Britain's Branson abandons cross-Channel kitesurf bid

25th August 2010, Comments 0 comments

British tycoon adventurer Richard Branson was forced to abandon a second attempt to kitesurf across the England Channel on Wednesday, but he vowed to try again within weeks.

Rough seas and high winds scuppered the entrepreneur's first attempt on Tuesday by forcing the support boats to turn back after five miles (eight kilometres), but he had the opposite problem on Wednesday.

"The guys have been trying to catch the wind all day, and it just wasn't happening. There wasn't enough," Branson's spokesman told AFP from Dungeness on the southern English coast, from where the tycoon had been due to set off.

Accompanied by a team of kitesurfers including his children Holly and Sam, Branson had hoped to make the 24.4-mile (39-kilometre) trip to the French port of Boulogne.

"The weather went from one extreme to the other. The biggest problem was getting off the beach. We gave it a number of tries but it wasn't to be," Branson told reporters.

"I think that despite the fact that we haven't succeeded at this, it's been tremendous for the whole family.

"Once you realise there's nothing you can do about it, you're happy to have a laugh with the locals, write 'boo' in the sand and go out with a smile. We don't regret anything."

They made several attempts to get the kites in the air, but after more than three hours they called it a day at about 1230 GMT, the spokesman said.

He said there would be no more attempts "in the immediate future", but Branson suggested they may try again within weeks.

"We've never given up on an attempt and everyone is keen to get back and do it and we'll hopefully be back again some time over the next month to finish off," he said.

The owner of the Virgin Atlantic airline and founder of an empire encompassing trains, media interests and financial services, had hoped to become the oldest person to cross the Channel on a kitesurf and to make the fastest crossing by a kitesurf team.

In kitesurfing, or kiteboarding as it is also known, the rider is pulled through the waves on a surfboard, propelled by a large controllable kite.

© 2010 AFP

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