01. Him And His Kite Are Mates
Usually, if you go for a move and your kite makes its way to the wrong side of the window, you’re doomed. Not Tom. Somehow, his kite position doesn’t affect him. It can be headed in the complete opposite direction to him, whilst he’s mid air, and he just gets on with the landing and then deals with the kite at a time more suitable to him. It’s weird and I don’t know how he gets away with it.
02. He Doesn’t Wear Wet Wetsuits
Even if it’s perfect conditions – if the wettie is wet, he’s not going in. It’s okay though because he has about 6 of every thickness, in constant cycles of drying.
03. He Takes Off Toeside In 30knots
There seems to be no upper wind limit to which Tom can unhook. He’s a big guy, yes, but that doesn’t account for him being happy to unhook on a 11m North Pulse when everyone else is too scared to unhook on 9s. He simply pops from toeside, and goes with the kite, letting it take him 20m downwind whilst he does his twirls and chucks the bar around his back.
I think he must have mad grip strength. And I think toeside take offs are maybe quite an efficient way to dissipate power – your entire bodyweight is behind your edge. You’re naturally straighter, too, as opposed to being all bent over when taking off from heelside. That’s my guess, anyway. Who knows though. Maybe it’s magic.
04. He’s Bored Of Flat Water.
Yeah he’s not a fan of the flats. Not exciting. No possibilities. Too easy. He’d rather knee high chop than butter flat.
05. He’s Bored Of Everything.
Conventional tricks, to him, are dull. Why? Growing up, he dominated junior freestyle. No one came close to his level. He was doing doubles before he was 12. So next time you get all excited about some grom on the internet, compare them to a young Tom Bridge, and calm down. He’s been doing this shit for over a decade. And he’s only 20.
06. He Wears Ronix Boots.
Because North don’t make boots big enough to fit him. Lol. Think he has to buy the Ronix ones as well.
07. He adapts his North bar
He leashes onto the chicken loop and his self-purchased Dring that he buys from a local sailing merchants. This makes it easier to put the bar into suicide mode whilst still giving him the freedom to eject.
08. He Rides The Pulse Religiously
Why? It retains its line tension in between tricks. Without that, the lines wouldn’t happen as easily. And there’s also the fact that because the Pulse isn’t a true C-Kite, it’s liftier. Not as much as the Orbit (which he can still do 9s on btw), but still more than you’d usually want for freestyle. He uses the liftiness. It enables him to keep his kite higher than his freestyle predecessors, which has unlocked more tricks, whilst not sacrificing any steeze.
It is outrageous that he doesn’t get more shouted at online for his kite height. But that’s a testament to the sheer amount of style he can produce at a moments notice.
09. He Doesn’t Like Being Filmed.
At all. Especially if it’s me behind the lens. And god forbid if it was anyone else. They would get eaten alive. Tom and I lack enough respect for one another that we’ll happily shout at eachother about missing tricks or not being paid or nagging him to ride because that’s his one and only job or me being a bit demanding or him being a child.
But do we get the job done? Sometimes. And do we make stuff in a way that hasn’t been done before? Sometimes.
10. He Broke The GKA
He turned up, rode lines and did things that had never been done before in a competitive setting. Six NBDs in 3 heats.
Initially the judges responded positively to him. This was a shock and there was one point where we thought he might end up going quite deep. But then they did a U-turn and started dishing out 3s and 5s. To be blunt, I think he confused them so much that they lost control.
11. He Is Unapologetic. In A Good Way.
There is a tricky line between showing his true attitude towards the sport and where it is heading, and setting his career on fire. I have gotten this wrong in the past. It is easy to sympathise when you take into account that he has been bred for freestyle, which in 2022, is in a state of disrepair.
But to me, Tom is the most interesting thing in kiteboarding. The way he rides is cool, yeah. However, the way he carries himself and deals with the pressure is refreshing and something the audience has never seen. He jumps off the screen in interview and on the water. But it also makes him look careless. Which corporate giants do not enjoy. This is a shame because, in my opinion, no one cares more about freestyle kiteboarding than Tom Bridge.