Hunt laid the foundation for victory with a brilliant dive in the second round to take an impressive win at the sixth round of the series in Hamburg, Germany, ahead of first round winner Andrey Ignatenko (UKR) and up-and-coming diver Michal Navratil (CZE). On a chilly but bright Saturday morning, 15,000 spectators came to the city’s old port to watch Hunt and 11 co-competitors, the world’s best cliff divers, leaping from the Rickmer Rickmers, the 113-year-old historic tall ship.
The Englishman came up with a totally new dive at the last stop in Antalya, Turkey. Consisting of a back triple somersault and four piked twists, it requires a minimum height of 26m - the series’ standard height - to be performed. A degree of difficulty of 6.2 classifies it as the hardest in diving so far. In Hamburg, the 25-year-old from Southampton changed his strategy and used the dive earlier in the competition, performing it perfectly: “Winning my first competition of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series here in Hamburg is amazing and I still can’t believe I did it! I changed the order of my dives and got out of the water with such a relief after I have done the triple somersault with four twists in round two. To get first was actually one of my goals for this season.”
It was not only today’s winner who performed his hardest dive already in the second and not in the third heat, but also third placed Michal Navratil from Prague, the youngest athlete in the series. This tactical change reduces the pressure for the final dive and produced the Czech’s surprising podium finish, just 0.70pts behind Ukrainian Andrey Ignatenko.
The victory means Gary Hunt narrows down the gap between him (91pts) and current leader Orlando Duque (103pts) to 12 points. The Colombian was slightly handicapped by a bruised rib and finished fourth today. With Russia’s Artem Silchenko lying in third on 75pts and Ukraine’s Andrey Ignatenko fourth on 73pts the Series looks like it will be a photo finish between Duque and Hunt. Positions five to ten in the championship are only separated by nine points. Colombian Eber Pava cannot finish the series due to a broken wrist sustained in training.
And so the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series 2009 bids a fond fairwell to the maritime traditions of the Hanseatic city of Hamburg as the series moves south to the alpine setting of Sisikon at Lake Lucerne, Switzerland, on September 5.