On Sunday 15th September, it was a sunny start to the day when Sir Richard Branson, not one to stay on the side lines, decided it was time to set another world record. He was in the water at the Virgin Kitesurfing Armada, a more than suitable event name considering he joined 317 other kitesurfers as they attempted, successfully to break the world record for the ‘Largest Parade of kitesurfers’ ever assembled.
318 participants left Hayling Island beach and completed the one mile course. He himself is the oldest person to have crossed the channel by kitesurf, so he’s no stranger to the sport. The event was created and hosted by Snow-Camp, a UK charity working with young people through the medium of snow sports. Craig Glenday, Editor in Chief and official adjudicator from the Guinness World Records, witnessed and recorded this new achievement.
Participants were required to complete a one-mile course in order to break the record and in the spirit of things, they then continued on to Lancing on a fundraising downwinder which is the easiest way to travel long distances while kitesurfing, in aid of three fantastic charities; Virgin Unite, Snow-Camp and the RNLI. Since Snow-Camp launched the event in April with Virgin’s backing, over 300 kitesurfers clamoured to sign up to the event, so it was always set to be a success whatever the outcome.
Dan Charlish, Director of Snow-Camp, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have set this new world record for the largest parade of kite surfers ever. It’s been phenomenal to see the response of the kite surfing community coming together to support this first kite surfing Amada event. To be led by Sir Richard Branson was just fantastic”. He continues; “We have raised about £60,000, which is an incredible platform to build on over the next 5 years. This allows us to offer the unique combination of skiing, snowboarding and life-skills programmes to support inner-city young people”.
Sir Richard said, “I’m passionate about kite surfing and I think this was a fantastic and fun event in support of some great causes, certainly the first of its kind and incredibly positive for the sport. We are delighted to be involved and we are so happy to have set a new Guinness World Record by bringing kite surfers together from across the UK to raise money for three fantastic charities – Virgin Unite, Snow-Camp and the RNLI”.
Snow-Camp launched the event, formerly the Big Charity Downwinder in April this year with UK Pro kitesurfer Lewis Crathern. Within three years of learning to kitesurf, Lewis became a successful British Pro Men’s Kitesurfing Champion – the youngest contestant to ever win the tour. He now has four British Championships under his belt and is ranked within the Top 20 in the world. Also in attendance were Steph Bridge, four times World Champion kiteboarder and currently ranked as number one woman in the world as well as Sam Light, 1st overall BKSA Pro fleet.
In August, Virgin was announced as the Title Sponsor for the event, stating that they were proud to put their global brand behind such a promising and positive cause and sport. They have covered every cost to ensure that all proceeds go directly to the charities involved and also securing the event for the next five years. The event supported Snow-Camp, Virgin Unite and the RNLI. The decision for Virgin to back the Armada was met with purely affirmative responses.
Weather-wise, Sunday was forecast overcast with grey skies and 10 knots, instead the sun was shining and we hit 20 knots, so a bit blustery but no match for the determined partakers who were all more than eager to get going. The event began on Hayling Island, Hampshire and ended in Lancing, 46 miles away. The event was given a big green light weather-wise for Sunday by Dan Charlish, director at Snow-Camp and kitesurfers assembled for registration bright and early at 7am, before departing at 9am to give them the optimum weather conditions to kitesurf. The participants paid £20 to enter the event, and each will have raised a minimum of £100 towards the cause, so even things hadn’t quite gone to plan, each cause will receive all the proceeds.
Of course no event should be held without an after party, and this was no different for the Virgin Armada! The party was held at the New Sussex Hotel in Lancing, where the fun kicked off with an awards ceremony, prizes and announcements about setting the World Record, before participants spent the time enjoying a well-deserved celebration after what was a truly fantastic day!
For more information on the event please visit www.snow-camp.org.uk