The art of cliff diving

Who thinks “You know that building down by the water?  The art museum that overlooks the water?… Let’s go dive off of it.”

Red Bull, that’s who.  This Saturday, they got 14 divers from around the country to take the plunge off the roof of Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) into the Boston Harbor.  I’m still debating which piece of that is crazier – the 95 foot dive or the destination.

Also crazy = trying to attend this thing without your riot gear on.  I headed down to the seaport via silver line, where I got my first taste of the insane crowds when we all crammed onto the same bus.  And it got even worse when we got closer to the water – all those nights of pushing my way to bar bathrooms, weaving between crowds and carefully eyeing the least-hazardous path paid off when I made it to a simple patch of grass and got to sit and watch the festivities.  I made some new friends and had a perfect view of the water, the clear blue sky, and the perilous platform from which the divers would be launching themselves.  Perfection.

The competition itself started late – all the materials boasted a 4:00 dive time but in reality, the practice dives were even later than that and by the time I left at 6:15 we were only 1 round into a four-round head-to-head matchup.  It was exhausting even just to watch, but amazing and a great post-Olympics thrill for zero dollars.

The divers have to land feet first, and complete a series of flips and spins in the air.  Even when they land as gently as possible, their bodies make a horrible belly-flop noise when they hit the water – people easily get hurt in this sport.  Not surprising, given that divers can reach speeds of 65 miles per hour before they try to stop in the span of 10-12 feet – that’s like driving down the highway and then stopping your car in the length of your car.  Except it’s your body, so there’s no airbag.  As soon as they hit the water, the divers come right back up making the OK sign to let the rescue scuba crew nearby know that they’re still in one piece.  All was well on Saturday, thank goodness.

 

I fully recommend checking out this free event next year – keep these tips in mind when you go (and look for me there!):

  • Head out early (unless you don’t mind being carried along with the crowd) – aim to be there no later than 3.
  • Bring a sweater.  It’s cold by the water!  But wear sunscreen too.  Always.  🙂
  • Don’t compromise on your view – there were plenty of places to sit if you looked hard enough, and it would have been a LONG time to stand.  That being said…
  • Consider the tides when choosing your seat.  You are sitting by the ocean, at the end of the day.  We saw a whole bunch of people lose their seats as the water came in and covered the rocks where they had been sitting.
  • Bring your camera – so many great photo ops and the extreme number of dives done (4 each for the 14 divers in the first round alone) that you have time to perfect your technique.
  • Meet up with friends before you get there – you won’t be able to hear anything or go anywhere deliberately once you get near the area.

One final shot for good measure/ to inspire you to join me next year:

Hope to see you there!

 

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