Tom becomes British Freestyle Champion 2017
Tom becomes British Freestyle Champion 2017
A few events back to back where Olly went to San Francisco & finished 4th then to the Europeans in Turkey where Olly took 3rd Place & Hydrofoil Pro tour stop in Germany where Olly took 3rd.
A few words from Guy:
” The Europeans in Turkey were really frustrating for me. I started really well getting 4th in the Bosphorus Race- this was 44Km on all points of sail down to the Famous Stretch of water linking Europe to Asia. I messed up the finish which meant I missed my 3rd place which I had held all the way. I realised that I had pushed things hard & by evening my Lower Back had completely seized up & I was unable to move. This was the first time anything like this had happened to me. I tried to race the next day but was unable to push and was in so much pain. The rest of the regatta I tried to get my back better since the following week I had the hydrofoil Pro tour stop in Germany.
Arriving in Germany, Mum had drove from the UK & had all sorts of stretching, TENS machine & excercises. I also was lucky to be looked after by Dr.Wake who is a really talented Physiotherapist & also passionate kitesurfer. On site physio meant morning & night heavy pressure point sessions. Incredibly, I was starting to kite pain free. This made a huge difference to my results & I was happy to come away with 4th place overall with my older brother- Olly in 3rd place.
Back in the UK for a few days where I have turned age 18 & am preparing to head to China for the Gold Cup stop next week
The twin-tip slalom format, the same as that to be used at the Youth Olympic Games in Argentina next year, had prompted a huge field of 112 riders from 21 countries to converge on Hang Loose Beach, Gizzeria, to hone their skills in preparing for qualification events that could secure a place in Buenos Aires. Following a 4 day intensive coaching Clinic with the Spannish & Italian teams, Steph was joined by all the family: the first time that they had all participated at the same event for some years now. Also representing GB was the only Female rider- Rachael Hooper, brother Eddie, Ben & Ryan Daffin -all from Exmouth.
Fast and furious downwind races over five reaches that are wrapped up in barely three minutes require no specialist equipment beyond a twin-tip board and kites, make the competition easily accessible to the average kiteboarder. The introduction of obstacles—sausage-shaped buoys to be jumped—on the last two legs of the course later in the proceedings, further added to the drama, and tested riders more used to simply racing as fast as possible on the water’s surface.
Tom arrived at the event following his success at the youth freestyle world Cup in Costa Brava the previous week. This was Tom’s First time to race this format & realise the skills he will need to make it to the very tight selection process to represent GB at the YOG in Argentinia. More familiar with longer more technical upwind & Downwind Courses on the hydrofoil class, both Olly & Guy Bridge found this a good training ground which requires fast quick decisions, starting Practice & traffic management. They both entered the Open class which was over 19′s division.
Tom started the event well, winning the first elimination on the first couple of days however some premature starting (OCS) on day 3 pushed him down a few places & meant that with the long period of wait between races due to the volumn of participants, only 5 races were sailed & this was not enough for Tom to make it back to the Podium spot. Meanwhile older brother Olly who had some earlier bad results, made a comeback to place 2nd overall in the open Fleet (over 19′s). Guy, also enjoyed some top 5 rankings but had his share of kite tangles pushing his ranking to 9th Place overall.
Tom Bridge – 6th – Under 19’2
Olly Bridge – 2nd – Open
Guy Bridge – 9th Open
Their first competition oversea’s & Their first race experience, all the Youth Academy improved their position each day as they learnt the skills needed. Always prepared & ready to attack, age 14- Rachael Hooper has been kitesurfing for 1 year & was faced with a mass of other kiters on the startline, a new down loop toe side turn at high speed as she rounds the buoys plus a bunch of hurdles to launch over. This was all new for the others- Eddie, Ben & Ryan: all whome improved their results during the week ending 48th, 50th & 55th whereas Rachael got to 21st in the womans division. The Youth Academy now know what to expect & training will continue each week where skills are practiced off Exmouth Seafront. All the Youth Academy go to the final stop of the British freetsyle tour in Hunstanton this weekend.
The UK has spawned some serious kiteboarding talent over the years and Tom Bridge is certainly one of them. With an impressive kiteboarding career to date, Tom’s talent has shined through from the moment he took his first steps on a board. Dominating the youth scene when he was still in single figures, he’s been known to give the big boys a serious run for their money. Over the years, Tom has taken to many podiums at national and international events.
Although a dedicated Freestyle rider, Tom is part of the Bridge family who as individuals all excel in Foil boarding and Racing. Obviously a talented lot, it is Tom who has caught the eye of Red Bull, a prospect that is just a dream for most, and was asked to join the world renowned extreme sports brand as an official Team Rider.
Still only 14 years old Tom joins the impressive line up of what can only be described as The golden list of outstanding extreme sports athletes. All recognised for their legendary riding, creativity and passion for what they do, Tom personally thanks fellow North Kiteboarding Team Rider Aaron Hadlow, for showing him the way.
Congratulations Tom! What does it mean to be a Red Bull rider?
Joining Red Bull as a Freestyle kiteboarder is amazing and I’m so lucky to be part of the brand. It’s so forward thinking and has a massive pool of expertise that I can really benefit from as I focus on taking the sport to the next level. There’s so much opportunity on offer like being able to share ideas, get help with my physical training, interacting with other Red Bull athletes and learning from the best.
