Above is the entrance to the port of La Rochelle. Built in the 1300's. the entrance to this 14th-century port was defended by two massive towers each with their own purpose.
On the left is the pentagonal, Saint-Nicholas Tower, which stood as the fortress equipped with a barracks and super-fortified walls to prevent a blistering attack.
Opposite the tower stands the Tower de la Chaîne; (Tower of the Chain), so named because at night a large, forged-iron, chain, was stretched across the harbor like a "close line" so as to prevent hostile warships from entering.
Circa 2010, Red Bull, had the bright idea to put the structure to better use: A platform was built some 27-meters above the water and divers from all over the world were challenged to see who could pull of the best dives.
On paper 27-meters does not sound all that high but 27-meters has some interesting statistics and physics connected to it. 27-meters is is almost 90-feet high or as high as a 9-story building. Leaping off a platform that high, the user will reach "freeway speeds" or 62-miles per hour before slamming in the water in less than 2-seconds.
But the athletes said it better:
Artem Silchenko: “...No matter how fit your body is, you cannot dive from 27 metres with a mind that’s not ready,” Russian Artem Silchenko cuts the complex going-ons in the divers’ minds down to a simple explanation. “A lot happens up here,” Australian Steve Black says, pointing to his head, “mainly because of the fact that we don’t have a place where we can train off 26 or 27 metres. The whole idea is to keep your body in shape as much as you can. Up here is the thinking part of the rest of the dive. You do train, but only on 10 metres and the rest of it happens in the mind.” Before athletes like the 43-year-old world champion from 2008 attempt the actual dive they have already performed it mentally a hundred times. Why? “Because you have to know what you are going to do and what it is going to feel like,” explains Gary Hunt, runner-up of the series’ 2009 edition.
Kent De Mond: “... By the time I step onto the platform the only thing I’m thinking of is just the start, not even the flips. My mind already knows how to do it.” For Kent De Mond (USA) this natural ability to learn and train a dive on a mental basis is something that makes the difference between a good diver and an exceptional diver and is essential in high diving. One who has nine world championship titles to underline his talent is Orlando Duque from Colombia: “I have been in the sport for a long time and we have to deal with a lot of difficult situations, difficult locations and tough competitions. The physical part is always there; you are always strong when you do your preparation. But you have to deal with that mental thing. If I know I am diving today, I am going to be fit. I know it. If I show up here today to dive, I am fit to dive. Mentally and physically; otherwise I wouldn’t come.” Mental readiness makes the step to the edge of a 27.50m platform possible but the hand-picked dozen divers in the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series go one stage further, as Silchenko’s explanation shows: “One or two seconds before I go, my body is still there but my brain is already flying.”
I would say those thoughts and feelings fit with the company's adrenal brand, wouldn't you?
This is the second time Red Bull has had the competition at La Rochelle and the crowds were huge and appreciative. Next stop with be cliff diving in Mexico.
Results from the Red Bull site:
RESULTS STOP 1, LA ROCHELLE
1. Gary Hunt | GBR | 390,10 points
2. Orlando Duque | COL | 369,30 points
3. Kent De Mond | USA | 328,25 points
4. Artem Silchenko | RUS | 309,00 points
5. Steve Black | AUS | 299,80 points
6. Slava Polyeshchuk | UKR | 290,40 points
7. Cyrille Oumedjkane | FRA | 181,20 points
8. Hassan Mouti | FRA |180,60 points
9. Alain Kohl | LUX | 171,60 points
10. Eber Pava | COL | 170,60 points
11. Michal Navratil | CZE | 162,15 points
12. Andrey Ignatenko | UKR | 86,40 points
For details about Red Bull platform diving: [Link]