The email came in around August to see if we, the full Team Bridge wanted to attend the best ever kite race in the southern Hemisphere: The RedBull Lighthouse to Leighton Race. August is always manic & never enough time to give the whole trip our total thought.
However, saying YES is what we do & this time all 5 of us to travel & be together for the journey. With over 150kg’s of wave, freestyle, foil & Camping gear between us, travelling Light was NOT an option.
We had 3 days to get familiar with the short sprint from Rotto to Leighton and remind ourselves of the incredible force of the daily ‘Doctor’ that delivers 20 – 30knots thermal S/SE winds everyday from around 11am. Attracting 160 kiters from around WA & other parts of the world the day begins at 7am at The ferry Terminal with the loading of gear onto the ferry, registration & huge banter amongst the athletes all setting off to cross the stretch of water together. My 4th time back, we enjoy catching up with old Perth friends who welcome us like we are residents. For Eric, the very relaxed approach & enjoyed the vibe, not dis-similar to other red bull distance races he had been part of.
Unlike most other days, this day was hotter -up to 40degrees and this meant that the reliable ‘Doctor’ was late & not scheduled to be as strong. A start time scheduled for 1530hrs and we all set off eager to be the first across the line. Twenty minutes later Olly arrived at Leighton Beach to a huge crowd and being the only person to have won this crossing twice and just 20 seconds off the record. Missing out on a podium position, Guy took 4th and I came in 11th overall & 1st woman. Eric could have used some more power but finished the challenge around mid fleet while Tom had his own problems back at Rottnest Island. While we were all busy celebrating, Tom was stuck on the beach at Rotto with a broken bridle & waiting for his return ferry back to mainland!
It wasn’t long before the jet lag eased & we soon settled into the Australian life of Kite- Eat- Sleep – Repeat! Missing out on everything christmas we soon swop the flat water of Woodmans point (‘Woodies) for the small Neo’s & wave boards.
Pitching the tents at ‘Margies’ we were now officially on holiday. Wifi, mobile reception non existent and mornings surfing & swimming were soon followed by our first dosing of ‘eric’s kitchen’. Back of the truck Omlette’s & coffee were cooked while the team discussed how the rest of the day would pan out. The arrival of some female company: Daniela from San Franciso who traded her foil for wave gear & braved staying with the Bridge family in a tent!! Blessed with long hot windy days, cool nights and an abundance of wild life, kangaroo’s & bronzed well toned ‘Blow Inn’s. Cooking for 6 people meant we got through some calories! A rather unique shopping experience to re-stock at the local town- Margret River: home to the best wineries & coffee shops, the small town boosts raw living & a hippie culture to the max.
On the bigger days we kited at ‘Boaties’: The break closer to the boat ramp while the smaller days were spent dodging and trying to not make any enemies at ‘MainBreak’. There is not a watersports enthusiast out there that would not froth on the set up in Margret River. The area truly is world class with reliable winds, swells & incredible surf early mornings when the wind is off-shore. By 5pm when we had all spent hours focussing the mind, body & soul on the swells of the session, the wind would get lighter & start the evening swing back to cross off. (often not quite enough to ride)
Evening sun set was spent cooking overlooking ‘main break’ & being part of the evening sundance of shooting stars. Christmas came & went with sessions moulding into each other until another bigger swell arrived to help us celebrate New Year in style. Time to get back to work, school, planning, organising, emailing, decision making and all stuff which surely could wait till next week! Yes, maybe there is time for 1 more wave & another session???