Why do you think you were chosen?
I started kitesurfing when I was 7 years old and really started to dominate at the Youth Worlds and European Freestyle Championships when I was still really young. I didn’t loose a Junior Freestyle heat for 5 years, I suppose I was a bit ahead of my time. It also helped a lot that the 5 x Freestyle World Champion is a Red Bull rider from the UK. Thank you Aaron Hadlow for showing me the way and helping with the transition.
You’ve been a top rider for a long time, first in the youth division and now in the men’s categories. In your opinion, how has kiteboarding progressed and what do you think of the new format?
In Freestyle the bar has been raised a lot! When I was doing the Juniors, the top men were doing Blind Judge 5’s as one of the top tricks. Now that trick doesn’t even feature in their heats. The new format that we’re seeing in Freestyle is helping the riders to take more risks. It’s challenging the riders to the max and you never know until the last trick who has won. It’s also a great spectator sport since there’s a high quality live stream and good commentary that gives a better understanding to the scoring system.
The new format also pushes the riders to train hard as expectations are transparent. When you know what’s expected, you can then work on power, height and speed into your best tricks. I was supposed to be revising during the WKL Leucate event but I kept turning on the live stream to see what was going on.
How have you adapted as the styles and gear have progressed?
I’ve moved from riding straps to boots so I can be more powered. The boards are stiffer and I’m riding a bigger board with more rocker which generates more pop. The new 2017 North Vegas is such a perfect kite for unhooking and riding powered. I also love that the Wakestyle Bar is so small. For wave riding nothing beats the Neo’s, especially in combination with the Click Bar – being able to depower your kite with the push of a button is pretty amazing.
When I first started kitesurfing there were no good small kites, bars, harnesses or boards. I had to wear two wetsuits at once to stay warm since getting a decent one in the right size was tricky. Everything has come along way since then!
What is your favourite style of riding?
Freestyle is my main focus, but I’m really getting into kicker tricks and riding waves with my Dad on the Neo’s when I can. It’s great to mess about on the Foil with my brothers Guy and Olly who are really fast and train a lot. To be honest, I love all aspects of kiteboarding and recently have had my best ever snow kite experience at the Red Bull Ragnarok in Norway where I started to get some real big drifts. When it’s howling windy I love mega looping and am stoked riding with my school friends who are learning.
What is your favourite setup?
Take me to a flat water spot with some kickers – it’s the best playground ever! Then give me a 10m North Vegas on a Wakestyle Bar with 5 lines, and a 138 Team Series with North Boots.
What advice do you have for younger riders aspiring to be the best?
Start young, be brave, and even if the wind is light you can still get out and practice. When I was under 11 years old I was small enough to ride in 10 knts, which combined with flat water was perfect for learning tricks. I was also lucky to have brothers who I could ride with and film with, this helped me learn a lot. My mum and dad also run Edge Watersports and both love kitesurfing. Having a trampoline in my garden with a bar setup on it helped me learn the tricks off the water. For me, I just love being on the water! So the moment I get home from school i’m off to the beach, it’s only the wind that determines the discipline I practice.
What do projects do you have in the pipeline for this year and what can we expect to see from you?
My main mission right now is do well in my GCSE exams which i’ll finish on the 18th June. After that i’ll be spending as much time as possible training for the Freestyle tour. In July i’ll probably go to the Youth WKL in Costa Brava, followed by the Youth European Twin Tip racing event in Gizzeria. In 2018 the Youth Olympics will showcase kitesurfing in Argentina and I would love to represent Great Britain. I’ve never raced before, but I reckon i’ll get the hand of it and refine some racing skills. I have some projects planned with Red Bull and also want to start doing some rail and kicker riding. I’ll also be working hard on my physical strength, paying attention to my knee. I’m aware that with the level of riding going up my legs need to be much stronger. I’m really excited for the summer and can’t wait to ride with some of the top guys.
Thanks to North Kiteboarding for this interview
At age 16, Tom is officially part of Red BullUK and is super excited to working with the brand on projects to bring kitesurfing closer to the mainstream media. Tom is looking forward to finishishing his exams this June so that he can focus 100% to push his freestyle level so that he can qualify for the World Freestyle tour in 2018. Tom will also be training for the Youth olympic Games (YOG) in 2018 where kitesurfing will have 1 medal for girls & 1 medal for boys under 18′s category twintip racing.
Red Bull Ragnarok takes place on the plains of the Hardangervidda, a vast area with ideal conditions for snowkiting. The race format is a mass start, where over 350 snowboarders & skiers from over 29 nations gathered with their kites in the air about to embark on the huge challenge. With waxed skis for the deep soft snow, we all had our smaller kites. Guy got off to a great start and managed to hold his 12th position for the 5 hours. The course was ridiculous – long leg burning legs around gates that were on the ridge of steep mountain sides where winds were either blowing over 44knots with a snow storm or down in the valley dropping to 5knots & soft very sticky snow.
Grenadines Kitesurf Safari
Its a 20km sprint from Rottnest Island to Leighton through a busy shipping channel with a confused water state & plenty of clumps of seaweed to throw you off! This year for the first time, Guy joined the race, using his levitaz hydrofoil & 9mtr kite Guy was fast all the way – close 2nd to Nico Parlier.