Miss Stance : Steph Bridge
Name : Steph Bridge
Hometown : Exmouth – UK
Sponsors : NorthKiteboarding, Volvo, Levitaz, Edgewatersports, CAT Rugged Phones, ION, The Beach House Exmouth.
In case there are some Stance readers that don’t know you, could you describe yourself in a few words?
I share my life with Eric & our 3 boys where we have always run a watersports business in Exmouth. For competitions I have been involved in racing for a few years & this has been a journey I have shared with our oldest son, Olly.
I have been travelling for youth events with Olly, Guy & Tom for freestyle as well as the occasional wave.
How did you start kiteboarding?
Coming from Sailing & windsurfing the natural progression was to try this amazing new sport that took a while to get to the UK, especially the equipment was tricky to get hold of. I had never flown a kite before & we were practicing the sport off the sand banks which was ideal. I moved my straps on my ‘hi-tech’wave 260 windsurf board which I used for learning. Eric & I shared the kite but we soon got frustrated waiting and we needed to get another kite.
Kiteboarding is definitively a family affair for you because all of your 3 boys are kiteboarders. Have you taught your children? What advise could you give to any parents who want to teach their kids?
The boys grew up around boats & sailing then they saw us kitesurfing. We bought them a flexi -sting 2.4mtr to use & play with on the beach while we kited. They soon started to jump with it, throw it to each other & showed real motivation in using it. They used it on a skim board. Then, Olly was learning 1st for maybe a year before Guy & Tom learnt. Tom was age 7 & it was tricky to get him a small enough board, kite & harness. He used a 3mtr Cabrinha Convert to begin. Exmouth is ideal since there are many shallow areas & the wind in the summer is often 12- 15knots which is ideal for youngsters. They do not need it windy & they have good kite flying skills so can kite early which allows them alot more kite-able days. Off course, the boys had the advantage that Eric or I was always around for them & the key point was to provide good stable conditions. Then the equipment started to improve & Tom was getting made some small boards & kites from Northkiteboarding who have supported him alot. The North Vegas & North Dice are ideal for youngsters.
You are quite known for your World and European champion titles and your performances in racing over the years. Why have you chosen racing over other disciplines such as surfing?
To start I was freestyle then I was getting injured too much. I was invited to a race event in 2007 & then realised this was alot of fun & so I started to focus on this. It was at a time when the sport was evolving and we were going faster up & downwind plus starting to ride in much lighter winds, playing with fins & big boards etc. I also got invited to the 1st KSP in Mauritius where I got 3rd in the wave event so could easily of taken this pathway BUT I like that the racing was objective, there was a good event schedule & also our older son – Olly at age 12 was starting to enjoy this also so both of us were travelling together.
What training do you do for any competition?
I try to ensure I ride on the water as much as I can, often in the evenings after work. In addition I bike, swim, Paddle but nothing in routine. My work keeps me super active & movement is the key to longevity I think.
Where is your favorite kite spot and why is it?
We are all so lucky to kite so everytime I ride is special. I like where we live in Exmouth since everyday is different with mad tides & amazing scenery. Often, its the people you share the session with so you can be in the best most amazing spot in the world like ‘one-eye’ But if there is a bad vibe on the water & people giving you the ‘Eye’ then its not fun.
What places do you dream to visit for kiting?
I would love to go to Patagonia and Alaska.
What are you the most proud of of your kiteboarding career so far?
I guess in 2014 when Olly was winning the world Chamopionships for the mens division at age 17 & I was winning the woman worlds. My mistake in kite choice cost him his world tittle & this was also the worst moment in my career.
What are your plans for the upcoming months?
We have a new exciting project in Exmouth where we have bought a large Grade 2 listed building on the beach which we are renting out & this has taken many hours and alot of stress. We start to get busy at the kite centre – Edgewatersports and there are many new enquries for Youth Coaching that I want to forfill. With the announcement that Kitesurfing will be present at the YOG 2018 in Argentina then this has opened many new doors.
We have some exciting world records to beat which we are working in partnership with Volvo on.
I shall do less racing this year to concentrate on these other projects and also our younger son – Tom is in rehab with his Knee so some time to ensure his re-entry to freestyle is going well.
Who among your kite girl friends should be our next Miss Stance?
Camilla from Norway or Jo Wilson from the Uk.