Whether you're new to Red Bull Cliff Diving or a seasoned fan, this 7-part Deep Dive series, with Gary Hunt, Orlando Duque and Rhiannan Iffland will immerse you into every aspect of one of the world's most fascinating sports. Over these two weeks, all episodes will be released here along with a story related to each title.
Watch Episode 4: The Perfect Entry above, and read on below to find out more.
In aviation, they say that taking off and landing are the most critical stages of flight. They are the crucial moments when pilots really earn their money, and for cliff divers it's a similar story. Spreading their wings from heights of up to 27m, they must then guide their bodies through 3 seconds of acrobatic flight, before safely touching down in the water at speeds of up to 80 km/h. Just one small mistake upon entry can result in a huge hit, both to the body and the scores.
For those who follow Red Bull Cliff Diving, the sound of expert commentator Joey Zuber excitedly proclaiming, "and that is what you call a rip entry!" is a familiar one. It means a diver has successfully completed their mid-air manoeuvres and immersed themselves into the water with barely a bit of splash. The word 'rip', of course, comes from the sound the body makes as it slices perfectly into the lake, river or ocean below. It's similar to the sound of paper being torn, and it is music to the ears of the divers, the commentators and, most importantly, the judges.
"The entry is the final part of the dive," explains Colombian cliff diving legend, Orlando Duque. "Everything already happened in the air and now it's the final moment. Ideally very little splash, hopefully in a very vertical position and that means it's a successful dive."
It sounds simple enough, but with the amount of complexity that athletes pack into those 3 seconds of freefall these days, it's nothing less than stunning how they straighten up their bodies in the final few milliseconds for a perfectly perpendicular entry. And, in most cases, it wouldn't be possible without a secret little weapon they have in their pocket - the barani.
For divers, the barani manoeuvre is undoubtedly the most important part of the dive besides the take-off. It is essentially one forward somersault with half a twist and is used in cliff diving as opposed to regular 10-metre diving, where the athletes hit the water head-first. The barani is the perfect control mechanism that allows the divers to hit the water safely.
"The barani is really where you control the dive," says England's Blake Aldridge, who made the move from the 10m platform to cliff diving following the 2008 Olympics. "Obviously from the platform we initiate all our somersaults and twists, which is what you see at the start of the dives. Then there comes a point when you finish all your tricks and you've got so much momentum, you have to come out and fly and control the barani.
"For me, this has been the hardest transition of learning from Olympic diving to cliff diving. Being able to come out and land on your feet as opposed to 25 years of landing on my head. It's a massive part of the dive and it's the only real way to control things. It's where you get your points, it's what is being judged. And if you can't control the barani, you can't control the entry. So to become consistent, you need a good barani."
So, they've nailed the take-off, packed in a few elegant twists and spins and lined up for entry with a perfect barani. Now for the moment of impact. How does it feel to really rip the water?
"Most of the time when it is a good entry it hurts," says Australia's Rhiannan Iffland. "You are that tight in it, and so tense going through. Usually you have a sense underwater of how the entry has gone, but you don't actually know. Because you can do a perfect entry and it still pulls you around under the water and it still hurts a lot. It's nice to have all those feelings and then everything just goes silent as you slice through the water. It's such a cool feeling to do a proper vertically deep entry."
If anyone knows how to rip a dive, it's Mexico's Jonathan Paredes. His immaculate entries into the water over the years have earned him the nickname 'ripmaster', and he somewhat echoes Iffland's thoughts on the subject:
"Even if you have a good entry, it's going to hurt a little bit," says the 30-year-old. "But the feeling is totally different. It's relief somehow, once you get into the water it's a huge relief. To me, the best feeling comes right after the entry when I see the judges and good scores, that's the best feeling."
As nervous flyers will often admit, nothing beats that sense of joy and relief when their plane touches down safely on the runway. For cliff divers, it's clear that the perfect entry stirs up the same emotions.