3 members of the Bridge family, who collectively make up Team Bridge, are taking to the waters around the Isle of Wight over the last week of June in an attempt to beat the World Sailing Speed Record for the fastest time around the Island. A large multihull, Foncia, with a time of 2 hours, 21 minutes and 25 seconds, currently holds the record.
Team Bridge are all professional kitesurfers and have set themselves this latest challenge after a phenomenally successful start to the year. Mum, Steph Bridge, is 5-time World Kite Race Champion and along with her sons Olly, 18 and Guy, 16, is at the peak of the sport. At present, Guy is the 2015 British Hydrofoil Champion, whilst Olly is the Vice World and European Race Champion. Dad Eric, who runs the family’s watersports centre in Exmouth, and youngest son Tom, 15, who holds his own title of 4-time European Youth Freestyle Champion, will make up part of the support crew for this challenge.
The 3 Team Volvo athletes will ride on hydrofoil kiteboards, reaching speeds of up to 30 knots. The boards are fitted with large knife-like foils beneath them, designed to lift the rider clear above the water for increased speed. Conditions can be unpredictable around the Isle of Wight and the athletes will need 3 safety boats, a team of medical personnel and several kite handlers on hand to support them.
The pressure is on for the family to juggle intense training with staying injury free so as not to jeopardise their chances of achieving the record. Steph is also busy trying to recreate some of the more difficult conditions they will face around the island. She said:
“Creating the nasty sea state we experience around St Catherine’s Point is tricky. It’s important to ensure our foils work in this since this is a long stretch and if we are not happy with the set up then we cannot push the equipment hard enough.”
As the weather improves, the kitesurfers will begin their distance training. Olly adds:
“The plan is to kite to Portland and Brixham, two local landmarks. The next couple of weeks are all about hours on the water, as endurance training is different to the race training we have been doing.”
The kitesurfing challenge will take place between 29th June-1st July, with the weather being the deciding factor for the final date of the record attempts. The challenge will coincide with the world famous J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race, being held on 2nd July.
The public can follow the kitesurfers throughout their challenge via a tracker on the volvocars.co.uk/kitesurfing website.