TOM BRIDGE JOINS RED BULL
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