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Extreme sport is totally addictive, warn enthusiasts- Express & Echo

World kitesurf  racing champion  Steph Bridge  and  her husband, Eric, have  set up  a kitesurfing school in Exmouth  GARETH WILLIAMS EE300109_03_02 

PUT together kite flying and surfing — plus some other sports such as wakeboarding and windsurfing — and you get kitesurfing, the latest extreme sport to take the world by storm.

In the right conditions, experts can race across the water at 80km per hour and leap 20m from the surface to perform manoeuvres in mid-air.

Steph Bridge, 36, who owns and runs Edge Watersports in Exmouth, alongside her husband, Eric, has been kitesurfing since 2001.

She is the current world champion of kitesurf racing as well as a former national freestyle champion.

Steph shares her expertise with people who want to learn how to kitesurf in the quiet and shallow water of the Exe Estuary.

Click here!“It’s more accessible than other watersports,” said Steph. “It needs less wind than windsurfing. The equipment is relatively small so you can travel with it easily.

“The main challenges for beginners are learning how to fly the kite, learning when it’s not suitable to go out and maintaining some life outside kitesurfing once you’ve tried it and got addicted.”

The oldest person Steph has taught was 75. “You need a good feel for the wind, good board skills and a go-for-it attitude, all of which you can learn,” she added.

Matthew Thomas, also from Exmouth, got into kitesurfing three and a half years ago from a powerkiting background — a land-based version of the sport. Once he tried kitesurfing there was no going back.

The 22-year-old works part-time as a kitesurfing instructor and at a supermarket. He said kitesurfing never gets boring.

“The wind, sea and people around are always different,” said Matthew. “It changes all the time which keeps you fresh and wanting more.

“You’re the link between the wind and the sea. It’s a hostile territory and an unnatural place for a human to be. When it’s really windy it’s a challenge. You feel quite little again and at the mercy of the weather conditions.

“Sometimes it’s not windy enough to go, so it stays special.”

He said that kitesurfers do not need to be fit athletes, but have to understand weather and tide, which comes with experience.

Joe Sherbrooke, 47, a nurse from Ottery St Mary, took up kitesurfing just under a year ago. He did a three-day course with Steph before getting his own kit. He now goes out three times a week.

“I did quite a lot of sailing,” said Joe. “I saw the kitesurfers on the seafront. It looked like they were having a lot more fun than me.

“I tried it and it is more fun. It’s much more exciting. It’s really exhilarating.”

He also used to windsurf and said kitesurfing was quicker to learn.

“At first it seems more daunting as you’re hooked onto a kite, but once you can control that, progression seems fairly quick,” he said.

“I didn’t think I’d be this far yet. I’m off in head-high waves, jumping and putting in turns.”