Every sport has its dangers, but plunging 100 feet into a watery abyss between jagged rocks surely ranks cliff diving as one of the most terrifying.
But for competitors in the Red Bull Cliff Diving series taking place in the Portuguese islands of the Azores, it"s all part and parcel of the job. Leaping from a rock monolith, the divers throw themselves into the Atlantic Ocean with the scant consolation that at least the water below that greets them- if they manage to avoid the rocks that is - is a comfortable 22 degrees.
Athletes from all over the world gather on the small islet of Villa France do Campi situated in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.And as the rocky outcrop is 850 miles west of mainland Europe, help is far from close-at-hand.
The latest event is the third stop on the current World Series. It is also the first time in the history of the competition that divers have leaped straight from the rocks into the sea below.
As proceedings stand, Kent De Mond"s leap - which earned him a high score of 95.40 points - means that the American is currently leading the pack. The American diver, known as "De Mondster" to fans of the sport, said that it was a joy to take part.
"I love diving straight out from the cliff - it feels really natural," he said. De Mond was tied in score with Russian Artem Silchenko who executed a reverse somersault from the rocky platform.
But with the final series of dives taking place today and with challenging conditions making the event one of the more unpredictable on the tour, the remaining 11 athletes have everything to play for.
Also taking part in the death-defying event is Tom Daley"s ex-diving partner Blake Aldridge.
The 29-year-old former European champion described the event as "massive". He told RedBull.com: "I only came on the tour last year as a wildcard. I didn’t even do the qualification and I’ve only done two competitions.
The Azores leg of the tour is part of a packed schedule of diving for the athletes this summer.
On August 4th, competitors will arrive in the ominously-named Serpent"s Lair in Ireland for the next round of the series. And with the water temperature averaging at 15 degrees - several degrees cooler than the sunny Azores they may be in for a surprise when they land.
American diver David Colturi leaps into the waters below during the World Cliff Diving series
Rocks away! Spectacular photos of daredevil divers leaping 100 feet from rocky Atlantic outcropRocks away! Spectacular photos of daredevil divers leaping 100 feet from rocky Atlantic outcrop