Reigning champions Gary Hunt and Rhiannan Iffland showed they are in no mood to give up their Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series crowns as they won the 2019 opener at the new, stunning El Nido stop at Palawan Island in the Philippines. Here is all you need to know:

• Briton Hunt claimed his seventh title in 2018 and Australian Iffland her third in a row, however they had to fight back to win after Friday’s opening two rounds.

• Hunt found himself in fourth behind 2017 champion Jonathan Paredes of Mexico, while Iffland trailed Yana Nestsiarava of Belarus and American Ginger Huber.

• Once the action moved from the emerald green waters of the small lagoon to the big lagoon on Saturday, though, the guile and experience of the defending champions saw them move up the final standings in the 11th year of diving’s most dramatic competition.

• New permanent diver Constantin Popovici produced a brilliant final armstand dive to secure himself a classy second place with Hunt pulling out a superb final dive from 27m up to put the pressure on leader Paredes, who failed to secure a clean entry as he finished in third.

• After his fifth straight win, Hunt, 34, said: “I knew it was going to be tough. Constantin pushed me right until the edge and that’s been like that for a couple of competitions now. I don’t want to be just on my own. It’s more fun when it’s a fight. Wonderful location. When you think of cliff diving you think of a place like this.”

• Iffland did just enough from the 21m platform to hold off Nestsiarava with Canadian Lysanne Richard beating new British permanent diver Jessica Macaulay to third.

• Iffland, 27, added: “Super happy and a bit surprised. I was standing up there and thought the win is a bit out of my reach, but I do like that extra bit of pressure. Some say it’s not easy, but I actually really enjoy diving off the cliffs. I love being out in nature and I love the extra adrenaline you get standing up on the cliffs.”

• In this remote location, the divers kayaked, rock-climbed and traversed ladders before they even reached their take-off positions above the lagoons full of coral and fish. They now move on to chillier waters in Dublin, Ireland for the second new 2019 stop on May 11-12. ■

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this article was published in OutdoorUAE printed magazine issue #94 April – May 2019

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