KITE-SURFING finally achieves recognition as an Olympic discipline this week when the Devon family at the top of the sport get the chance to showcase their skills in Denmark.
Steph Bridge and her Exmouth sons, Guy and Olly, will make their Hempel Sailing World Championships debut ahead of the kites proposed inclusion in the Paris 2024 Games.
Guy was recently crowned Formula Kite European champion, while Olly took the runners-up spot. Their mum, who founded Edge Watersports in 2004 with her husband, Eric, is a five-times kite race World champion.
The quadrennial sailing championships will be contested by 1,125 athletes from 83 countries. Racing in Aarhus, which starts on Thursday and continues until Sunday, August 12, also features more than 30 West Country dinghy sailors taking on the biggest test so far in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic cycle.
Included in Great Britain’s 66-strong squad are the team’s flag-bearer, Beijing 2008 bronze medallist Bryony Shaw. The 35-year-old from Weymouth returned to RS:X windsurfing competition this season following the birth of her son, Jaddek, in June last year.
Launceston’s 22-year-old twin sisters, Saskia and Imogen Sills, who sail at Roadford Lake, are also in the windsurfing competition, along with Weymouth 19-year-old Lily Young.
The men’s boardsailing event features the Sills’ 25-year-old brother, Sam, and Exeter University’s Matt Barton, 22.
Rio 2016 gold medallist Hannah Mills, 30, who fell in love with the sport on a holiday to Mylor, near Falmouth, as a schoolgirl, again teams up with Eilidh McIntyre in the 470 women’s class, which also includes 26-year-old former Bristol University student Anna Carpenter, crewing for Amy Seabright.
Reigning 49er World champions Dylan Fletcher and Portland’s Stuart Bithell, 31, will be joined in their fleet by Bristol’s James Peters, 25, and Fynn Sterritt, as well as 23-year-old River Fal sailors Jack Hawkins and Chris Thomas, and Torquay 21 year-old Morgan Peach, who helms for Rhos Hawes.
In the men’s 470 division, Weymouth’s London 2012 silver medallist Luke Patience, who celebrates his 32nd birthday on Saturday, will be on the start line with crew Chris Grube.
Former Plymouth University graduate James Taylor, who will also celebrate his 21st birthday during the regatta, crews for Martin Wrigley, and Swanage helm Ben Whaley, 18, is teamed with Ryan Orr.
A packed Laser Standard entry will see Exeter’s Rio 2016 Olympian and two-time World champion Nick Thompson, 32, compete alongside Plymouth-based 24-year-old Lorenzo Chiavarini and Dorchester 21-year-old Jack Cookson.
Chiavarini was born in Rome, grew up in Scotland but studied at university in Plymouth.
In the 49er FX, recent European bronze medallists, 29-year-olds Sophie Weguelin (Portland) and Sophie Ainsworth (Weymouth) will race alongside Medemblik Regatta gold medallists Charlotte Dobson, 32, from Weymouth, and Saskia Tidey, as well as Weymouth 21-year-old Ellie Aldridge and her crew, Megan Brickwood.
European Finn class champion Ed Wright will also be among those on the start line, although Rio 2016 gold medallist Giles Scott (Weymouth) has opted not to compete in order to focus his training on the first Olympic test event in September.
Budleigh Salterton’s Ben Cornish, 26, is the Finn man in form while the promising Cameron Tweedle (Weymouth) gets his chance on the big stage.
Portland 31-year-old single-hander Alison Young heads up the girls’ Laser Radial class and Weymouth’s Ben Saxton, 28, is joined by Nicola Boniface in the Nacra 17 mixed multihull, where Restronguet (Falmouth) sailors Benno Marstaller and Chloe Collenette are also competing.