Title Hopefuls Tune Up at Mexico's 'El Arco'

David Colturi
Paredes and Colturi make final preparations in bid to topple 6-time champion

A summit of a particular nature took place where the Gulf of California meets the Pacific Ocean: cliff divers Jonathan Paredes of Mexico and America's David Colturi dived at the famous Arch of Cabo San Lucas. With their aesthetic dives from 24m into the ocean, the athletes joined forces and flexed their muscles towards the 6-time champion Gary Hunt from England prior to the most unpredictable season in Red Bull Cliff Diving history. Ever since they qualified for the World Series in 2012, they've been battling side by side and are aiming for the 2017 overall title under the most contrasting pre-conditions: one as 2016's runner-up and the other returning from a gnarly injury.

In awe of the beauty of the natural rock formation also known as 'lands end', the 27-year-old 'style master' pulled off a series of immaculate dives and proved to be ready to better his personal best from the previous season. "It's my first time here in Cabo San Lucas. This place is amazing for cliff diving," says the runner-up from 2016, "I'm super happy to be back in Mexico."

Born and bred in Mexico City, Paredes lives and trains mainly in his wife's hometown Madrid, Spain, but returns to his roots on a regular basis to recharge and make use of the country's natural cliffs like the ones in Cabo San Lucas. With the 2017 World Series only 5 weeks away, the preparation for dives from up to 27m and impacts of 85km/h is mostly about fine-tuning what has been worked on during the off-season. "I tried a new dive a couple of weeks ago, which I've been working on from 10m all winter and I'm going to give my best this year for sure," explains the diving perfectionist, "my expectations are bigger than last year. I want to fight for the title again, against Gary. I'm ready for the season."

Jonathan Paredes launches himself from the rocks at the famous Arch of Cabo San Lucas. Photo: Mauricio Ramos Vázquez-Mellado/Red Bull Content Pool.

L.A. based Colturi on the other hand, spent most of his winter with rehab training after he had to withdraw from the World Series and undergo shoulder surgery last October. His comeback is planned right down to the last detail and does not leave room for doubts – the 28-year-old twist master is committed to step it up again. "I really focused and changed my game plan. I was working smarter and harder in a lot of situations, trying to dial back the numbers but dial up the intensity and the focus on the mental aspects of it," states the 8-time podium finisher, "I feel like this is going to be my biggest and best season and I need it coming off of a not so great 2016."

The shoulder injury is a distant memory for David Colturi as he majestically swoops down toward the water. Photo: Dean Treml/Red Bull Content Pool.

For both athletes the cliff dives into crystal clear water from the graceful limestone arch emerging from a white sandy beach, a popular hangout for sea lions, served as a confidence booster. Colturi explains: "It's huge to get some experience cliff diving before the competitions actually start. Any chance you get to be up above the normal training heights of 10 and 12m is invaluable experience. To put yourself up that high and take the impacts from that height and trying to fly and control through the air is something that really gets you ready for the first competitions of the year."

Men on a mission - Colturi and Paredes will be two of the main contenders in the 2017 title battle. Photo: Dean Treml/Red Bull Content Pool.

From Cabo San Lucas on the southern tip of the Baja California, the athletes travel to Inis Mór off Ireland's west coast. The mysterious blowhole of Serpent's Lair hosts the first of six competitions to define the new champions in the men's and the women's. This is where Paredes and Colturi will start chasing down the record winner Hunt.

Watch Live from Inis Mór

This event will be LIVE on June 24 from 12.00 local time (11.00 GMT) on www.redbullcliffdiving.com, Red Bull TV and Facebook. 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.