This unfortunate delay results from a significant water quality concern in the Waitematā Harbour. A significant rupture in a vital sewer line has caused the emergence of a substantial sinkhole, leading to the postponement of this remarkable event.
As a result of this, the local iwi has placed a rāhui over the harbour which prohibits water activity until it is deemed safe. Together with the authorities in Auckland, the new date was confirmed for the last Sunday in January to ensure the best and safest conditions for the public and divers.
While these events are beyond anyone’s control, the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series has made it a priority to give athletes the opportunity to compete for the overall title, permanent spots for season 15 and the remaining qualifying spots for the wildcard positions, so cancelling the event was never an option.
“It’s a fair way to close the season”, sports director Orlando Duque states. “As unusual as this situation is from a sports point of view, the decision for this date was also made considering the athletes’ preparation and rest periods. The postponement to the end of January means they now have a few weeks to recover physically and mentally before they start building up again for the crowning of the 2023 Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series overall champions and then focus on a strong 2024 season.”
The final event of the current calendar 20 weeks after the previous stop will certainly go down in the Red Bull Cliff Diving history books as the longest break between two competitions in the same season.
With two title fights still to be settled, as well as an exciting battle for permanent places on next season’s tour, it has all the ingredients for a thrilling finale.
For the first time since 2017, a brand new men’s World Series champion will be crowned. Romanian diver Constantin Popovici has a 133-point lead over British prodigy Aidan Heslop ahead of the final. However, given wildcard Carlos Gimeno’s spectacular victory in Mostar, placing the Spaniard third in the current world rankings, and Heslop’s ability to master enormous Degree of Difficulty in his dives, it will not be an easy task for Popovici in his last bid of 2023 for the King Kahekili trophy.
In the women’s competition, Canada’s Molly Carlson and Rhiannan Iffland from Australia are the top two divers in contention for the overall win. Carlson has been the only female diver to shake the six-time champion’s dominating consistency in the World Series this season, snatching the win at the last stop in September in Mostar, and breaking Iffland’s dominating streak that spanned unbeatable performances across two seasons. Iffland’s consistent powerful and precise performances could secure her 7th King Kahekili trophy. Carlson has also demonstrated courage, calm, and consistency under pressure, with one last chance remaining.
Red Bull Cliff Diving Auckland will take place across two days in Wynyard Quarter starting on Saturday, 27 January 2024 with the finale on Sunday, 28 January 2024. Spectators can expect two days of entertainment and an unforgettable spectacle of some of the best cliff-diving talent in the world.
Standings (after 5 of 6 stops)
1- Rhiannan Iffland AUS – 990pts.
2- Molly Carlson CAN – 860
3- Xantheia Pennisi AUS – 440
4- Eleanor Smart USA – 437
5- Meili Carpenter USA – 436
1- Constantin Popovici ROU – 832pts.
2- Aidan Heslop GBR – 699
3- Carlos Gimeno (W) ESP – 573
4- Catalin Preda ROU – 528
5- Gary Hunt FRA – 442
Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series
The launch of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series in 2009 marked the beginning of a new era for this pure and captivating sport. The world’s best cliff divers have been part of this extraordinary journey taking the sport to new levels of performance and perfection, creativity and courage, adrenaline and adventure.
At every single stop in 2023, 12 women and 12 men will showcase their aesthetic abilities during a two-day event to impress the international judges panel and make the spectators’ jaws drop in not just the brand new locations. Each single dive is up to 27 meters high, 85 kmh fast and hardly three seconds long – three irrevocable facts that the athletes counter with physical and mental mastery in their quest for the glorious King Kahekili Trophy.
From remote places to urban spots, seas, rivers, calm and wild waters, the uniqueness of each dive site adds to the magic of these unparalleled sporting competitions watched by thousands of spectators on site or on screen. Six stops will define the overall champions in the 14th season of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series.
Words & Images courtesy of Red Bull Diving