On Saturday 30th June, Sir Richard Branson’s son, Sam, achieved the world record as the fastest person to cross the English Channel from Wimereux in northern France to Hythe in a record 2hrs 18mins. 12 minutes quicker than the previous record held by Flexifoil since 1999. The team also achieved the largest group to cross with a record nine people. Sir Richard left Wimereux on his first attempt but the wind dropped slightly and his kite just couldn’t generate enough power to keep him going. But in true ‘Richard Branson style’ he was back the next day to ‘finish the job’.
Sir Richard entered the record books on Sunday 1st July as the oldest person to kitesurf the English Channel having set off from Dymchurch, Kent, to Wimereux. The crossing took 3rs 45mins in heavy seas. Winds were gusting 40mph and coupled with a 20ft swell mid-channel, it was a truly amazing effort.
Flexifoil’s owner Anthony Van Dort was on the lead boat with Captain Trevor Oldfield Hodge. Anthony said, “At some points, there were walls of water 20ft high in between Richard and me. The sea was very unforgiving. But despite the howling winds which were way more than forecasted, pushing enormous waves into his path, Richard attached to his 9m Proton kite kept 100% focussed and saw it through brilliantly.”
Sir Richard said to Anthony on Sunday night once everyone was reunited with family and friends at the Mercure Hotel in Hythe, “when you waved at me every so often as I went off course, I loathed it (laughing) yet you gave me the encouragement at every junction to keep going and we did it! A big thank you to Flexifoil and their team for making it happen.”