Image of cliff with Red Bull logo
Red Bull Cliff Diving

Ballycastle set to host the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series

On 19 & 20 July 2024 the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series takes place in Ballycastle with elite divers performing against stunning coastal backdrops

The Causeway Coast and Glens are some of the best cliffs in the world to look at. And apparently, to dive off?

Ballycastle has been chosen as the venue for a world-renowned cliff diving event this summer.

And it’s none other than the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series, which is taking place on the 19 and 20 July. A world-class event needs a world-class location, right?

We’re always thrilled when our stunning natural landscapes are on display for the world to see, and this time is no different. The rugged Co. Antrim coastline will make for a beautiful (albeit baltic) backdrop later this month.

A spokesperson for the event said:

"Nestled within the Glens of Antrim, an area of outstanding natural beauty, the choppy Atlantic waters of Ballycastle will prove both a danger and a delight for those both competing and spectating.”

Not familiar with the event? Not a problem. Let’s dive right in…

A cliff diver mid air
Red Bull Cliff Diving

The (steep) rise of cliff diving

Let’s start by stating the obvious. Cliff diving is not for the fainthearted. Nor is it for ameutuers. So please don’t try this at home after all the excitement of reading this blog! Let’s leave it to the pros, folks.

Cliff diving is an elite extreme sport and the ultimate display of focus and skill. It originates back to the 1700s in Hawaii, when a brave Hawaiian chief by the name of King Kahekili, leapt from atop the holy cliffs of Kaunolo.

(Yep, precisely what we just advised you not to do. But remember, you’re not King Kahekili, are you?)

Fast forward to 2009, and the Red Bull men’s competition kicked off, with women joining the party in 2014.

For the last fourteen years, divers from all over the world have gone head-to-head in a series of destinations, battling it out to win the prestigious King Kahekili trophy, as well as a tidy winner’s prize fund.

The 2024 Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series kicked off in Greece back in May, moved on to the USA and

Red Bull gives you wings…

The average platform height is 27 metres for men, and 21 metres for women.

Got jelly legs just thinking about it? Strap in, it gets worse…

The drop takes just three seconds, and the diver reaches speeds of up to 85kph. That’s comparable to the speed of a lion running full throttle, or the acceleration rate of a Bugatti Veyron supercar. Let that sink in. (Pun intended!)

Imagine what the wind in their face must feel like when they look out over the cliff edge. The adrenaline in their veins as they quietly count themselves in. And the sense of freedom when they take the leap and hit the water with two to three times the force of gravity. It must be exhilarating!

Unlike Olympic divers, cliff divers have no choice but to enter the water feet-first, creating a breathtaking white jetstream known as a ‘bombhole’ – as shown below…

Impact splash after a diver hit the water
Red Bull Cliff Diving

It’s not surprising that the human body is not built to hit water from such dizzying heights. An even slightly off-centre entry can have catastrophic results. So how do they do it?

Well, aside from putting in years of practice, they have to co-ordinate engaging their extensor muscles in their legs and core. This is one of life’s very few instances where flexing is acceptable and very much encouraged – it could be the difference between a clean entry and a nasty spinal compression.

A cliff diver hits the water
Red Bull Cliff Diving

Big names in cliff diving

Gary Hunt

It’s impossible to talk about cliff diving and not mention Gary Hunt.

As ten-time Red Bull Cliff Diving World Champion, Gary is poster-boy for the sport and the most decorated athlete the sport has ever seen.

How do you think he prepares for a dive? A bit of meditation? Writing in a journal? Perhaps lying in a dark room and visualising himself executing the perfect dive?

Nope. Gary revealed that his pre-competition ritual involves a spot of light juggling to take the edge off. He can manage seven balls, or five bowling-pin-shaped clubs, and insists that it both helps him focus and relax before he takes part in probably one of the least relaxing activities known to man.

If it ain’t broke, eh?

Earlier in his career, he stated, “I want to break barriers and do things no one has ever done before.”

Well, he’s certainly a man of his word. And at forty years old, he’s showing no signs of slowing down.

Rhiannan Iffland

It's a similar story in the women’s game too. Despite only making the switch from pool diving to cliff diving in 2015, Aussie girl Rhiannan Iffland has become the dominant force in the women’s competition.

As a self-proclaimed adrenaline-junkie with a background in trampolining, the 32-year-old has gone from relative obscurity to a global cliff-diving sensation and statistical anomaly almost overnight!

She walked in to the 2016 Red Bull competition as a wildcard, and to everyone’s surprise, walked out as a world champion – becoming the first ever rookie to do so. And she didn’t stop there. She’s won the women’s competition every year since, receiving a perfect score in Portugal in 2018 thanks to a jaw-dropping dive that left barely a ripple.

When asked about how she overcomes the pre-dive jitters, she stated, “I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared every time I stand on the platform. But I’ve learned to overcome it by positive reinforcement – reminding myself that I’ve done the work, I’ve done the training and I know what to do.”

Rhiannon Iffland and Gary Hunt hold whale tail shaped trophies
Red Bull Cliff Diving

Here they are. Rhiannan Iffland and Gary Hunt - reigning world champs and legends of the sport. We applaud your dedication to creating poetry in motion. We’d rather you than us, guys.

Will their run of dominance continue in 2024?

Get in on the action

Find out by tuning in from wherever you are in the world. You can catch the awe-inspiring finals action live on Red Bull TV at the following times…

Saturday 20 July 2024
Women’s Finals: 17:35 BST
Men’s Finals: 18:20 BST

Or if you’re back in the homeland this summer, why not head up to Ballycastle Harbour to feel the buzz of the event live and in person?

The spectacular event will begin at 4pm on each day and finish at 7pm and is expected to draw a crowd of over 20,000 people. Spectators of all ages are welcome, no tickets are required and it’s free of charge!

Last year’s Red Bull Cliff Diving Series reached an impressive 1.5 billion media contacts, with social media channels garnering 500 million impressions and more than 275 million video views.

Whether or not you know what that means, you can agree that those are some big numbers. At Northern Irish Connections, we’re passionate about celebrating all things Northern Ireland, so we’re super excited that such a mammoth international event is being hosted here for the first time ever. It's sure to be a spectacular event with plenty of thrills and spills, and we know that, rain or shine, the world will be captivated by the stunning scenery of our wee country.

Roll on 19 July!

To find out more about the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series in Ballycastle

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