Sir Richard Branson sets new Channel kitesurfing record

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Sir Richard Branson completing world record
Image caption,
Sir Richard Branson made the journey in three hours, 45 minutes

Sir Richard Branson has become the oldest person to kitesurf across the English Channel.

The 61-year-old crossed from Dymchurch, Kent, to Wimereux in northern France in three hours, 45 minutes to set the new Guinness World Record.

It was his second attempt in 24 hours, after turning back on Saturday because his kite was too small.

He said the journey was "far more challenging" than he expected, with strong winds and large waves.

The multi-millionaire had wanted to break a record set by his son for the fastest kitesurf crossing, but failed to secure it.

Sir Richard and his son, Sam, were part of a team that kitesurfed from France to Kent on Saturday.

Fastest group

But while Sam made the 30-mile journey from Wimereux to Folkestone in two hours and 18 minutes, shaving 12 minutes off the previous record set in 1999, Sir Richard had to abort his challenge.

He vowed to try again, saying he wanted to "finish the job".

Eight friends and relatives went on to complete the journey, creating a new record for being the fastest group of kitesurfers to make the Channel crossing.

After arriving in France, Sir Richard, who turns 62 next month, said: "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 40mph 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."

Almost two years ago, Sir Richard had to abandon a Channel crossing kitesurf record bid to celebrate his 60th birthday.

In 1987, he set the record for the first hot air balloon to cross the Atlantic.

And in 1991, he was in the first balloon to cross the Pacific from Japan to Arctic Canada.

From 1995 to 1998, Sir Richard, Per Lindstrand and Steve Fossett made attempts to circumnavigate the globe by balloon.

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