The most dangerous sports in the world

By Jane Forrester

BASE Jumping involves jumping from a great height (from Buildings, Antennae, Spans or Earth) armed with only a hand-deployed parachute. In the past, BASE jumpers have hurled themselves from such structures as cliffs, transmitters, the Eiffel Tower, the Empire State Building and the Golden Gate Bridge. The sport is almost universally illegal, and the intrepid jumpers are often arrested - assuming the fall hasn't killed them first. Figures suggest that the sport results in between 5 and 15 fatalities each year, whilst those who survive rarely escape without injury.

Extreme Diving (Free Diving or Cave Diving) takes diving to new depths (literally). Free Diving involves plunging up to 120 metres underwater in a single breath, and carries a severe risk of blackout (or in extreme cases brain damage) due to prolonged lack of oxygen to the brain. Cave Diving (diving in water located in caves underground) carries the additional risks of hypothermia, failing equipment, running out of air, losing one's way in the darkness - or some combination of all of those - and some caves even have wild animals living in them. (Some say that the original idea for Cave Diving came as someone was disposing of a body...)

Speed Skiing is the world's fastest non-motorised sport - and consequently one of the most dangerous. Speed Skiers wear special skis and aerodynamic suits which enable them to ski downhill at speeds of up to 160 miles (250km) per hour - a speed equivalent to that of a racing car. If the skier crashes this is almost always fatal.

Although Solo Yacht Racing has a glamorous image, it is also fraught with danger. Sailors have no control over hazards such as strong winds, gigantic waves, sharks, and (in some areas) even pirates. A solo sailor is particularly at risk, as even after radioing for help it may transpire that the nearest available assistance might still be hundreds of miles away. In extreme cases, solo sailors may not even live to see the help arrive.

The most dangerous motor sport in the world, statistically, is motorcycle racing. To give just one example, the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy event (better known as the TT Races) carries the grim statistic of than 220 fatalities during its 100-year history.

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