Home advantage for Gary Hunt at season opener in France
Gary Hunt will make his competitive debut for France as the 2021 Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series kicks off at a brand-new location on the Côte d’Azur.
Gary Hunt has amassed eight overall Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series titles and two FINA High Diving World Championships titles for Great Britain. Now, starting with the 2021 cliff diving season kick-off on June 12, the ‘brilliant Brit’ will compete under the French flag for the first time. In the lead up to the first competition from up to 27m in almost two years, the defending champion tested the waters around Saint-Raphaël.
“It’s exciting to be back diving from great heights and entering the water feet first, after I focused on 10m diving last year and managed to qualify for the European Championships,” Hunt explains.
“The new location at Cap Dramont looks fantastic and daunting at the same time as I could experience first-hand during my short visit a couple of days ago. It’s been a while since we all dove from that height and it would be the first time I’ll wave the French flag would I make it on the podium!”
Strongest men's line-up yet
Whether the Frenchman – who’ll celebrate his 37th birthday the day before the final competition rounds – can materialise his home advantage and secure the first podium finish for France will strongly depend on the performance of his rivals. They come in great force as 2021 is the first year since the World Series debuted on the French Atlantic coast in La Rochelle in 2009, that all eight permanent athletes have won at least one individual competition.
Can anyone stop Iffland?
In the women’s competition, all eyes will be on reigning champion Rhiannan Iffland. Following a perfect season with wins in the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series as well as the FINA High Diving World Championships in 2019, the Australian made the news with two world-firsts in the last couple of months. In Romania she took diving underground as she leapt from the walls of a salt mine 120m beyond the surface and only recently she became the first person to launch from a moving hot air balloon in her native New South Wales.
Following the same sportive standards as the men’s starting this season, the women’s category now also features eight instead of the previous six permanent athletes. This made way for two additional talents to secure a permanent ticket for this year, amongst them Colombia’s up-and-coming Maria Paula Quintero. The 20-year-old is not only the youngest female diver to ever achieve a podium, but also the youngest ever athlete to compete full-time on the World Series. 2019’s runner up, Britain’s first-ever permanent athlete Jessica Macaulay – now starting for Canada – will also be one to watch.
The women’s debut on French soil will kick off the 12th season of the World Series in Cap Dramont, a brand-new location on the famous Côte d’Azur. Just outside of the village of Saint-Raphaël, the nature preserve area features a signalling station built in 1860 which is still in active use as an observation post. Offering breath-taking views from the Ile d’Or and the Agay Bay, the diving location is a flashy red rock some metres off the shore.
In a celebration of the world’s purest extreme sport, the 80th World Series stop since its introduction will allow the athletes to take-off from the plain rocks during their Required Dive round before they return to the platforms for the remaining three dives.
Watching the divers freefalling into the Mediterranean Sea, viewers on the water will fall silent for the men’s three-second flights from 27m. This time will also have the added treat of seeing the women showcase their acrobatic skills from 21m.
Wildcards (women, men): Anna Bader (GER), Genevieve Bradley (USA), Molly Carlson (CAN), Ginni Van Katwijk (NED), Xantheia Pennisi (AUS); Carlos Gimeno (ESP), Nathan Jimerson (USA), Catalin Preda (ROU), Oleksiy Prygorov (UKR), Artem Silchenko (RUS).
WATCH IT LIVE
This competition will be LIVE on June 12 from 12:30 GMT on Red Bull TV. Be sure to download the free Red Bull TV app and catch unmissable action on all your devices! Get the app here.