They’re on the edge of glory, and the edge of an art museum, as cliff divers come to Boston

Jun 8, 2024, 7:16 AM

BOSTON (AP) — Rhiannan Iffland stepped to the edge of a platform nearly seven stories above Boston Harbor, thousands of cheering fans packed onto docks, roofs and sidewalks below, and soared through the air with the city’s skyline disappearing behind her as she rocketed toward the tea-brown water.

All in a day’s work for one of the world’s elite participants in cliff diving — a sport in which sometimes the precipice isn’t a cliff at all. Iffland, from Australia, said the competition among cliff divers jumping from the Institute of Contemporary Art during a Saturday contest in Boston was fierce.

“I know the pressure’s coming — and the young girls are diving super well,” Iffland said after winning the women’s section.

Iffland’s victory was part of cliff diving’s marquee event, which came to the hub of New England as the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series made the 100th stop in its history. Participants plunged from up to 90 feet (27 meters) in the air from the waterfront art museum into the chilly harbor below. British diver Aidan Heslop won the men’s competition and said, “We’ve all got our work cut out for us” for the rest of the series.

Boston is the only U.S. stop this year. The series wraps up in Sydney, Australia, in November.

Cliff diving attracts a special kind of athlete, especially when winning means leaping from an art museum into potentially frigid waters below, organizers said.

“These epic athletes train super hard to make sure every leap, somersault, twist and entry is perfect,” organizers said in a statement.

Practice and early competition rounds were held Friday. Judges scores Saturday’s competitive round based on the divers’ form and technique. Two dozen people competed.

It was the third straight year that the popular spectator event has come to Boston. Organizers said it drew 45,000 people for the weekend.

The art museum said in a statement that the event was a visually stunning opportunity for the public and a chance for the athletes to earn “crucial championship points along the way based on their final event positions.”


Whittle reported from Portland, Maine.

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They’re on the edge of glory, and the edge of an art museum, as cliff divers come to Boston