Video: Red Bull’s Cliff Diving World Series Kicks Off In France

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For its fifth year, the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series has begun, offering daredevils around the world the chance to compete for a championship title and bragging rights.

Held for the fourth time in La Rochelle, France, the competition lasts for five months and through eight separate competition events, during which the cliff diving elite will launch from almost three times the Olympic diving height (a total of 27 meters high) in venues all over the globe, showing their most spectacular and difficult tricks, and overcoming rational fear to impress the judges and spectators alike. And to spice it all up, the 2013 World Series comes to its scariest location first: La Rochelle, France.

The above video highlights some of the weekend’s craziest stunts and the winning dive by 29-year-old Russian Artem Silchenko. During the two-day event, nearly 70,000 fans watched jumpers take to the catacombs of the Saint Nicolas Tower, where they flipped, twisted and turned in a three-second free fall from a 27 meter platform into 12°C water below, falling at speeds up to 85 kph. This year’s competition was made even more difficult by the cold temperatures and the 50kph winds.

The tour has several stops with a select pool of divers moving to each next round. The next stop on the tour is Copenhagen, Denmark, on June 21 and 22, followed by Portugal, Italy, Boston, the United Kingdom, Brazil and Thailand.

Can you think of a more extreme vacation activity? We sure can’t.

Watch A Mountain Biker Take An 80-Foot Tumble

The Red Bull Rampage is an annual downhill mountain bike race that pits some of the best riders in the world against one another on a course that mere mortals should never even think about attempting. The competition features massive jumps, flips and other aerobatics that are definitely not for the inexperienced or faint of heart.

The scariest moment from the 2012 edition of the race, which was held this past weekend in Virgin, Utah, comes our way courtesy of rider Cam Zink, who took an 80-foot tumble after overshooting one of the jumps. Fortunately, Zink wasn’t seriously hurt, but his trusty helmet cam caught all of the action, which is pretty much guaranteed to make your stomach drop. Check out Cam’s ride from the perspective of his helmet cam in the first video below, then watch the second video to see how it looked to spectators on hand. Either way, it wasn’t pretty.

Thanks to our friends over at the Adventure Journal for sharing these great videos.





Supersonic Free Fall From Edge Of Space One Step Closer

supersonic freefall

The exact date for Felix Baumgartner’s supersonic free fall from the edge of space is not yet scheduled. But this week, the Austrian daredevil jumped from 18 miles above the planet, coming one step closer to setting the record for the world’s highest skydive.

Baumgartner, an expert skydiver who started jumping at age 16, hopes to become the first human to break the sound barrier without a plane. To do that, he will have to set a world record 125,000-foot dive (that’s 23 miles) armed with gear that will slow him down and keep him alive during the nearly six minute free fall.

Part of a Red Bull-sponsored event, Baumgartner’s 60-pound parachute system includes a main chute, an emergency backup and an oxygen system. Should he go spinning out of control, a stabilizing drogue, also along for the ride, will be deployed.

Make no mistake, this is no weekend skydiver out for a joy ride.

“The pressure is huge, and we not only have to endure but excel,” Baumgartner told ABC News before his jump reports Space. “We’re excellently prepared, but it’s never going to be a fun day. I’m risking my life, after all.”

The previous record, jumping from nearly 103,000 feet, was set on August 16, 1960, by Air Force Col. Joe Kittinger who is serving as a consultant on this latest attempt that hopes to be a supersonic free fall.

Here is an animation from Red Bull Stratos that tells the story


[Image via Red Bull]

Dim Sum Dialogues in Thailand: Full Moon Party

The big night has finally arrived – a fact made tangible by the surreal moon strung up in the sky by wispy clouds.

Legend has it that the first party was held in 1985 for a crowd of 25-30 backpackers. Word of mouth spread and caused the gathering to escalate with every new month and every new full moon.

Tonight, anywhere from 20,000 to 30,000 people of the world will converge on sands of Haad Rin in a few hours. For the second night in a row, the streets are teeming with young backpackers.
The buzz in the air that I felt yesterday is even more feverish. Vendors are setting up their stalls on the beach, neatly laying out rows of colorful plastic buckets that contain playful displays of drink combinations. They have crude signs that cash in on phrases that have become popular with tourists, such as “I love you long time”. There are sodas, liquor, and the infamous energy drinks that are probably illegal in most western countries; Shark, M150, and the infamous Krating Daeng.

