The Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series came to the Aran Islands this month, and we’re still not sure what was more spectacular – the twisting dives or the fascinating natural pool they dived into. Michael Nesdale reports.
As names go The Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series is pretty descriptive. The freestyle dive competition (bellyflops are a serious no-no here) takes places in iconic locations around the world. When they came to Ireland they needed somewhere iconic. Somewhere, wow. Somewhere…ah you get my meaning. They settled on the jagged, vertigo inducing coastline of Inis Mór in the Aran islands. More specifically the divers were defying death and pink belly off Serpent’s Lair (Poll na Peist), a naturally occurring rock formation that fishermen call a ‘blowhole’. Its near-perfect rectangle shape makes an extraordinary sight.
The Serpent’s Lair is one of those places you only hear stories about, says Orlando Duque. The nine-time and current champion Orlando Duque is known as (you’re going to love this) “the Duke of Dive”. Duque came to Inis Mór in 2009 for a photo shoot, thought it was amazing and canvassed hard for the location to be included on the world series.
It was. And, not that they’ll care, I’d like to send a virtual high five to whoever had the casting vote.
But back to the diving.
The commentator of events on the day, Paidi O’Lionaird, described the Serpent’s Lair as Nature’s first Olympic-sized swimming pool with opening hours operating on a strictly tidal basis. He explained that when the tide is in, the pool covers over when water overflows from above and below. For the purposes of swimming or diving, the tide must be out.
Duque and ten other brave souls twisted, turned and somersaulted their way into the water – and you can see the results in the video and images below. They’re diving from heights of 23m to 28m, hitting the surface of the water at around 100km/h.
Need we say, do not try this at home.