London: Sir Richard Branson has become the oldest person to kitesurf across the English Channel, after a false start.
The 61-year-old British tycoon set the new Guinness World Record by crossing from Dymchurch, Kent, to Wimereux in northern France in three hours, 45 minutes.
It was his second attempt in 24 hours, after he was forced to turn back on Saturday because his kite was too small.
He said that the journey was “far more challenging” than he expected, with strong winds and large waves.
The Virgin entrepreneur had wanted to break a record set by his son for the fastest kitesurf crossing, but had failed to secure it.
The multi-millionaire and his son, Sam, were part of a team that kitesurfed from France to Kent on Saturday.
But while Sam made the 30-mile journey from Wimereux to Folkestone in two hours and 18 minutes, shaving 12 minutes off the previous record set in 1999, Sir Richard was forced to abort his challenge.
He vowed to try again, saying he wanted to “finish the job”.
Eight friends and relatives went on to complete the journey, creating a new record for being the fastest group of kitesurfers to make the Channel crossing.
“It’s wonderful for the family to have set three world records in two days. I have even more respect for Sam’s world record having taken so long myself to get across,” a news channel quoted him as saying after arriving in France.
“The trip was far more challenging than I thought, with 40mph winds in the middle of the Channel and major waves. 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,” he said.
Almost two years ago, he had to abandon a Channel crossing kitesurf record bid to celebrate his 60th birthday.