Virgin Active today announces that Sir Richard Branson, who celebrates his 60th birthday this coming Sunday July 18th, will be flying high to celebrate hitting the big six zero by kitesurfing the English channel. Richard, never one to shy away from a challenge (and suffering from the delusion that his bus pass is NOT in the post!), will – in the company of his nephews, children and a few mad friends undertake this challenge. Richard looks set to become the oldest person to kite-surf across the channel – from Dungeness to the French coast – but Richard is not so keen to make a big issue over that one! This cool, fun, colourful and frankly crazy challenge will take place during the month of August.
Luckily an extremely keen and competent kitesurfer Richard is up for the challenge:
“Kitesurfing is one of my favourite sports. I absolutely love the amazing rush you get when going at high speeds, in high winds, with the most beautiful kite acting as your only guide. I know that kitesurfing across the channel will not be quite the same as kitesurfing in the beautiful waters of the Caribbean but I can’t think of anything I rather do, with my family and friends, to celebrate turning 60!
My wife swears I get more barking as I get older – this year I’ve almost crippled myself running 26.2 miles in my first marathon and now I’m putting my poor 60 year old bones through an arduous 24.4 miles, over water, hanging onto a giant kite! Joan could have a point! But as Holly, Sam and my nephews will be doing it with me – at least I can claim the whole family is barking and at the end of the day they are Joan’s children as well – so she’s 50% responsible! Thankfully Virgin Active has been fantastic in helping us prepare for the big day.”
The crossing, estimated to take up to six hours dependent on conditions, stretches 24.4 miles of one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.
Getting physically prepared for the challenge
Challenge sponsor Virgin Active UK, part of the global health club chain founded by Sir Richard 10 years ago, has been advising Sir Richard and the team on their physical preparations for the crossing. Key requirements are well developed core strength and the ability to react to sudden changes in the environment caused by wind and waves.
Virgin Active has compiled a training package for Sir Richard and the team ahead of the crossing, which combines some of Virgin Active’s latest and most innovative equipment including;
* ViPR, a seemingly simple weighted moulded rubber tube that can be carried, dragged, thrown, rolled, stepped on and flipped to work all of the body and train the body’s ability to react quickly whilst honing strength, CV fitness and flexibility
* TRX Suspension training, which uses adjustable straps to allow users to use their own body weight to work different muscle groups, closely mimicking the types of strain that the kite will place on the team
* RipcoreFX, soon to launch at Virgin Active, using a pole connected to a resistance band in many different positions to create strength and reactive ability in asymmetrical positions
Nick Hudson, Virgin Active’s national fitness manager, comments: “Kitesurfing is a hugely challenging sport physically, that places very different strains and stresses on the body, compared to traditional gym based exercise, so we have had Sir Richard and the team using some of our less traditional training tools and equipment.”
All of the team’s equipment and livery has been designed and kindly donated by Flexifoil International, the UK’s leading kitesurf and power kiting brand, with unparalleled experience over almost 40 years in premium quality land and water kite design and manufacturing. Richard will be undertaking the challenge on Flexifoil’s brand new Ion kite, the latest generation in a well established line of high performance kitesurf kites
Tim Davis, UK head of brand and marketing at Virgin Active comments: “We’re delighted to be supporting Richard and the team for this challenge. It’s an ideal event for our brand to be involved with and demonstrates our approach to challenging how the health club sector markets itself.”
The date of the crossing itself, due to the nature of kitesurfing, is weather dependent and therefore will take place end of August / beginning of September. A limited number of media will be able to attend the crossing as guests of Virgin Active. To apply for accreditation, please contact Alex Wilkinson using the details below.