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Nov 26 - Dec 8, 2019
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Like mother, like sons – saga of a British family

A family from Great Britain is the cynosure at the Kitefoil Racing competitions on the Katara Beach.
Stephanie Bridge With Her Two Sons, Oliver (right) And Guy Soon After The Men’s And Women’s Kitefoil Racing Competitions On The Katara Beach
Stephanie Bridge with her two sons, Oliver (right) and Guy soon after the men’s and women’s Kitefoil Racing competitions on the Katara Beach. IQ Photo: Vinod Divakaran

A mother and her two sons, all three of them athletes supreme and taking part in an international competition – that’s something rare in the world of sport. And that was exactly what was on view at the Katara Beach in the Kitefoil Racing competitions.

Stephanie Bridge and her two sons – Oliver and Guy – from Great Britain took part in the men’s and women’s competitions tackling the windy conditions in the late afternoon on the waters off the Katara Beach. Stephanie is a five-time Kite World champion while Oliver is the 2016 European Race champion and his brother Guy is a former World Youth Freestyle champion.

So, what prompted the family to get into Kitefoil Racing? “It’s all my father’s fault really,” said Stephanie whose father Spud Rowsell was a sailor. “He got me into sailing at a very young age and then I switched from sailing to wind surfing and to Kitefoil Racing. My sons followed me into it,” she added.

The elder of her two sons, 22-year-old Oliver, said, “We live near the beach and the water and of course my mother was into it, so we naturally took up the sport.”

Twenty-year-old Guy, who incidentally finished second in Race 1 on Sunday, said, “The sport involves a lot of speed and I like that. My brother and I used to go racing whenever it was windy at a very young age and then we started taking part in competitions”.

The family lives in East Devon, a small town in Devon in England. “It’s a very pretty town and it’s also very wet. The weather is actually really great for Kitefoil Racing,” said Stephanie.

Although Stephanie has been instrumental in getting the boys into Kitefoil Racing, she is not their coach.

“I am more of a mentor, someone off whom they can bounce their ideas,” she said. And the role of mentor involved accompanying them to competitions in their early years in the sport but not so much now. “They are very independent and can manage on their own now,” she said.

At the moment the Bridges are a force to reckon with at the international level, but Stephanie said with the sport getting the nod for the 2024 Paris Olympics, it is bound to become more competitive.

“The sport is definitely growing and the competitions will get tougher in the future. It’s very difficult to predict whether Oliver or Guy will excel or even continue in the sport. They are very young and they need to really want to be in the sport. Maybe one of them will continue and the other won’t,” she said.

Whether Paris 2024 will see the family compete together again remains to be seen. For now though, the Bridges are creating waves in more ways than one.