Branson helps to set Hayling kite-surfing record

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INSPIRATIONAL entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson took to the water with ease as he set a world record on Hayling Island.

The billionaire was at the beach along with hundreds of kite-surfers who were attempting to set a new Guinness World Record for the most amount of kite-surfers to surf for a mile.

SPECIAL GUEST Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson takes part in a kite-surfing record attempt on Hayling Island yesterday. Picture: Ian Hargreaves  (132546-8)

SPECIAL GUEST Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson takes part in a kite-surfing record attempt on Hayling Island yesterday. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (132546-8)

In total, 318 kite-surfers took to the waves for the challenge, and many carried on afterwards to complete a 46-mile sponsored kite surf along to Lancing, West Sussex, to raise money for three charities – Virgin Unite, Snow-Camp and the RNLI.

Sir Richard said: ‘Kiting to me is the best sport in the world. It’s a great way of keeping fit, it’s great fun. You are bouncing across the waves, away from mobile phones and modern life. And it looks magnificent.’

Sir Richard’s 90-year-old mum Eve Branson was on the beach in support and sounded the horn to mark the start of the challenge.

The Virgin boss is no stranger to record-breaking.

Last year, he broke the record for being the oldest person to kite surf across the English Channel.

Sir Richard said: ‘It’s wonderful, because of the amount of kites we have had down here.

‘We’re planning to make this an annual event.’

He added: ‘Next year we hope to be back again and every year for some years to come.’

Phil and Liz Thomas had come from Farnham to support their daughter Emily and her partner Luke, who were participating in the event.

Liz said: ‘I’m a little bit anxious for them but I think it’s wonderful.’

Hayling Island’s county councillor Frank Pearce said: ‘People have come from far and wide for this event which is good for business and Hayling Island.

‘The more events we can put on like this, the better we become.’

Sir Richard praised Hayling Island, especially as the team were very lucky with the weather.

He said: ‘We have had the most wonderful welcome since we arrived on Hayling Island. It’s a beautiful spot and I’m sure the sun is always shining on Hayling Island.’