Canada's Lysanne Richard stole an early march on her rivals in the women's competition on the first day of action in Polignano a Mare, with wildcard Rhiannan Iffland 11 points back in second and Mexican Adriana Jimenez in third. In the men's event, Pole Kris Kolanus once again had a blazing start and stamped his position as first round front-runner. Americans Steven LoBue and Andy Jones are second and third-placed respectively, but Brit Gary Hunt struggled with his opening dive and sits in 13th position heading into Sunday's final rounds.
Most of the focus in the build-up to this event had been on Iffland, who has been the surprise package of the season and is aiming for a hat-trick of wins this weekend. But mum of three, Richard, proved with her opening two dives from 21.5m here on the Adriatic coast that her second-place finish in the Portuguese Azores was no fluke.
"Good crowd, good people, good weather," said the 34-year-old. "My goal for here is to do my best dive of the competition tomorrow."
With only 11 points separating the two women, it looks like an exciting final round is in store on Sunday afternoon.
Having finished second in Copenhagen and just missed out on the podium in La Rochelle, men's wildcard Kolanus has another top-three finish firmly in his sights after a delicious display of first round diving. Cheered on once again by his girlfriend and fellow cliff diver, Anna Bader, the Pole is proving to be a really consistent performer this season.
"I really like it here," said Kolanus, "the water is warm, the crowd is amazing and the atmosphere gets hotter and hotter. In terms of goals, I do have some plans of course. Physically I can do a new dive, but I'll wait for a good moment. This may be here, but also could be somewhere else."
Andy Jones, runner-up in the last two events, will be wondering if he can go one better and claim his first ever victory in the place he says he belongs, "minus the sunburn". The tall American has nestled himself nicely into third place with three final rounds to go, and Hunt's poor start may just give him the confidence to start dreaming of glory.
"I'll keep doing what I'm doing," explained Jones, "just hitting those bottoms. I'll focus on the take-off and the beginning of the dive, once that's over I'll just dial in on the entry."
But it would be foolish to rule the 'brilliant Brit' out so early on, especially considering his thundering comeback in France, where he rose from 12th position after two rounds to take a sensational victory in the Bay of Biscay.
"I want to be on top of that podium," said a confident Hunt. "I didn't start very well today, but I think I can come back. It has happened to me before – starting off on the back foot, but tomorrow is another day."
Once more, the stage is set for a thrilling finale in both the men's and women's competitions on Sunday. Beautiful weather and a stunning location will also play a part in what is sure to be another memorable afternoon in the biggest and most challenging World Series to date.
In the place where houses rise from the rocks, heroes will again rise from the 21.5m and 27m platforms.
Men's standings after Round 1:
1. Kris Kolanus (W) (POL) - 121.90 pts
2. Steven LoBue (USA) – 117.30
3. Andy Jones (USA) – 112.70
4. Alain Kohl (W) (LUX) – 107.50
5. Jonathan Paredes (MEX) – 105.35
6. Blake Aldridge (GBR) – 103.50
6. David Colturi (USA) – 103.50
6. Alessandro De Rose (W) (ITA) 103.50
9. Sergio Guzman (MEX) – 103.20
10. Orlando Duque (COL) – 98.90
11. Artem Silchenko (RUS) – 96.60
12. Igor Semashko (W) (RUS) 90.20
13. Gary Hunt (GBR) – 82.80
14. Jorge Ferzuli (W) (MEX) – 74.00
Women's standings after Round 2:
1. Lysanne Richard (CAN) – 152.20 pts
2. Rhiannan Iffland (W) (AUS) – 141.00
3. Adriana Jimenez (MEX) – 132.90
4. Ginger Huber (USA) – 128.40
5. Rachelle Simpson (USA) – 123.50
6. Helena Merten (AUS) – 121.35
7. Cesilie Carlton (USA) – 114.40
8. Iris Schmidbauer (W) (GER) – 76.40
Watch it Live
This event will be LIVE on August 28 from 1.50 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 8am (ET) on September 25.