British wildcard Jessica Macaulay was the star performer on day one of the 2018 Red Bull Cliff Diving season opener in Texas, storming into a surprise lead after a record-breaking second round dive which lifted her comfortably ahead of Mexico's Adriana Jimenez in second and German Anna Bader in third after two rounds of diving at Hell's Gate. David Colturi of the USA also leaped into an early lead, edging ahead of the Czech Republic's Michal Navratil in second and Brit Blake Aldridge on a tight first day of action in the men's competition.
Macaulay, competing in only her second World Series event following her debut in the Portuguese Azores last season, was the surprise package on day one of the women's competition. The 25-year-old followed up a solid first dive with a second round stunner from 21m, a Back 3 Somersaults, which broke the record for the highest scoring women's dive ever.
"I'm having an amazing time," said Macaulay. "I have my family and my coaches out here, and the energy with all the fans is just great. I can't believe I'm in the lead, I didn't expect this but I'm really happy. Tomorrow I'm hoping that I can stick to my training, do what I normally do, and hopefully do good."
Two-time women's World Series champion, Rhiannan Iffland of Australia, made a slow start by her high standards and looks up at the lofty Brit from sixth position, knowing she needs to make up a 40 point gap if she is to have a chance of adding to her 9 victories here in Texas, a location in which she is currently unbeaten. If Macaulay can hold onto her lead on Saturday though, she will be the first women's wildcard to taste victory since Iffland herself in this very spot two years ago.
As temperatures nudged 40C (104F) down at a packed Possum Kingdom Lake, where fans had gathered on boats, kayaks and paddleboards to watch the action, home-grown hero Colturi stated his intentions with two eye-catching dives from the 27 metre platform to the delight of his floating fans. His lead is a slender one though, thanks to a series of high-scoring efforts from his rivals, and just 3.4 points separate the top five men going into Saturday's final rounds.
"The first two dives went well," said Colturi. "I was definitely a little more nervous than I thought I was going to be, going first after a long off-season, but thankfully all the training and preparation came in well for me.
"It's so nice to be in the States and have my friends and family here, feeling that love and support from my top two fans - mom and dad. I feel right at home and it's going to give me that extra boost to dive well through the weekend."
Britain's Gary Hunt, who is currently ditching his twisting dives due to a mental block, will be happy to be sitting so close to the leaders in fifth place, while reigning champion Jonathan Paredes of Mexico will need to make his move from ninth place when the action resumes on Saturday.
Thousands of fans will be back out on the lake on Saturday afternoon, no doubt stirring up the usual feverish atmosphere that has greeted the world's best divers here for the past five years. With a potential cinderella story on the cards in the women's competition, an excitingly tight top five in the men's, and red hot temperatures forecast again, it all looks set to be a sizzling final day of diving in Texas.
Watch Live from Texas
This event will be LIVE on June 2 at 3:15 PM CDT (8:15 PM GMT) on www.redbullcliffdiving.com, Red Bull TV, Facebook and YouTube. 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.