Branson aims for cross-channel record

Sir Richard Branson will attempt to set two world records today when he kite-boards across the English Channel to celebrate his 60th birthday.

The Virgin entrepreneur hopes to become the oldest person to cross the Channel by kite-board and to make the fastest crossing by a kite-board team.

Accompanied by his children Holly, 29, and Sam, 26, and a number of friends, he will leave from Dungeness in Kent and embark on a 24-mile crossing to a point on the French coast. The finishing position will be dependant on wind conditions.

If successful, he will be the first to establish these Guinness World Records, his spokesman said.

He said: "Richard wants to do a fun, crazy challenge in the vein of the balloon crossing that he's done before, but he wanted it to be something his friends and family could get involved with."

Kite-boarding, or kitesurfing as it is also known, is a water sport in which the rider is pulled through the waves on a surfboard, propelled by a large controllable kite.

Sir Richard described it as one of his favourite sports.

Writing on the Virgin.com website last week, he said: "I absolutely love the amazing rush you get when going at high speeds, in high winds, with the most beautiful kite acting as your only guide.

"I know that kitesurfing across the Channel will not be quite the same as kitesurfing in the beautiful waters of the Caribbean but I can't think of anything I'd rather do, with my family and friends, to celebrate turning 60!

"My wife swears I get more barking as I get older - this year I've almost crippled myself running 26.2 miles in my first marathon and now I'm putting my poor 60-year-old bones through an arduous 24.4 miles, over water, hanging onto a giant kite! Joan could have a point!"

Sir Richard's challenge could take up to four hours.

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