"'Wow!' was one of the first things I thought!" Series champion Gary Hunt was blown away by the location for the fourth stop of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series 2012 in Ireland.
Even by World Series standards, the raw beauty and rugged landscape of the Aran Islands' Inis Mor is awe-inspiring and the divers were witness to nature at its most dramatic during Thursday.
Strong winds and crashing waves meant that the training day was cancelled as many of the divers could only watch on, trying to take in the location without being able to climb the 28m platform for reasons of safety.
With the Serpent’s Lair every bit as foreboding as it sounds, the rectangular blowhole’s huge tidal swell, which can vary by as much as six metres, looked like it could swallow men whole!
The uninhabited west side of Inis Mor is the one that faces the full force of the Atlantic Ocean and with its slabs of slate-grey stone, it was one of the most stark and inhospitable places the World Series has encountered.
'It felt like we were on another planet!'
"I was walking to the platform and was speechless at first,“ said American David Colturi. "You come in on the boat to the port and you see all these lush green fields. You’re taken away by the natural beauty but then you come over to the rock side and the cliffs and it felt like I was on another planet!
"It looks sick, I just hope the weather improves. It sucks not being able to practice because you only get so many dives before you’re able to compete and, especially for a new guy like me, I’m looking to get as many reps as I can. I‘ve just got to focus for when the competition day does come."
The 23-year-old, who won the 2012 qualification competition in Australia, is still trying to put together his perfect list of dives and start fulfilling his undoubted potential but will be supported in this event by his family who have made the trip to Ireland.
"I’m really excited that my family’s going to be here – I’ve been waiting to share it with them," he said. "The photos and videos are one thing but you really have to come out and see it. At first my dad joked that I’d been dropped on my head too many times as a kid but they know that it’s what I love and they support me."
With weather conditions forecast to improve over the next 24 hours, Friday is expected to witness the first dives from the 28m platform ahead of the fourth stop of the 2012 World Series.