Red Bull Cliff Diving: Orlando Duque unbeatable

At Red Bull Cliff Diving in St. Gilgen on Lake Wolfgang, Austria, 5500 spectators experienced the best cliff divers in the world – and a rare physical phenomenon.

Orlando Duque aus Kolumien konnte mit einem dreifachen Rückwärtssalto in Kombination mit einer zweifach gehechteten Schraube das Red Bull Cliff Diving 2008 gewinnen.  Foto: Red Bull/ Samo VidicSpinning turbines or propellers that move in water at top speeds causes cavitation. Water pressure sinks to such a degree that the water vaporizes where the instrument is at work – and already at temperatures much lower than the necessary 100 degrees Celsius. At Red Bull Cliff Diving in Austria 21 degrees Celsius (69.8 F) was enough – the current water temperature of Lake Wolfgang. The world’s twelve best cliff divers hit the water at 90 km/h from the height of 27.5 meters. The bubbles that rose up one-to-two seconds after the dive were the result of cavitation.

Spectators of the unusual air show were less interested in the rare physical phenomenon than in the performance of the divers. From about 1000 fishing boats, rafts, canoes, air mattresses or other floating constructions they followed the performance of Orlando Duque, the nine-time World Champion, and his rivals. Despite the strong competition from eight nations, the Columbian also won this event. In the final round a triple backwards somersault and a double twist scored him the highest points of the day: 343.70.

Other prominent onlookers from more-or-less related disciplines were also impressed by Duque’s performance: judge Niki Stajkovic, himself a six-time Olympic athlete in high diving, could hardly believe ‘how the sport has developed in the last three years.’ And Gregor Schlierenzauer already had ‘a queasy feeling in his stomach’ while watching the diving tower. ‘At least with ski jumping I have shoes and skis that give me security and a foothold,’ he said.

Incidentally, the comprehensive safety measures of Red Bull Cliff Diving don’t remain unused. On the way home from the event, a life-saving team fished someone out of the water who had been partying excessively on a boat that was ship-wrecked on Lake Wolfgang – a bride in her bridal dress, train and with bridal bouquet who was sopping wet...

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