2008 Photo Contest, Sports Action, 1st prize

Tim Clayton

Sydney Morning Herald

01 January, 2007

A tradition of land-diving, 'nagol', has existed for centuries on this South Pacific island. Men and boys build tall timber towers and leap off them headfirst from different levels, sometimes as high as ten meters. They are prevented from falling to their deaths by vines tied to their ankles. The vines tauten and stop the descent just centimeters before the diver hits the earth. Divers choose their own vines in high hillside forests. Nagol takes place between March and June when the vines are at their strongest and most elastic. Nagol has become a popular tourist attraction with visitors paying considerable sums to tour companies for an opportunity to watch the spectacle. It was also the inspiration for bungee jumping which has become a lucrative sport in the West. Recently, there have been calls for more transparency about where the tourists' money goes and talk of an intellectual property rights claim on the bungee jumping industry.

About the photographer

Tim Clayton

He has covered eight Olympic Games, five Rugby World Cups, and the FIFA World Cup. He recently relocated to the New York area and is represented by Corbis. Tim has received eigh...

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