Standing on the edge of a building, wearing nothing but a Speedo, tens of thousands of people yelling for you to jump. . . . No, it’s not an anxiety dream. It’s just another day in the life of a professional cliff diver.
On Aug. 25, the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series returns to Boston, the competitors once again starting on top of the Institute of Contemporary Art and leaping some 26.5 meters — about the height of 2½ Green Monsters — into Boston Harbor.
And the divers couldn’t be more excited.
RED BULL CLIFF DIVING WORLD SERIES
“For all the Americans, it’s the only US stop, and having so many people cheering for you is really fun,’’ said Kent De Mond of San Diego. “I’ve been to Boston a ton of times and I always like coming back.”
At the tour’s last stop, off the west coast of Ireland at a place called the Serpent’s Lair — a natural blowhole carved out by the Atlantic Ocean into a perfect rectangle underneath rock cliffs — the remote location made for stunning views, but it was nearly impossible for fans to watch live.
“In Boston, the big unique thing is you’re not at a remote location. You have a living, thriving city around you,’’ said Steven LoBue of Florida. “To look out last year and see about 23,000 fans and this entire city, it was just really, really cool to see.”
Whereas some stops, such as the one last month in the Azores, have real cliffs for the divers to scale, being on Fan Pier has its advantages.
“Diving-wise, it’s a lot easier because you don’t have to deal with as much,’’ said David Colturi. “Like a lot of time we’ll be rock climbing to get to the platform, or we’ve got to use ropes and belay down, or hike through the woods, at least we get a staircase we climb through the building and can just walk out to use the platform.”
Many of the divers were on the Olympic track at one point, and the sports are judged the same. But where David Boudia won gold in London with a back 2.5 somersault with 2.5 twists pike from 10 meters up, Colturi, his former teammate at Purdue University, enjoys a double with four twists from nearly three times the height.
The biggest difference is in the entry: Cliff divers always come in feet first, as their wrists and shoulders would be unable to withstand the impact.
“To transition into this high-diving thing, [divers] work for a couple of years at amusement parks, like Universal Studios, and there’s some big ones over in Europe and China,’’ said Colturi. “A lot of them are just straight ladders all the way to the top with a little platform and you just kind of start learning feet-first entries instead of the headfirst entries.”
Colturi spoke from Indiana Beach, an amusement park in Monticello, Ind., where he got his high-diving start. Like many of his competitors, he is making use of his two-week tour break to come home and work.
For LoBue, the Red Bull tour is his side job, as he spends the school year coaching and teaching physical education in a Florida elementary school.
“It’s really nice to travel and get around,’’ said LoBue. “If you do well, you can make some pretty good summer prize money but, for the most part, a lot of us have jobs that we have to get back to.” But first comes Boston.
“There’s a certain fear before you do your dive, and you have to keep that fear in check,’’ explained LoBue. “If it’s too high, that’s dangerous and you are probably not focused on the things that you need to be focused on. If it’s too low, you are going to end up doing something stupid, so you have to keep your fear at a kind of happy level.
“[Part of my calming routine is] to look out wherever we are and just appreciate how I got there and what we’re doing.”