It was the launch point for the first-ever stop in 2009 and will once again be the lynchpin for the world's cliff diving elite for the sixth time in eight years of the series this weekend. And it is here in this daunting venue in the Bay of Biscay where the eight winners of at least one of the 53 individual stops to date are present. Seven of them are still part of the athletes' line-up in 2016 and will be fighting for victory from 27m this Saturday.
The winner of the inaugural competition from the medieval Saint Nicolas Tower, Andrey Ignatenko from the Ukraine, is the only one who's retired from cliff diving and is part of the judges' panel here in France. The 52-year-old, famous for only diving from the actual height during competition, has one victory to his name. 27 World Series victories – three of them in its French birthplace – make Gary Hunt, who comes to La Rochelle as the season's current leader, the most decorated athlete.
The Brit is eager to make it a hat-trick of victories in his adopted home in front of a record breaking crowd. "It's absolutely a classic. The special quality here in La Rochelle is the people! You stand on this platform and you want to do your best for them. The view from the top of the platform is phenomenal on competition day. It makes it all worth it. Even with bad results, everyone leaves the competition with a smile on their face", explains the five-time overall winner, "I will do everything in my power to make it my fourth win here. I feel physically the strongest I've been and it's a bit of a gamble with my new dive. If it pays off, then I'm going to be far ahead of the pack, but if it doesn't pay off, I might not be on the podium. It's a worthy gamble and I'm willing to play."
In the course of the last seven years, Colombia's legendary Orlando Duque, overall winner in 2009, has decided eight and Artem Silchenko ten competitions in their favour. Besides Ignatenko and Hunt, the Russian is the third diver who's succeeded in the World Series' all-time favourite location on the French Atlantic Coast. America's Steven LoBue, the winner of three stops, has earned his very own chapter in this location's history book, as his terrifying head smash from 2015 is still unforgotten.
From the 53 wins that were up for grabs until today, Jonathan Paredes (MEX) has earned two and Great Britain's Blake Aldridge, as well as California-based David Colturi, each have one to their names.
A return to the 'World Series classic' in La Rochelle, France, means more superlatives than simply the biggest number of spectators, as the former defence tower of Saint Nicolas is also the most intimidating spot in the entire competition; and it is the location's one-of-a-kind atmosphere when 75,000 people are hushed for the three-second dive and then cheer the resurfacing athlete.
Watch it Live
This event will be LIVE on July 23 from 4.50 PM GMT on www.redbullcliffdiving.com and Red Bull TV. Red Bull TV is available on connected TVs, gaming consoles, mobile devices and more. Find out more at about.redbull.tv
If you miss the event or simply want to watch all the action again, the replay will be available on demand a few minutes after the event.
Note that the live webcast and replay is geo-blocked in the US due to an exclusive broadcast deal with FOX Sports. The event will air on FS1 at 1pm (ET) on August 21.