Since 2009, the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series has been the ultimate test of sporting skill and aerobatic artistry, as divers launch from a platform up to 27m from iconic buildings, gorges, cliff faces and even historic bridges. These amazing athletes perform spectacular and intricate dives into calm rivers and choppy azure seas, all within the three or so seconds it takes before they impact the water at up to 5Gs.
In both the men's and women’s categories, the ultimate prize at the season’s close is the coveted King Kahekili Trophy. This year, 24 elite divers are preparing to take their sport to the next level across six high-stakes events, including the debut of two brand-new locations for 2023.
New stops and iconic locations
The new season launches against the skyline of one of America’s oldest cities, Boston, serving up a familiar yet iconic opener in June, as cliff diving returns for a second time to the striking waterfront location. Last season, the Boston opener witnessed a shake-up when the UK’s Aidan Heslop and Canada’s Molly Carlson set the tone for one of the most exciting seasons in cliff diving history.
A second stop in June will bring the cliff diving action back to Paris and the banks of the Seine River in Port Debilly. With the diving platform framed by an elegant cityscape and the world-famous Eiffel Tower, spectators will be able to see the athletes go all-in in the heart of the French capital.
July sees the return of cliff diving to the beautiful Puglia town of Polignano a Mare in Italy – the home of European cliff diving - for the 10th year since 2009. Expect high drama from up to 27m, set against picture-perfect beach coves and an azure Adriatic Sea.
August opens with a brand new cliff diving location, also marking the midway point in the 2023 season calendar, with Takachiho in Japan adding a fresh dimension to the fight for the coveted King Kahekili trophies. The stunning Takachiho Gorge, deep into the mountains of Miyazaki prefecture in Kyushu, sets a truly spectacular scene for the season’s fourth instalment, seven years since the cliff diving elite made their one and only visit to the Land of the Rising Sun.
The countdown to the crowning of the titleholders starts in September when the divers return to Mostar in Bosnia & Herzegovina. On three previous occasions, Stari Most has hosted the season’s penultimate stop and has proven a pivotal point, where one great dive or poor mistake can decide titles.
The last stop on the 2023 calendar takes place in yet another brand new location as cliff diving descends on Auckland, New Zealand, in November for its big finale, where the King Kahekili Trophy will be awarded to the best female and male high divers of the year.
The 2023 calendar
How to watch
Polignano a Mare, Italy
Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Auckland, New Zealand
Meet the cliff divers
Twelve male and 12 female athletes are expected to start each event during the Red Bull Cliff Diving 2023 season, with eight men and women confirmed in the permanent line-up. The rest of the field will be buoyed with up to four wildcards per category.
The 14th season welcomes a new generation of permanent cliff divers as three new athletes will freshen up the roster. If you watched the diving action last year, you might recognize the new faces in the permanent line-up – former wildcards Meili Carpenter (USA), James Lichtenstein (USA) and Miguel Garcia (Colombia) will prepare for their first-ever fully-fledged season alongside the world’s best.
Permanent divers (women)
- Rhiannan Iffland (AUS)
- Molly Carlson (CAN)
- Eleanor Smart (USA)
- Xantheia Pennisi (AUS)
- Jessica Macaulay (CAN)
- Meili Carpenter (USA)
- Iris Schmidbauer (GER)
- Yana Nestsiarava (IAT)
Permanent divers (men)
- Gary Hunt (FRA)
- Aidan Heslop (GBR)
- Catalin Preda (ROU)
- Constantin Popovici (ROU)
- Alessandro De Rose (ITA)
- Nikita Fedotov (IAT)
- James Lichtenstein (USA)
- Miguel Garcia (COL)
Listen to the podcast below to hear how Australian cliff-diving sensation Rhiannan Iffland overcomes fear every time she dives.
What what down in 2022
Confidence, a reticent calm and consistency coupled with artistic integrity were the mainstays of the men’s category in 2022, as the divers leapt, swooped and somersaulted through seven stunning locations that brought their own unique set of competitive challenges. There was a clear domino effect as each diver tested their own personal limits, pushing the athletes to produce high-scoring dives, with the mounting pressure for the title win producing numerous perfect 10 scores throughout the season.
By the penultimate stop in Italy, the permutations for the title holder were growing as every twist, turn, tuck, somersault and pike had to be executed to absolute perfection. The closer the three title contenders - France’s Gary Hunt, British diver Aiden Heslop and Romanian shark Catalin Preda – came to clutching the title, the more they appeared to thrive, throwing down sensational somersaults and amping up the degree of difficulty for some show-stopping aerial performances.
In the end, it was Hunt who secured a record-extending 10th Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series title at a thrilling season showdown in Sydney, Australia, and the Frenchman will once again start the new season as the firm favorite.
In the women’s competition, raw talent, formidable discipline and a quiet assurance on the platform shone throughout the field, with the sport’s most experienced divers down to wildcards like Meili Carpenter hammering down huge dives.
Rhiannan Iffland, the sport’s most decorated athlete, once again was the composed, dominating force, with her stellar record of consistent brilliance only dented by Canada’s Molly Carlson in the season opener. As Iffland’s main challenger, Carlson’s positivity, dynamic style and flair was unrelenting throughout the season. But it was the Australian, energized by the crowd amongst the swells and waves of penultimate stop Polignano a Mare, who went on to lock in a sixth consecutive title in 2022 and remains the diver to beat this year in the women’s category.
Watch highlights from the final stop of the 2022 season in the video below.
Best moments from Sydney
The Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series arrived in Australia. Watch the best action from Sydney.
How the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series works
In every season since 2009, the athletes competing in the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series have pushed their sport to new limits. Each diver performs at a one, two or three-day event in front of an international jury, bringing together optimal physical skill, mental discipline and focus, to execute dives judged on creativity, acrobatic prowess and athletic ability at incredible speeds of up to 85kph.
Each diver must perform at least one dive during the competition to be included in the final result, judged by five international jurors. The dive is scored on take-off, position in the air and entry in the water, with the three intermediate scores multiplied by the degree of difficulty for each dive. The winners are then declared - the diver with the highest point total at each individual stop after four dives.
Ultimately, big points mean big prizes. Every dive and every event stop counts in the fight for the King Kahekili trophies, with the points from each competition tallied for the divers' Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series Rankings.
How to watch the Red Bull Cliff Diving Series
From remote locations to urban skylines and azure seas, the uniqueness of each dive site adds to the magic of these unparalleled sporting competitions.
If you want to witness the awe-inspiring action in person, register to join thousands of spectators on-site at any of the seven unique and glorious locations throughout the 14th season in 2023. If you can't be there in person, don't worry, we have you covered as there will be live streams available to watch on Red Bull TV.
Download the free Red Bull TV app and watch unmissable action on all your devices!
Part of this story