8.28.2011

man vs. water

Today, water wins. Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene canceled [REUNION] gatherings this morning and kept us inside today. And we have it better than most: no internet outages, no power outages, no flooding.

But last weekend, we watched man conquer water. The Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series included a stop in Boston. Leaps into Boston Harbor from a platform constructed on top of the Institute of Contemporary Art's cantilever wowed more than 23,000 spectators. Including us.

red bull cliff diving

Fox, Ian, and I arrived early to scope out the best vantage point. We started in the risers, where we saw the first practice dives. The ICA cantilever and deck framed out the takeoffs and landings, leaving us with a simple view of men falling from the sky like giant raindrops.

red bull cliff diving

The space around the ICA continued to fill. Even the water was cluttered with boats and kayaks pressing up to the floating line, which cordoned off the diving area.

After the national anthem officially started the event, a member of the Red Bull Air Force parachuted in on a kayak. They called it skyaking.

red bull cliff diving

Halfway through the first round, we worked our way to the edge of the deck to get a better view of the dives in full. With a little patience, we ended up directly below the diving platform. For handstand take offs, legs would appear beyond the platform then vanish again as the diver lifted himself into position.

red bull cliff diving

Growing up, the two summer Olympics events I enjoyed most were gymnastics and diving. The precision and grace with which the divers fall is amazing. Small movements, an arm slightly curved, toes pointed, and they spiral through the air with the beauty of a falling leaf. How can you do so much in three short seconds?

red bull cliff diving

A perfectly executed dive produces only a small circle of bubbling water. This feat is much more astounding to witness in person.

After two rounds, they cut the field to the top six, who would execute one final dive. The still, bright day offered the perfect conditions for the divers to attempt the most complex dives in their repertoires in an effort to land on top.

We cheered for the underdog finalist, Mexican Jorge Ferzuli. We rejoiced with American Kent De Monde (and his large group of supporters, the DeMondsters) after a well executed dive launched him onto the podium. And we gasped at the beauty of British Gary Hunt's series winning dive.

As we made our way to the North End for post-diving cannoli, Fox and Ian discussed how this could set a precedent for hosting more events on the Harbor. I just hope they come back next year.

red bull cliff diving
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