This month has been very good for our 4 x World Champion Steph Bridge who has just picked up her last title in Germany, here she tells us all about here latest conquest in Germany, and what shes been up to!
This is the deal: 100 racers embark on this small island in the North of Germany for 6 days to all race for the World title. I am racing in the production class- something that in 2012 will be mandatory for all riders. This means I have to register 1 board & 3 kites so as well as being a good weather person I just need to make a quick decision on which sizes I will use for the next 6 days- bearing in mind we are on the north sea & last year when I was here it never went above 10knots!!Reluctantly I handed in my form- 16, 13, 10mtr –just the same as all the blokes!!! Then I just looked again at the synoptic chart & quickly crossed out the 16mtr & added an 8mtr kite. This was a tricky one since not only do North have amazing big Dyno kites but also I now really did need it to be over 15knots each day. This has proven so far to be a smart move.
The Grand Opening Ceremony was magic with countries participating in this event I had barley heard off! All the ‘luthania’s then USA, Brazil, Australia, China & europe–it was really great to be part of such a massive event. (over 150 competitors) Entering his first European event-Ned /Ted held the Union Jack & was joined by fellow UK representatives : Luke Whiteside, Ben Todd & Hannah Whiteley. Shortly followed the Skippers meeting which was a huge affair & then the we hit the water with a straight 4 x races.
Poor decision making resulted in me loosing the first 2 races- not the best way to start my World Championship come back. Influenced by male dominated friends all taking 13mtr kites & with a bolt off-shore wind there was no way of going out for a quick test to check the conditions. Back of my mind was looking on the horizon & seeing white caps but when I even mentioned I was thinking of going out on my 10mtr kite – the team just laughed. Now I rig in a completely different area so as to not get influenced. So after a beating in 23knots trying to hold down a 13mtr kite on 32cm lines with big fins, I downsize all round & attempt to make it back out to the start which was way offshore. A steady 2 x bulletts in race 3 & 4 meant that I was now back in with a chance.
Day 2 & 3 I sailed consistently, either powered on the 8mtr Rebel 2012 or the dyno 10mtr kite & just did my thing. Preperation, going out on the water early & getting transits & mentally sorted. Long days & late finishes but its not dark till mid-night
This was the most challenging conditions I have ever kitesurfed in. Everyone that raced today deserves a medal including the crazy guys in the rib & jet ski’s making it all happen for the world championships. My smallest kite registered was an 8mtr rebel so this was it- no choices. The wind was 25-30knots but it was this huge swell with breaking sets all over the course that spiced the racing up a notch! I felt pretty on the edge & it turns out I was not the only one! Anyway we all did it & by 8.30pm we were back on the beach buzzing with the achievement of racing in these narly conditions. It was an upwind /downwind course & it was all about commitment- confidence to loop the kite & just go hell for leather down the rolling sets. I won 3 out of the 4 races this day so now had 9 bulletts & was clear ahead with 1 day to go. If they did not race tomorrow I had it in the bag & was hoping this would be the case with the swell forcast.
DAY 5- This was the best day since racing was cancelled & I went wave riding on a 5mtr Rebel with next years Whip. It was like a bigger Westward Ho! Day & faster wave sets coming in but was just so relaxing to be in a waist harness without big fins, Straps & just doing what I really love.
The closing Ceremony & prize given was a grand affair & standin g up there on the Podium with the national Anthem banging through the crowds was an amazing experience. So there I was thinking this was a pretty proud moment- perhaps I should do it for 1 more year- Brazil 2012???? So the massive thanks went to Eric for allowing his wife & business partner to disappear for a week, To little Guy for watering the veg & fruit, to oliver for a decent training partner, to Callum for the mainsheet, to the staff fo keeping the kiteschool going, to North for making the best kites & boards & not forgetting my parents for introducing me to the ocean at such a young age. Looking forward to being back in the UK for some summer again!!!!
I would also like to mention Ben Todd – it was his first World Championship & on a few races he was top 10 round the windward mark. Ben kept himself out of the protest room & kite tangles. He has a great future ahead of him for kite racing & deserves recognition for his acheievement in Germany.
Visit Stephs Blog to find out the latest news on her and what shes been up to. Click Here
Photos by Axel Reece