Always Land Feet First

Cliff diving meets wakeboarding

World Series leader Steven LoBue met Irish professional wakeboarder David O'Caimoh to discuss the similarities and differences between their water focussed disciplines

It doesn't take long before both professional athletes reach an agreement about the first similarity – aerial awareness. "I think if you're looking from outside in on both sports, wakeboarding and cliff diving, the first thing you notice is that you have to have a some sort of aerial awareness, obviously he is up in the air flipping around, twisting around, which is absolutely what we are doing," explains spin master LoBue as O'Caimoh contributes: "You also add in that you have got to have a strong core, and I think the biggest thing is you always want to land feet first."

It's the number of twists and spins that differentiates the two sports. While a cliff diver can perform up to five somersaults in less than 3 seconds, for a wakeboarder two flips with one full twist is already extremely impressive. "A wakeboarder has to be able to keep those smaller flips and twists up, over a ten line run; you have to do all these tricks in a row for a whole line and so consistency for them is equally as important," LoBue is impressed, and in awe of the board sport.

On the other hand, the 4-time European Wakeboard Champion sees a huge advantage in his sport when it comes to learning a new trick. Steven explains that a cliff diver needs to go back to basics in the pool, breaking the dive down into three different segments to learn and master a new trick. In addition to that, they have to deal with the mental game in order to be able to piece everything together and be strong and ready for diving from the 27m platform. As David remarks, it is a little easier for him in that wakeboarders can 'cheat'. "We can slow the boat down or slow the cable down so the impact is less, whereas with cliff diving you just have to go. From 27m you can't slow down, you're still hitting that water at 80 km/h, so I think we have a bit of an advantage in wakeboarding," he boasts.

One thing you can count on following aerial manoeuvres in both sports is the impact upon the water. Cliff divers always aim for a rip entry, a slice through the water with no splash. As David explains, the impact on water for wakeboarders is a little different, "The idea is, you come with a lot of forward moving speed, and instead of landing and going through the water you want to try to glide on the water. An airplane landing is my best way of describing it."

The point David makes about gliding on the water is the aspect of wakeboarding that fascinates Steve: "I enjoy the feeling of gliding across the water. It is very different than staring down at the water from a really great height, so yeah it always feels good to be floating on water. I grew up skateboarding so there is still this little bit of influence and style, which I really dig."

24-year-old David has also had his first taste of cliff diving and is eager to step up game: "I did 8m recently, but I would go to 15m next if someone will allow me to do it." Steve, are you up for that?