VIRGIN boss Richard Branson is heading back to Hayling for a record attempt that will further put the island on the world stage for kitesurfing.
At least 500 other enthusiasts will join him in what he hopes will be the largest kitesurfing armada in the world – proving that Hayling is the watersports capital of the UK.
Around 2,000 people are expected for the event over September 27 and 28, and it follows last weekend’s National Watersports Festival (NWF) which attracted 10,000 people.
The location and winds on Hayling are ideal for watersports and businesses say the festivals are a huge boost for the area.
Ian Murray is the owner of Inn on the Beach, on Sea Front, where the NWF was held.
He said: ‘The events are great for the local economy, they bring a lot of extra people on to the island.
‘It puts money into a lot of different businesses. Such great events put us on the national stage.’
Last year 318 kitesurfers broke a world record for the largest number of kitesurfers to complete a one-mile course and raised money for Virgin Unite, Snow Camp and The RNLI.
This year more than 500 have already signed up to kitesurf up the coast to Pagham.
Dan Charlish, from Snow Camp, is the organiser. He said: ‘I have to say that Havant Borough Council was so receptive and we were delighted with how it turned out last year.’
The council said it is difficult to quantify exactly how much the events are worth to the area but the benefits are not only monetary.
‘They bring with them a range of positive benefits to businesses and residents in the borough’ said Dan Grindey, the council’s economic development service manager.
‘As well as placing Hayling Island at the forefront of watersports in the UK and establishing long-term interest from visitors and investors alike, the events themselves provide a positive boost to tourism and accommodation providers in the area.
‘They also act as a welcome stimulus to residents and visitors to try watersports for themselves and enjoy the long-term health benefits.’