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Richard Branson celebrating his record-breaking crossing. Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Silver Surfer

Video, photos: Virgin tycoon Richard Branson and son set kitesurfing records

The team also managed not to be arrested by the French police…

RICHARD BRANSON has successfully set a new record for his latest daring exploit: crossing the English Channel by kitesurf.

Branson, 61, is officially the oldest person to have kitesurfed the Channel. However, he missed out on breaking a second record during his run – a record his own son set earlier in the weekend.

Sam Branson managed to set the new record of 2 hours 18 minutes for the fastest Channel crossing by kitesurf. Not only that, but he and eight others managed to set a new group record for the crossing.

Richard had to abandon his first attempt at the crossing after being advised by the support team that his approach to the Cliffs of Dover needed to be accelerated or he risked hitting them – but he was unable to speed up due to the size of his kite. In his blog he explains that he decided to head back to France and get a bigger kite – but that there weren’t any there when he arrived.

He launched his second attempt yesterday, and admitted finding the going a bit tougher than expected:

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.

The billionaire adventurer made it across in 3 hours 45 minutes.

Video, photos: Virgin tycoon Richard Branson and son set kitesurfing records
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  • Channel Crossing

    Richard Branson, 61, kitesurfing the English Channel from Kent to northern France. (Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire)
  • Channel Crossing

    Branson en route to the record books for his crossing. (Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire)
  • Channel Crossing

    Branson, 61, celebrates his arrival at Wimereaux in northern France. (Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire)
  • Channel Crossing

    Branson and team on Folkstone Beach, Kent after he abandoned his first attempt on Saturday. (Tom Pugh/PA Wire)

French police showed up at one point and tried to arrest the team after Branson’s arrival on French soil. He says the group was unable to swim back to their boats because of the cold and the wave height, “so we half-jokingly asked the police if they would arrest us so we could get to cell and warm up for the night!”

“The police told us that the food in the cells wasn’t as good as in French restaurants. We were pleased their serious demeanor turned into a broad smile.”

Branson says that the police “luckily” had a sense of humour and let the team off “with a very firm warning not to do it again”.

(Video credit richardbranson)

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