Kitesurfer Bruno Sroka claims Channel record

Bruno Sroka
Image caption Bruno Sroka and his team celebrate the crossing in Plymouth

A French kitesurfer is claiming to have broken a record for crossing the English Channel.

Bruno Sroka, 36, arrived off Plymouth Sound after a four hour and 45 minute crossing from Saint Quay Portrieux in Brittany.

He is claiming the fastest time for the 95-mile crossing, beating the record of five hours 20 minutes set by fellow Frenchman Manu Bertin in 2004.

Sroka also wanted to draw attention to kitesurfing as a future Olympic sport.

It was announced on 7 May that kitesurfing - or kiteboarding - will replace windsurfing at the 2016 Games in Rio.

Sroka, from Brest, set off from Saint Quay Portrieux at about 10:00 BST on Thursday with a support boat as back-up in south-easterly winds.

The tide was running against the wind of up to 28 knots (32mph), creating swell up to 9ft (2.7m) high, he said.

"It was really hard, I had to concentrate so much," he said.

Image caption Bruno Sroka pictured before he faced swell up to 9ft (2.7m) high in the Channel

"The most difficult thing was to stay in the same position for so long. My legs took the worst of the strain and now I can hardly walk."

Sroka, who is three times European course racing champion and has sailed round Cape Horn, added: "I wanted to promote kitesurfing as a serious sport - not just a beach sport - which is ready for the Olympic Games.

"It is a pity that windsurfing has gone from the Olympics - I am a windsurfer too - but kite surfing is a mixture of windsurfing, wake-boarding and sailing which matches the Olympic spirit of harmony."

He now hopes someone from Britain can attempt to beat his record.

Sir Richard Branson abandoned a bid to kite surf across the English Channel in 2010 after two attempts were scuppered by the weather.

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