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Branson abandons kite-boarding bid

Sir Richard Branson has been forced to abandon his attempt to set two world records by kite-boarding across the English Channel.

Strong winds and a choppy sea made it unsafe for him to proceed with the 24-mile crossing and he turned back after just an hour and 10 minutes on the waves.

The Virgin entrepreneur had hoped to celebrate his 60th birthday by becoming the oldest person to cross the Channel by kite-board.

He was also aiming to make the fastest crossing by a kite-board team.

Accompanied by his children Holly, 29, and Sam, 26, and a number of others including Princess Beatrice's boyfriend Dave Clarke, 28, he set off from Dungeness in Kent, hoping to reach the French coast.

Beatrice was among the crowd of spectators standing on the shore to see them off.

But winds measuring up to six on the Beaufort scale prevented the safety boats from accompanying them on the crossing and Sir Richard reluctantly decided they should turn back.

If the attempt had been successful, Sir Richard and his group would have been the first to establish the Guinness world records. They were also hoping that one of them would beat the current record for the fastest solo crossing of the Channel by kite-board, which is two and a half hours.

A defiant Sir Richard said afterwards: "It was fantastic conditions for kiting but hellish conditions for the chase boats. The boats couldn't have done it and it's too dangerous for the kites to continue without them. We knew when we set off there was a risk of that."

Getting his kite up at the start was a struggle, he added. "There wasn't enough wind when I was trying to get my kite up," he said. "But it was full-on kiting (after that), that's for sure. We had a big argument with the boats as we did want to carry on, but in the end sense prevailed."


From Belfast Telegraph