Take these cliff divers to Ibiza and you know they'll do something huge
Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series athletes embark on an exploratory adventure to dive in one of the most hard-to-reach places on Ibiza’s wild west coast.
Satisfying the desire to delve into spectacular and extraordinary explorations just reached another level as a group of five accomplished athletes of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series, accompanied by the sport’s ambassador, Colombian legend Orlando Duque, met on Spain’s third largest Balearic Island, Ibiza. Australia’s four-time World Series champion Rhiannan Iffland, and David Colturi from the US, spend their time between competitions in Europe, so they teamed up with Gary Hunt representing France and the Spain-based divers Celia Fernández and Jonathan Paredes in a quest to conquer Ibiza's Cave of Light.
Adventure comes with challenge and that’s exactly what this overwhelmingly beautiful cave provided – a challenge. “When I first heard about this place, I was very shocked,” says Hunt, the World Series record winner. “I didn't know if it would be possible. Then I saw photos and it kind of went in the other direction – I felt like we can do it. Seeing the place for real, it was a real difficult decision-making process.”
The perfect take-off position was 25m above the crystal clear water on a tiny flat stone platform. In order to safely clear the rocks below, the divers needed to push a good six metres out while at the same time not getting too visually distracted by the rock wall on the opposite side. Precision on aiming and angling was key to finding the landing spot between two rocks.
“I think honestly one of the trickiest parts is committing to the take-off, because you've got this wall right in front of you and although you won’t hit it, you really got to commit as you will come close,” explains Colturi. “So staring at it and launching out all the way, giving yourself a full push all the way to clear that ledge and in the desired spot getting between these two rocks. It’s definitely doable, but nerve-racking.”
The American is known for his mindblowing stunts as his dive from a parachute into Lake Lucerne, Switzerland in 2018 proves. Preparation is fundamental when approaching new territory. “When you start to talk about these things with the other divers you get the pragmatism and the rational look from all the angles. It’s safe and smart to do those things in the lead up to the first attempt.”
While the roof of the cave fell many hundreds of years ago leaving a big opening straight to the sea, it took the cliff divers a couple of deep breaths and belief in their skills to push themselves off the rocks and into the abyss.
“It's never easy to dive into a cave as it's very bright outside and very dark inside. This contrast is very complicated because you don't see the surface of the water. So you have to estimate exactly how close or far the water is, if not it's very dangerous. If you consider all these elements the dive is really complicated,” Duque points out.
What a time to be alive!
“Apart from this, it is very exciting to find these kinds of spots in nature, places that are very close to the city but at the same time very far and difficult to access. Having the opportunity to take advantage of this kind of place is just unbelievable.”
And it was not just one launch point this elite group of athletes explored during an intense day in and outside the Cave of Light – a name inspired by the reflections of sunlight that illuminate the whole cave, especially under the midday sun, creating a stunning blue glow. They each picked different spots.
Australia’s high-diving superstar, Rhiannan Iffland, sums up the experience: “What a time to be alive!”
“This trip felt very special,” agrees Hunt. “The fact that we were a small group of divers far away from the stress of competition and in such a special place. We were just all bouncing off each other. Everyone choosing a different place to dive from. It was a special time.”
While the trip to the Cave of Light shed a completely different light on the party capital of Europe, the cliff diving elite will shift their focus to competition and north to Oslo, Norway where the second stop of the 2021 Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series will take place on August 14.