Sir Richard Branson abandons English Channel kitesurf attempt

Sir Richard Branson during 2010 record attempt
Image caption Sir Richard also tried to kitesurf the English Channel in 2010

Sir Richard Branson has abandoned an attempt to kitesurf the English Channel and turned back to France after he found his kite was too small.

He had aimed to break two world records to become the oldest person to kitesurf the Channel and make the fastest crossing by a kite-surfing team.

The 61-year-old had planned to make the 30-mile journey to Kent in about two and a half hours.

He turned back but his friends and family continued.

The Virgin boss said he hoped to make the crossing on Sunday.

The team left Wimereux in northern France at midday.

'Told to go back'

Sir Richard's son, Sam, reached Folkestone in two hours and 18 minutes and became the fastest person to kitesurf solo across the Channel after he beat the previous record set in 1999 by 12 minutes.

Sam and eight others who finished also entered the record books as the fastest group of kitesurfers to make the Channel crossing, for which there was no previous record.

After sailing to Folkestone beach, Sir Richard said: "I got half-way across and the kite was foolishly too small for me.

"I was heading for the cliffs of Dover where there is no beach.

"I was told to go back to France, which I did, to get a bigger kite. When I got there they had packed the kites up and were heading to England.

"My plan is to congratulate my son and give it another go tomorrow. I would like to finish the job off. It would have been lovely to have reached the finish line as planned."

His son said: "I feel pretty euphoric. It's an amazing thing to have done. The main moment when it really hit me was when we were coming in and could see the white cliffs of Dover."

Sir Richard, a multi-millionaire who will turn 62 next month, had to abandon an attempt at setting the same record two years ago 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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