Published in the Western Morning News
Exmouth kitesurfer Guy Bridge has fended off a legion of international competitors to become European Champion.
The 18-year-old was one of 59 kiters from 18 countries, including his older brother Olly Bridge, 20, a previous title holder but who lost out to his younger sibling this time by just one point.
The 2018 Formula Kite European Championships took place earlier this month in Warnemünde, northern Germany and left little room for error with competitors battling it out in a week-long series of 16, six-minute races. The top 10 went on to compete in the medal races with Guy and competitors reaching speeds of 40 knots, around 47mph.
“There are several factors at play during the competitions,”says Guy, who is a kitesurfing coach for the family firm, Edge Watersports. “Firstly the weather – we couldn’t race for a few days because it was raining and these kites won’t perform if they take on water. And obviously the wind is a major factor; in the medal events the wind was around 10 knots which isn’t a challenging speed, meaning that we were all really close together.
“In stronger, more challenging winds the riders become more spread out, so riding so tightly made things quite intense. In one of the medal races, six riders got tangled – it’s pretty much game over if this happens.”
Guy has learnt from the best; his mum Steph is a five-time world champion, and the former Exmouth Community College student regularly kitesurfs with Olly and younger brother Tom. “Team Bridge” has a haul of freeride and racing world and European titles between them.
Modestly, Guy puts his success down to having the opportunity to get out on the water every day rather than hereditary talent.
On what it takes to be European Champion, he adds: “Getting a lot of time in the water in different conditions is really important. Being able to train with my brothers, who are also riding at a top level, is really good.
“There’s not much rivalry between us really,” he promises. “But obviously we all want to come first!”
Guy describes Exmouth as being the ideal training ground for international competitions. “Exmouth is a great place to train because of the variable conditions here,” he explains. “The sea breezes can be calm one day and strong the next what with the gusts that comes off the hills.”