Richard Branson sets Channel kite-surf record

Agence France-Presse
The tycoon finally succeeds two years after his first attempt to kite-surf across the Channel.

BRANSON AND KITE SURFING. The British tycoon is no neophyte when it comes to record attempts. Screen grab from YouTube (virginactiveuk)

LONDON, United Kingdom – British tycoon Richard Branson on Sunday became the oldest person to kite-surf the Channel, a day after abandoning an attempt due to his kite being too small.

The billionaire adventurer crossed from Dymchurch, Kent, to Wimereux in northern France in three hours, 45 minutes to set a new Guinness World Record.

However, Branson failed in his bid to become the fastest person of any age to cross the Channel, a record that was set by his son Sam on Saturday.

“It’s great to be standing on French soil and not be surrounded by French police,” said the 61-year-old.

“It’s wonderful for the family to have set three world records in two days. I have even more respect for Sam’s world record having taken so long myself to get across.

“The trip was far more challenging than I thought, with 40 mph winds in the middle of the Channel and major waves.

“I have to admit there were moments when I was tempted to abandon it. The wind direction was the opposite of what had been forecast.

“I expected to scream across but was greeted with a long, downstream kite that took considerably longer.”

Branson abandoned Saturday’s attempt at the halfway point after realising his kite was too small.

“All was going fine until we reached half way across and could clearly see the white cliffs of Dover,” the Virgin entrepreneur, who had tried to set the same records two years ago, wrote on his blog.

“The chase boat then told me that I needed to go more up wind 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.”

Branson’s first attempt to kite-surf across the Channel, in August 2010, was thwarted by strong winds and a choppy sea. The next day, the winds were too weak for the journey.

Branson is no stranger to record attempts.

In 1987 he and Swedish aeronaut Per Lindstrand became the first people to cross the Atlantic by hot air balloon, while in 1991, he was in the first balloon to cross the Pacific from Japan to Arctic Canada.

Between 1995 and 1998 he, Lindstrand and US adventurer Steve Fossett tried to travel nonstop around the world by balloon. – Agence France-Presse

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