Eric and Steph Bridge first began their water sports business in Exmouth with ‘Spinnakers’. This was an evolving dinghy sailing school which was a huge part of their growing family’s life. The site was taken over for development at the same time as kitesurfing was starting to get popular, so it became apparent that teaching kitesurfing would be a great lifestyle choice for their family. They never had to repair a dinghy again!
Twenty years and multiple world championships later, Edge Watersports is a testament to both Steph and Eric’s hard work. In addition to this, Exmouth has become a worldwide destination for water sports of all kinds.
We talk to Steph about their small business journey…
Building a Business Around Your Passion
“Edge Watersports was born at the ‘Edge’ of the duck pond in 2003 where we ran the shop and centre before getting evicted once more to make way for a Pub. We re-established the business at Exmouth Harbour while always looking for a site closer to Exmouth Seafront. This dream came true in 2020!
The new centre is an extension of what we are passionate about. The wind, the water, the ever changing weather, the ebb and flow of the tide. The thrill of boosting a massive jump, catching a wave, winning a regatta, paddling the river and ensuring that you are getting the most out of your sport!
We are not just any old shop: the whole team has a huge wealth of experience, knowledge and advice that when you walk through the door you can tap into.”
For the Bridges, water sports and business is in the blood. Eric and Steph’s three sons, Guy, Tom and Olly are all very much involved in the Edge Watersports business, and of course the water sports lifestyle. In 2016 Guy became the youngest & fastest single handed sailor to circumnavigate the Isle of Wight.
Their youngest son, Tom, has been European freestyle Youth Champion since 2010, won the 2013 & 2014 PKRA Youth World Championships and Virgin Kitesurf Junior world Champion 2015. Tom has recently just been signed by Redbull. Whereas Olly, their oldest caught the business bug and opened their very own venture ‘Hangtime Cafe’ with his partner Megan in 2020.
Building the Water Sports Community
While Steph herself holds a plethora of awards – a 5 Kite Race World Champion, 2014 World Sailing Rolex Sailor of the Year nominee, and multiple world record holder. Steph states that the community they have built in Exmouth is what she and Eric as small business owners are the most proud of;
“Water sports is all about community and that’s what we’re most proud of having built in Exmouth alongside our business over the last thirty years. Whether we’re saying hello to the group of wild swimmers who set off from the ‘Edge’ each morning, or welcoming international athletes, world champions and members of the British Sailing Team.
Exmouth offers a huge variety of conditions at all states of Tide for all pillars of the pyramid. International athletes, and members of the British Sailing Team for kitesurfing practice on the waters to keep them at the top of their sport. The Edge Experience is sure to leave you wanting more so come along and see us at Sideshore where we can share some energy that the Edge way brings.”
Like any other business Steph and Eric have faced challenges over the years. Convincing their local authority that they are here for the benefit of the community hasn’t been easy.
“We’ve been working behind the scenes for ten years to create our new Centre which is now such an asset to Exmouth.
We pay a huge amount just to be able to access the water, but it’s just one of those challenges you have to deal with as a business owner. We’ve got loads of really exciting events lined up for Spring and Summer 2023, which we can’t currently talk about but keep an eye on our socials or better yet, drop in down to Exmouth to give all things water sports a go!”
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