The sun was beating down on the old stone walls last Sunday as I took the ferry to the beautiful postcard picturesque island of Inis Mór off the coast of Galway. The stage was set for this final day of the competition, after the practice dives of Friday and the first show-down on Saturday, the results of which could be clearly seen on the leadership board. Even the simple walk from the staging area to the event area would be enough to make most Sunday walkers back in Dublin jealous. TV & Radio presenter Síle Seoige was on hand as the MC for the day, as much for her skills as an Irish speaker (we were in a Gaeltacht area) as well as her skills as a presenter. There was a certain buzz in the air, with many spectators comparing the terrific conditions this year to 2012, where wind and rain gave the international viewers a stereotypical taste of the West coast of Ireland. I set up poolside and used the first practice jumps of the day to dial in my camera settings, as well as scout for other vantage points around the Serpent’s lair which would ideally show the viewer just how crazy these guys were!
So what’s it all about?
Well, in a nutshell – a bunch of world class divers compete against each other by vaulting themselves off a platform 27 metres above the ocean and and perform tricks of breathtaking complexity as gravity sends them towards the water at a speed of 85kms an hour, all in the space of about 3 seconds. Room for error is zero. What this also means for the photographer is that you also have no room for error. As soon as the diver leaves the platform, you literally have a couple of seconds to get the shot before they disappear under the water. And due to the fact that they are twisting and turning at the speed of light as they descend, it’s not enough to just fire off one shot and hope that you capture a great body position in that frame. Overall it makes for some exciting photography and you had better have brought enough CF cards with you as there ain’t gonna be a camera store around the corner if you run outta space.
Britain’s Gary Hunt won the comp at Inis Mór this time around. A spectator’s favourite, he was the World series winner for three successful years in 2010, 2011, and 2012. It was Hunt’s second consecutive stage win ahead of America’s Steve LoBue and Mexico’s Jonathan Paredes, who took third place in this round. Another fan favourite was World diving veteran Orlando Duque from Columbia. Always guaranteed a cheer from the crowds as soon as he stepped on the platform, he led the field going into the final two rounds.