What goes through divers’ minds when they jump off a 28-meter platform in front of thousands of onlookers? Are their ears full of the wind whipping around, or do they hear the crowd below?
Maybe they hear their heart pounding, but one thing’s for sure: Spectators will be holding their breath as 14 men and eight women demonstrate their diving prowess when they leap from iconic Hell’s Gate at Possum Kingdom Lake on their first stop of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series 2016.
For anyone who’s gotten the itch to jump from the top of Hell’s Gate at Possum Kingdom Lake, about 150 miles west of Dallas, now’s your chance to see how the pros do it. Texas native and world champion Rachelle Simpson will be among the divers to participate in the competition, which starts in North Texas on June 4 and continues on to eight other utterly stunning locales across the globe, including Copenhagen, the Azores, and Dubai.
But San Antonio-born Simpson isn’t the only diver guaranteed to make a splash in June. Gary Hunt, who hails from the U.K., will be making an appearance once again this year. Hunt is the only diver who has competed in all 50 World Series stops, winning half of them. Together, the pair of champs and their competitors are sure to put on a fantastic show.
Considered the oldest extreme sport in the world, cliff diving dates back to Hawaii in the 18th century, and its popularity speaks to its universal appeal. It’s pretty hardcore, and most divers agree that they have to break the water, or else the water will break them.
Diving from 28 meters up is like diving from the top of an eight-story building. Hitting water from that height — if done improperly — is similar to hitting concrete. All that danger and the incredible skill of the athletes combines for an exciting, fun-filled day.
This year, Red Bull celebrates 50 stops over the past seven years, and each year, the stakes are higher. With incredible dives that include series like five forward somersaults with a half twist pike, or a flying reverse somersault with pike, the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series is a must-see. And we get to enjoy it right in our backyard — no passport required.
The Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series 2016 kicks off June 4 at 11 am at Hell’s Gate and is scheduled until 4:15 pm.