The two Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series champions were masterful once again on a
day when 23 tens were handed out at Downpatrick Head.
Gary Hunt and Rhiannan Iffland maintained their winning form on a dramatic and barely believable day of high-quality action at the fourth stop of the 2021 Red Bull Cliff
Diving World Series in Downpatrick Head, Ireland.
The rugged Irish coast, notorious for serving up difficult diving conditions over the years, was no match for the cliff diving elite as they ripped into the Atlantic Sea with stunning precision again and again, breaking multiple records along the way.
Four-time champion Iffland, chasing a record-extending 11th consecutive World Series win,
was simply untouchable yet again.
Beginning the third round in an unfamiliar third position, the Australian blew her rivals out of the water with a sensational ‘perfect dive’, earning five 10s from the judges – the highest score possible – for the first time in her glittering career.
In becoming the first woman to achieve this feat, she also surpassed her own previous record for the highest single dive score.
Joining Iffland on the podium were Canada’s Jessica Macaulay in second place and a fellow Aussie, wildcard Xantheia Pennisi, who put on a career-best display to make the top three for the first time.
Canada’s Molly Carlson just missed out, taking fourth place after also earning one top note from the judges.
“It feels great to be on top of the podium once again,” said Iffland. “I was feeding a little bit from my training partner Xantheia Pennisi as well. Coming into the last two rounds today it was neck and neck and I think I really ate up the pressure and I enjoyed it.
“That dive in warm-up didn’t go so well, so I decided I had to switch my mindset for the
competition and made sure that I gave it my absolute all. I went through the water and went ‘wow, that really worked’. I’m super stoked and I guess I’ve got to figure out ways to spice it up and keep pushing myself.
“I guess I can kind of relax a little bit now and enjoy the competitions a little bit more. Saying that, I still want to go out there and give it my all to break those scores again. This is what I’m aiming for next.”
In the men’s competition, Hunt earned his 41st career victory, but that doesn’t even begin to tell the story.
Having earned three 10s himself in Saturday’s second round, the Frenchman watched on as his rivals cranked up the pressure with a series of high-scoring dives in the third
and fourth rounds.
Romania’s Constantin Popovici, Hunt’s closest competitor this season, began the glut of 10s by earning four of them for his third round dive. In the final round, English prodigy Aidan Heslop grabbed two, Italy’s Alessandro De Rose picked up three, while the Spanish wildcard Carlos Gimeno wowed with the crowd with a first-ever perfect handstand dive, becoming only the third man ever to receive five 10s from the judges.
It is testament to Hunt’s character, ability and all-round mental strength that he managed to hold off this marauding challenge from the chasing pack to climb back on top of the podium again.
Popovici took second place, while De Rose made the top three for the first time since
“From Italy I expect fireworks,” said Hunt after his win. “I feel like everyone is really getting into their stride. You’ve seen how many 10s have been awarded this competition and everyone is getting comfortable. It will be really, really tough, but that’s what I love about this sport. It’s gonna get tougher every year and let’s hope to finish this season with a bang.”
On a weekend that will go down in cliff diving history, a record 23 top notes were handed out, two perfect dives were recorded in a single stop for the first time ever, and Gimeno became the first diver to ever perform a handstand dive directly off the rocks during the first round.
Following this pulsating performance, the world’s best cliff divers will now head back to
mainland Europe in just over a week’s time, where they will continue their fight for the King Kahekili trophy at the first stop of an Italian doubleheader in Puglia.
RESULTS – Stop #4, Downpatrick Head, IRL
1- Rhiannan Iffland AUS – 391.60pts.
2- Jessica Macaulay CAN – 343.80
3- Xantheia Pennisi (W) AUS – 338.20
4- Molly Carlson CAN – 316.80
5- Eleanor Smart – 302.80
6- Antonina Vyshyvanova (W) UKR – 289.85
7- Meili Carpenter (W) USA – 269.30
8- Jaki Valente BRA – 240.20
9- Iris Schmidbauer GER – 179.75
10- Adriana Jimenez (W) MEX – 110.00
1- Gary Hunt FRA – 442.50pts.
2- Constantin Popovici ROU – 433.60
3- Alessandro De Rose ITA – 419.55
4- Carlos Gimeno (W) ESP – 395.40
5- David Colturi USA – 393.10
6- Michal Navratil CZE – 378.20
7- Aidan Heslop (W) GBR – 368.15
8- Steven LoBue USA – 343.65
9- Sergio Guzman (W) MEX – 342.95
10- Catalin Preda (W) ROU – 341.05
11- Andy Jones USA – 333.70
Standings* (after 4 of 6 stops)
1- Rhiannan Iffland AUS – 600pts.
2- Jessica Macaulay CAN – 420
3- Molly Carlson (W) CAN – 346
4- Xantheia Pennisi (W) AUS – 272
5- Eleanor Smart USA – 260
1- Gary Hunt FRA – 560pts.
2- Constantin Popovici ROU – 450
3- Catalin Preda (W) ROU – 339
4- Alessandro De Rose ITA – 314
5- Carlos Gimeno (W) ESP – 232
*The Oslo Exhibiton did not count towards the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series standings.