Sunday, May 16, 2010

Red Bull had an idea: "Let's find some crazy platform divers and challenge them to dive off the Saint Nicholas Tower in, La Rochelle, France...."

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 ChaƮne; (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:


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]


Anonymous said...

Actually, the falling time it's a little greater than 2 seconds. Without air resistence it would be about 2.3 seconds [=sqrt(27*2/9.8)], thus one should expect something over that figure.


Tony Austin said...


32-feet during the first second. And an additional 64-feet added at the end of the next second.

that's 96-feet versus 88.58 feet and air drag.

I am usually wrong so what am I missing?

Anonymous said...

Let's see:

x = (1/2) g t*t

First second: x(1s) = g/2 1*1= 16 feet

Between 1s and 2s,

x(2s)-x(1s) = (1/2) g (2*2 - 1*1) = (3/2) g = 48 feet

Total: 54 feet, approx. 18 meters.

But you can calculate t in just one step:

t = SQRT(height * 2 / g) = SQRT(88 * 2 / 32) approx 2.35 seconds

You know what shoud we do? Look for the videos on youtube and take the tame with a stop watch.


Anonymous said...

I timed about 20 divings, and got times between 2.4 and 2.7 seconds. Estimated average, 2.6 s.


Tony Austin said...

Wow! That was awesome and ambitious! Do you work for Batman or something?

Scott said...

"On paper 27-meters does not sound all that high but 27-meters has some interesting statistics and physics connected to it."

Personally I've never been able to do a proper headfirst dive off a 'mere' five metre platform despite thinking myself as rather brave. But for me to dive from a height more than five times that would be suicidal. Probably literally so. After all the Golden Gate Bridge is 'only' 67 metres above water at high tide. I still vividly remember pubbing in London with my sister and during the course of casual conversation telling a pair of Americans hot to get into my sister's pants that our family's flat was some 240 square metres - only to then be regaled about the grand size of their decidedly dinky hotel room in some two star dive. Why do Americans openly flaunt their ignorance when everyone else takes pains to conceal theirs?

Tony Austin said...

Even though I once rock climbed as a hobby, I have a fear of heights and just stepping onto the platform would make my legs go weak, my chest tighten and would I start shaking with adrenaline.

So to your question "...Why do Americans openly flaunt their ignorance when everyone else takes pains to conceal theirs?..."

Maybe it's called honesty?

United Payment Services said...

Like seeing other people diving and not myself