it again - This time with its free-diving world championships series. However, unlike other free-diving competitions, these do not entail jumping off a diving board, but off some scarily high cliffs, waterfalls and even . . . . . a high-rise in Boston.
The event, which took place on Saturday, August 20th, was held at the city's Fan Pier. A crowd of over 23,000 spectators watched in awe, as the 12 finalists and two wildcards from as many countries, leapt off an 85ft. platform that had been built off the Institute of Contemporary Art Building.
The competition is so tough that the entrants that include the world's best divers are selected by invite only. Also, due to the extreme heights that the divers leap off, they have to enter the water feet first, to reduce the impact and prevent injuries. Each diver also has to give a thumbs-up signal when they enter the water, to let the safety team they are okay.
Each competitor is allowed four dives - Two mandatory dives of a maximum degree of difficulty of 3.6 and two optional ones of the degree of difficulty desired by the competitor. The scores are allocated by five diving judges, who then proceed to eliminate the lowest and highest score for each dive. The remaining three scores are added and multiplied by the degree of difficulty to provide the total score for each competitor.
And, while the highest scorer wins this round, he is not the overall champion - that's because the Boston dive is just one in a series of seven events (one each month) held at some of the world's most scenic and exotic locales. This year's past stops have included Chile,Mexico,Greece,Italy, France and, last week's event in Boston, which while not exotic, was unusual because it is the only urban location in the entire series. The seventh and final dive scheduled for September 4th, will take place at the small seaside town of Yalta in the Ukraine.
Saturday's Boston heat was won by last year's champion, Gary Hunt. The British diver who has won the last four heats too, impressed the judges with his flawless dives at speeds that exceeded 60mph, effectively snagging the lead before the final event of the series in Yalta. If he manages to keep up his scores against his teammates and three wildcards, he will once again be crowned champion of this nail biting competition - So stay tuned!