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.