The latter, which is marked with two red bulls charging each other, inspired the development of worldwide energy drink Red Bull when Austrian entrepreneur (and now billionaire) Dietrich Mateschitz found that it cured his jet lag on a trip to Thailand in 1982. Mateschitz partnered with Krating Daeng’s owner and in 1987 launched a reformulated, carbonated, and more sexy version of the Thai drink…but don’t be fooled – the original is still the most potent, and the better option if you plan on seeing the sun rise over Haad Rin.

Nearer to the water, more vendors assemble canvases lit by black-lights that promote colorful body art. The available paintings range from the magnificent and inspirational logo of 7-11 to more logical images like dragons, stars, and butterflies. I pass on the paintings – I’ve only brought out a few hundred baht that’s wadded in a secure pocket, because pickpockets are notorious for getting close to dancers and running off with whatever camera / passport / wallet is in reach.

Further down the beach is a section of sand that is fenced off. Signs hung on the plastic fence indicate it to be a designated “sleep area” and medical tent. A few eager partygoers have already managed to fall asleep fully clothed, with plastic buckets just out of reach and heads resting on plush pillows of sand. A necessary power-nap before the main festivities begin.

I drift closer to the music that’s slowly and steadily increasing in volume. It’s a thumping, bass-rich beat that causes my head to involuntary start bobbing. Maybe it’s the M150, maybe it’s the friendly vibe, or maybe it’s the colorful light and decorations of the various “dance stages” on the beach – either way, I have an increasing desire to dance – and in my 23 years on Earth I’ve rarely ever been known for wanting to dance. I’m momentarily distracted a bright flash of light, and I keep drifting.

I find my way to a circle of people that are gathered around a giant jump-rope. When I arrive, a few Thai men are dousing the rope with some liquid, and it’s not until I see a spark that I realize what’s about to happen. The rope ignites, and immediately the men start rotating the rope.

As it gains momentum, there are dozens of young men just steps away, eager to show their courage by jumping into the center and hopping over the now blazing obstacle. Some make it unscathed until the rope fizzles out. Others trip up, a result of one too many buckets – and are grazed by the rope, but remarkably make it out without combusting.

But these scars will only later become supporting evidence to familiar backpacker war-stories that will be told again and again to new friends in hostels around the world.

The most shocking occurrence is a naked man that dashes into the center and enjoys a few successful revolutions of the rope that are echoed by gasps and laughter from the crowd. The laughter quickly stops when the rope is accidentally caught between his legs, and he is brought to the ground, yet again (mostly) unharmed.

There are several more fire dancers close by that twirl lit poi, staff, or nunchakus. Their talent is amazing, and it occurs to me that this skill is the result of a daily dedication – it is their sole existence – spinning fire for the entertainment of wandering nomads.

A few European amateurs get into the fire spinner’s circles and perform slow, clumsy moves that make me fully appreciate the Thai performer’s talent. The Europeans assume that the clapping is for them, and so they continue to gracelessly defame the delicate practice.

Finally, the crowds have all found their way to the beach. I weave between a mass of bodies that throb in unison, connected by music and perhaps also by the journey that it took to make it to this exact moment. I dig my toes into the sand and let my limbs move freely. I’m suddenly not a bad dancer – but possibly now even a mediocre dancer. Everyone is moving together. Everyone is having a good time. The energy flows to the steady, thick beat for hours.

Finally, a husky glow begins to appear over the water. The sun rises, and the crowd dissipates. Newly united couples run down the beach hand in hand. People sleep peacefully on the sand.

The rest retreat to their bungalows, and another Full Moon Party comes to an end.

If you’ve missed the previous articles in this series, be sure to check out the entire Dim Sum Dialogues column for more on the road from Bangkok to Ko Pha Ngan.

Race across Europe with nothing but Redbull


You know those television shows where they drop teams off in the middle of nowhere and they have to race across the world with nothing but their wits and trickery to get them by? Well Red Bull might give you the chance to live that dream using your wits, trickery and…. Red Bull to get you across Europe.

Later this month, the German Austrian company is sponsoring an event where 250 teams of three students will race across Western Europe starting in various destinations and headed towards Paris. Teams will be stripped of cash, credit cards and cell phones and instead will be given, you guessed it, Red Bull as currency. Along the way they can stop at various checkpoints to pick up more of the energy drink with which to barter, and in the end all teams will be judged not on time, but on creativity and adventure incurred on the trip.

The first question that comes to my mind is how much Red Bull a team can carry to trade for anything of value. I imagine any serious transaction would require at least a case. Are there also trucks of Red Bull following these students around?

Either way, the journey sounds incredible. Unfortunately, Redbull is no longer taking any American teams. If you can finagle your way onto a foreign team or convince Redbull to let you in though, give it a shot. I wish I could do it. Check out the contest page at redbullcanyoumakeit.com.