Discovery

Kitesurfing on the edge, with Steph Bridge

by Ed Scott

Combining the excitement of surfing with the grace and power of sailing, kitesurfing is ideal for thrill-seekers looking to make the most of the UK’s epic coastline.

In the world of kitesurfing, few people are as experienced as Steph Bridge. As a five-time kite racing world champion, she’s used to competing around the world at the highest international level. But it’s the waters of South Devon that she has always called home. 

Along with her husband Eric, Steph runs Edge Watersports, based on the Exmouth waterfront. Offering kitesurfing sessions for beginners and advanced athletes alike, as well as swimming, SUP, and wingsurfing, Edge Watersports have helped put Exmouth on the map as a world-renowned watersports destination. 

We spoke to Steph to find out more about the growing popularity of kitesurfing, and why Exmouth is such a great place to learn the sport.

kitesurfing exmouth

Why kitesurfing?

Having grown up on the coast, Steph has always had a passion for the water. But it was sailing, not kitesurfing, that she and Eric first taught professionally for 15 years. “Around the turn of the millennium, kitesurfing started to become really big,” Steph told us. “We decided to learn it, and quite soon we had people asking us if we could teach them.”

Steph and Eric soon realised that Exmouth was the ideal place to learn to kitesurf, in part because of the many shallow sandbanks which line the Exe estuary. They founded Edge Watersports to help introduce more people to the area, naming the company in honour of its location on the edge of the Duckpond, a favourite local kitesurfing spot. 

“In Exmouth, we get really good conditions. We can access different parts of the river depending on the tide, and in the summer there’s a great thermal wind. Even if there is not much wind forecast the conditions are still great because of that thermal effect.”

eric bridge kitesurfing

A family affair

Steph and Eric have worked together for the best part of three decades, a fact they believe is key to their success. “We are a local family running a local business,” Steph explained. “Every aspect of the business we run ourselves - we speak with customers on the phone, we provide guidance on gear, we welcome everyone who walks through the door. We are truly passionate about what we do.” 

That passion has spread to the entire Bridge family - Steph and Eric’s sons Olly, Tom, and Guy are renowned kitesurfers in their own right, having won multiple podium spots at a number of freestyle and racing competitions between them. 

“The boys started kitesurfing from a really young age. They did a lot of competitions, and they all pushed each other on. Because I was also competing we often travelled and competed together.”

Today, the family team is known as Team Bridge, and have over 35 World and European titles to their name. Olly, Tom, and Guy continue to compete around the world. 

olly bridge kitesurfing

The future of Edge Watersports

From its origins as a fringe sport, kitesurfing has very much entered the mainstream, and Steph believes it is here to stay. “Now that kitesurfing is in the Olympics, more people are going to come into the sport, so it’s only going to grow.”

In order to grow with the sport, Edge Watersports recently moved into the eco-friendly Sideshore watersports centre in Exmouth. The state-of-the-art development is also home to their dedicated shop, an artist’s studio, and the hip Hangtime Cafe, co-run by eldest son Olly. 

“Before, we were quite hidden - now we’re in the new centre, we’ll have the opportunity to introduce more people to the water, which is really what it’s all about. Kitesurfing is really an accessible sport, and the equipment is getting more affordable. It’s fantastic exercise, and it’s a great thing to do with the family.”

sideshore watersports centre exmouth

It’s clear that Steph and her team are deeply passionate about supporting the future of kitesurfing. As one of the sport’s pioneers, her expertise is second to none, and her years of experience have helped make Exmouth the ‘place to be’ for kitesurfers around the country. 

If you’re in or around Exmouth, make sure you pop into Edge Watersports to say hello and book onto an introductory ‘Kitesurfing Discovery’ session. Or, if you’re looking for something more chilled out, why not give stand-up paddleboarding a go?

Be sure to follow eola  on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to keep up with the latest updates and adventure activities available near you!

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