Steph Bridge in action
Steph is world kite-surf champ
Devon's world champion kite-surfer Steph Bridge is hoping to see her sport become an Olympic event.
World champion kite-surfer Steph Bridge has been talking about her hopes for the fast growing water sport - which could soon be accepted as Olympic event.
Steph, 31, from Exmouth, secured the ladies title in the first ever world course racing series in Germany after three hard fought rounds over the summer of 2007.
Kite-surfing is the one of the latest extreme sports, involving racing over water on a surfboard propelled by a kite.
Experts can achieve speeds of 80km per hour and leap into the air to perform somersaults and manoeuvres up to 40m from the water's surface.
Steph receives her world title
"Kite-surfing came about a good 10 years ago now and it's currently the fastest growing sport in the world," said Steph.
"Each year we're finding more people are learning and they are now looking at bringing it into the Olympics.
"People are talking about 2012. Weymouth would be a fantastic spot to hold the kite-surfing Olympics. I think something will happen, whether or not it will happen by 2012 who knows, watch this space."
Steph is a leading kite-surfing instructor and was the 2006 British women's number one. She runs Edge Water Sports in Exmouth, with her husband and fellow kite-surfing enthusiast Eric.
"The kit has improved massively and that has helped with a lot of people's learning and with the safety of kite-surfing.
"It's a very accessible sport. You can get all the kit you need second hand for around £500. Once you've got the kit, you can kite-surf anywhere in the world.
Steph catches the wind
"You can go down to the local beach and providing there's wind and the conditions are good, you can go kite-surfing.
"Once you get the bug, you can forget doing anything else with your life really because everything is dictated by the wind.
"Kite-surfing is all about getting big amounts of air, using the kite to take you off the water and coming down again nice and softly. It's that air the you really want when you're doing kite-surfing."
The 2007 season has seen the introduction of course racing, a new discipline for the kite-surfing elite. And Steph has proved to be a strong contender on the world stage.
"I've been dabbling with the competitions in between working and bringing up a family," she explained.
"Originally kite-boarding was all about doing tricks and you're judged on the level of the trick and the success of carrying out that trick.
"The new discipline that's just been introduced this year is course racing which involves going around buoys on a marked course.
"It's very similar to racing in a boat or on a windsurfer - it's loads of fun because there are loads of kites involved and you can see who's winning.
"This year I've been away all over the world travelling and competing and I've become the world ladies champion - so I'm pretty happy with that.
"That's going to bring lots of opportunities for me, not only on the race tour but also as far as sponsorship goes."
With a world title under her belt, Steph is looking for new ways to promote the sport in Devon, while maintaining her training regime, both locally on the Exe Estuary and further afield.
"From here really it's training over the winter and working on a new board design for next year.
"The training involves me going to Mauritious, France and Brazil along with more local stuff.
"We're trying to get the course racing going locally and we're looking next year to running a River Exe series, where we're trying to encourage more people to get into it."
last updated: 24/01/2008 at 10:28