Branson renews kite-surf record bid

Sir Richard Branson will make a fresh attempt to set two world records by kite-surfing across the English Channel - 24 hours after being forced to abort his initial bid.

The 61-year-old Virgin tycoon hopes to become the oldest person to cross the Channel and also break the record set by his son Sam only on Saturday for the fastest kite-surf crossing.

Sir Richard joined Sam and other family members and friends in setting off from Wimereux in northern France with the aim of making the 30-mile journey to the Kent coast in around two and a half hours.

But as he was half-way across, Sir Richard, who turns 62 next month, realised his kite was too small and he had to turn back to France, but when he got there he found no larger kites.

There was joy, however, for his son who reached Folkestone in two hours and 18 minutes, shaving 12 minutes off the previous record for the fastest cross-Channel kite-surf which was set in 1999.

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

On Sunday Sir Richard is due to set off on his renewed cross-Channel challenge from Hythe in Kent at midday and cross over to France, weather permitting.

Speaking after his aborted attempt on Saturday, 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."

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 I could see the white cliffs of Dover."

On Saturday was a further disappointment for Sir Richard as he had to abandon an attempt at setting the same records two years ago to celebrate his 60th birthday.

He is no stranger to record attempts. In 1987, his hot air balloon Virgin Atlantic Flyer crossed the Atlantic, setting the record for the first balloon to do so. In 1991, he was in the first balloon to cross the Pacific from Japan to Arctic Canada in a journey that amounted to 6,700 miles (10,783km), and from 1995 to 1998, Sir Richard, Per Lindstrand and Steve Fossett made attempts to circumnavigate the globe by balloon.