Two title duels are set to reignite in the Land of the Rising Sun as Japan prepares to host the penultimate stop of the 2016 World Series for the first time. In the women's event, Rhiannan Iffland, the surprise rookie from Australia and Canadian Lysanne Richard will resume their thrilling battle while Mexico's Jonathan Paredes will attempt to put the pressure on Gary Hunt as the Brit moves closer to his record-setting 6th title from 28m in the men's competition. Michal Navratil, the current back-to-back winner from the Czech Republic is third in the overall standings and aims at a hat trick of wins in the all-natural setting along the Pacific Ocean.
Only one athlete has yet achieved three consecutive wins in the 2016 season – Gary Hunt, the leader in the overall standings. The 32-year-old Brit is known for clinching his victories with difficulty and impresses the judges with the most complex dives in the World Series; whereas his closest opponent, Jonathan Paredes from Mexico City, ranges on the exact other end of the difficulty scale. The 27-year-old's diving list is the easiest in the whole competition but it's his constantly immaculate form in the air and rip entries which award him high scores. With a strong showing in the season's first stop and three more podium finishes, the Series' 'style master' sits in 2nd position with only two more competitions to come. A Paredes-typical display of dives from the Sandanbeki cliffs can keep the fight for the King Kahekili Trophy - the silk ribbon of cliff diving excellence awarded for the overall victory - open until the year's grand finale at the end of the month.
While the battle for the top three will most likely be decided between Hunt, Paredes, the latest winner Navratil and American Andy Jones, the fight for the top five - who will automatically qualify for the 2017 season - is still in full force and sees Steven LoBue (USA), Orlando Duque (COL) as well as Artem Silchenko battling it out. This trio amasses a total of 22 wins in 57 stops of the World Series with the latest achieved by the Russian Silchenko six weeks ago in Italy. Their struggle to finish in the top five underlines the depth in quality of diving from heights the equivalent of six double-decker buses in the World Series' eighth season.
In the women's it's Australia's 'rocking rookie', Rhiannan Iffland, who holds a 3-2 lead in victories this season over her closest competitor Lysanne Richard. The Canadian has almost closed the gap to the leading lady from 20m with her latest win from the old bridge of Mostar, and Japan presents a chance for the 3-time mom to grab the most desired position before the final showdown in Dubai. The title for the 2016 overall win will be fought out between these two, while reigning champion Rachelle Simpson battles for a top four spot to make the cut for automatic qualification for 2017.
Rising to a height of 50 metres along a 2-kilometre stretch of the Pacific Ocean, Sandanbeki is a cliff towering along the coast of Shirahama Town, Wakayama Prefecture, and will provide an all-natural setting for the last-but-one stop of the 2016 season. Where one of nature's spectacular marvels can be watched – the ocean's 'black current' unleashing wave after wave and sending them crashing up against the cliff – male and female diving grace will add to the beauty of the setting.
Watch it Live
This event will be LIVE on October 16 from 4.50 AM 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 November 20.