Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Branson renews kite-surf record bid

Sir Richard Branson is to have another pop at breaking a kite-surfing world record

Sir Richard Branson is to re-attempt to set two world records by kite-surfing across the English Channel - 24 hours after being forced to abort his initial bid.

The 61-year-old Virgin tycoon hopes to become the oldest person to cross the Channel and also break the record set by his son Sam on Saturday for the fastest kite-surf crossing.

Sir Richard joined Sam and other family members and friends in setting off from Wimereux in northern France with the aim of making the 30-mile journey to the Kent coast in around two and a half hours.

But as he was half-way across, Sir Richard, who turns 62 next month, realised his kite was too small and he had to turn back to France, but when he got there he found no larger kites.

There was joy, however, for his son who reached Folkestone in two hours and 18 minutes, shaving 12 minutes off the previous record for the fastest cross-Channel kite-surf which was set in 1999.

Sam and the eight others who finished also entered the record books as the fastest group of kite-surfers to make the Channel crossing, for which there was no previous record. The group had headed over to France in pirate outfits because of opposition by the French authorities to allow them to cross the sea, Sir Richard disclosed.

On Sunday, he is due to set off on his renewed cross-Channel challenge from Hythe in Kent at midday and cross over to France, weather permitting.

Speaking after his aborted attempt, Sir Richard said: "Sam and I had planned to try and beat the record together. All was going fine until we reached half-way across and could clearly see the White Cliffs of Dover.

"The chase boat then told me that I needed to go more upwind or I would collide with the white cliffs. Sadly my kite wasn't big enough, so I realised I needed to head back to France to get a larger kite. I told Sam to continue on to attempt to get the record.

"On getting back to France, I found that there were no larger kites but in the meantime Sam and my nephews and friends had a magnificent crossing."

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