One of the world’s most spectacular sporting events is coming to Dubai, as the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series makes its UAE debut.
The world’s finest exponents of this most gravity-defying of disciplines will gather in the Dubai Marina on Friday October 28 for the final round of the series, which began in Possum Kingdom Lake, Texas, back in June.
Since then, the athletes have crossed the globe, diving at some stunning locations, witnessed by a growing band of fans.
But all eyes are now on the series finale, with the intrepid competitors set to leap off Pier 7, landing in the water at speeds of around 85kph – and all after performing an array of flips and twists in a bid to impress the judges.
One athlete who is particularly looking forward to coming to Dubai is Orlando Duque, the legendary Colombian who won the first-ever series back in 2009.
“I’m really excited to be going there,” he tells Time Out. “Every time we go to a new location it’s a completely different situation for all the divers and that, in a way, makes the competition more interesting. We have to adapt to the new conditions really quickly, having only one day of practice before we start with the first round of competition.”
Cliff diving is certainly a niche sport in the UAE, but Duque is positive that once spectators see their exploits in the Marina, they will spread the word and help increase exposure. He is also hopeful that after the Pier 7 event there might be a few athletes from these shores joining the tour soon.
“If that were to happen, it would be the best,” he adds. “To get cliff diving included in the Olympics we will need as many national federations as possible. I know the country has some great facilities for diving so it’s possible that in the near future we could have some divers from the UAE.”
Duque and his rivals, including five-time champion Gary Hunt, will be leaping into the unknown, somewhat, and the Colombian feels this could be a great leveller.
“It’s hard to make any assessments without having seen the location,” he says.
“I know from experience that when diving into flat water, for me at least, the impact feels really heavy. The only thing is that all the divers will be in the same situation.”
And Duque believes the pure spectacle of the competition should mean fans head down to Dubai Marina in their droves. Apart from Cargo and Ocacti, from whose terraces competitors will dive, it is expected to be business as usual for other Pier 7 outlets, and those in the area with views of the action.
“It’s such a fun competition to watch,” he adds. “Live, you can really appreciate the speed of the fall, the sound of the impact and also be really close to all the divers. The atmosphere is great, too.”
If you’re still not sure about witnessing the spectacle, go to www.redbull.tv for some incredible footage of previous stages.