By CLINT FOSTER
POSSUM KINGDOM LAKE – On a beautiful Texas Saturday, 19 of the world's best divers and 6,700 fans converged on Hell's Gate Cove in Possum Kingdom Lake for the finale of the second stop on the international Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series.
On its first trip to the Lone Star State for the American leg of competition, the series took a turn for the legendary as only a Texas location could. From perches atop the picturesque natural cliffs at PK, 12 men and seven women plunged 90 feet and 60 feet, respectively, at 53 mph into the cool lake waters.
Once the ripples subsided, none other than a Brit and a native Texan had claimed the North American championships.
With the first-ever North American women's competition as the stage for her first-ever professional cliff diving event, San Antonio's own Rachelle "Rocco" Simpson claimed top honors with a front triple somersault with one-and-a-half-twist pike.
"I love you, Texas!" she triumphantly shouted after securing the title.
"It's surreal," she told the Index after receiving her first-place trophy. "I was so excited to be in Texas. Now that I've won, it's even better.
"I can't describe the feeling. Just seeing my family and my husband out there cheering for me, it made the setting really relaxed, but at the same time even more exciting.
"I was really nervous coming in. I had some high expectations for myself. I'm so excited right now."
Earning the men's title for the 16th time in his career was Gary Hunt of the United Kingdom. The three-time series champion employed a front triple somersault three-and-a-half twist pike to elicit a strong reaction from the crowd and a first-place score from the judges.