Andy Ward successfully completed the longest channel kitesurf crossing in just under 6 hours on Tuesday 22nd September. The mammoth journey took Andy from Alderney in the Channel Islands to Sandbanks in Poole, Dorset and looks set top raise up to £4000 for the Special Boat Service Association. Ten months of planning saw Andy make the crossing with three years kiting experience and with a full support crew of six and two RIBS from JM Yachting.
It was a 6am start for Andy and the RIBS crew, and with plenty of coffee to kick the body into life a 13m Crossbow IDS was pumped up on Braye Beach ready for a 7am launch time. Doubt flooded everyone's mind however as the wind speed was only hitting 6-7 knots thanks to a break water defence wall sheltering the beach. Andy did manage to launch his kite and get going but quickly decided to change from his Plasma Lightwind Board to a Cabrinha Caliber after struggling through the big swell to deal with it better.
With little wind a big swell Andy knew he was in for a test with little under an hour gone. After having to re-launch the kite twice the choice was made to pack up the 13m and head a few miles west of the Channel to give Andy a better chance. With wind speeds up to 14 knots it was no trouble launching a 14m Cabrina Contra and from that point Andy was off and determined to make the trip in one hit.
'Two hours from arriving at Sandbanks I could see land and got my bearings off Old Harry Rocks / Durlston point and the Isle of Wight. From there it was a complete down winder on a broad reach.' Meridian News (ITV) were quick to air Andy's progress at this point on a RIB and were surprisingly accompanied by family members giving Andy a spur of emotion to ride on a complete the challenge.
A fantastic joint effort by Andy and the team saw him arrive at Sandbanks Beach at 3:30pm
Kiteworld Magazine's own Ash Phelps had the pleasure of chatting to Andrew Ward just after he completed the lchannel crossing. Here's what he got out of him...
What was the hardest part of the journey?
After we launched just off the break water wall from Alderney in just 8 knots, I had to really work the kite and ended up for just under an hour going downwind towards Cherbourg and my kite fell twice... it appeared at that time the crossing could have failed just after it began.
What did you enjoy the most about the journey?
I most enjoyed the fact that I kept going over 55 miles without once stopping until I got to Old Harry Rocks at the UK Coastline, my total determination pushed through all the cramp pains, hand blisters and skin off my toes from the bindings.
What have you learnt from the journey?
Physically I have pushed my body way out past the boundaries of my comfort zone. I had the most awesome experience playing with nature to make what may well be my biggest life time achievement! A huge thanks to all the team who pulled together to help make it possible!
Andy looks to possibly kite even further in the future but for now is claiming some well earned R and R. Click hereto see a video of Andy's heroics
Click hereto read Andrew's online blog of his incredible journey
A special thanks to Mark Enticknapp from Extremevisuals.co.uk from providing the photos and to Tom at Galvanised Media
Kitesurfing Test - Boards 2013
Nomad 136-Team series
Kitesurfing Test - Kites 2013
Wainman Gypsy 6.25m
Kitesurfing travel directory
Sharm El Sheikh