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Longest Channel Crossing

Longest Charity Kite Surf Crossing of the English Channel

On Tuesday 22nd September 2009, Andrew Ward  33 year old Father of 3 successfully kite surfed the English Channel from Alderney in the Channel Islands to Sandbanks in Poole Dorset-UK Main land. The Distance is just under 70 Nautical miles. Andrew planned this for 10 months during that time he maintained a website detailing all the training and fundraising to raise the profile and make the challenge as much of a success as possible. All proceeds will go to a charity similar to that of ‘Help 4 Heroes’ called the Special Boat Service Association.

Already £3000 has been raised with pledge of nearly another £2000 still to come in.

The Support Team consisted of x 2 Support RIBS provided by JM Yachting, David Hartwell-Manager of The WaterSports Academy, Mark Enticknapp-Photographer from Extreme Visuals, Tom Herring from Galvanized Media and Shawn Bullivant from First Line Response who provided medic cover if needed.

There were 2 sets of  dates in September 2009 when Nic Lonsdale HM Coastguard advised would be best to depart Alderney as early in the morning with the tide being Slack giving Andrew a safer chance of getting off the Island and out into the Channel hence avoiding being taken either south down the tidal streams such as the ‘Alderney Race’ and ‘Swinge’. These dates were September 7th-12th and 22nd-26th. For the first set of dates a High pressure from the north saw us with strong North Easterly winds which would not have been ideal as that would have caused Wind against tide issues.

The Team closely monitored the weather forecast leading up to the 2nd set of dates and as Early as 17th September it was looking like Tuesday 22nd September could be a promising date with a forecast 12-16 knots from a South West-Westerly. These condition would be optimum to make the crossing and right up until Monday 21st September the complete Team were put on standby. At 0830hrs on Monday 21st September Andrew and Dave Hartwell made the decision that despite the wind forecast only be 12-16 knots this should be the date to do it as the rest of that week was no good on all the wind forecasting sites and an extension of the challenge into October would carry additional challenges as the Sea and Air temperature would drop.

At that point flights were booked and Coxswains of the RIBS started to prepare their RIBS for departure from Hamble in Southampton. Andrew, Dave, Mark, Tom and Shawn all flew over to Alderney on the Monday courtesy of Aurigny Airlines who sponsored us and the Coxswains- James and Trevor from JM Yachting left Hamble on the RIBS arriving 3 hours later at Alderney.

Whilst the RIBS had the enduring task of re-fuelling 300 litres from the Main Braye Harbour using just Jerry cans and no fuel pumps the team met the Harbour Master for more details on the conditions for Tuesday’s crossing. That evening all the Team had a meeting to go through the plan for the next day. At 2200hrs Andrew went to his hotel room which was kindly provided in sponsorship by The Braye Beach Hotel. After a couple of hours of fitting bindings and fins to the Caliber and Plasma Cabrinha boards and making the Energy drinks for the Camel Bag, Andrew was a sleep by midnight.

At 0600 hrs on Tuesday the Team all met at the Divers Inn and Rea the landlord kindly provided them all with Bacon Sandwiches and coffee. At 0730hrs a beach launch was abandoned due to insufficient winds as the Break Water Defence wall that comes out of the west side of Braye Beach was reducing the channel winds by 3-4 knots. It was decided a kite launch from the RIB just out to the end of the Break Water wall would be the only chance to get going. This was successful and by 0930hrs Andrew was away on his 13m Crossbow IDS 2010 kite and a Cabrinha Plasma board. He was loaded up with a Camel bag with drink and a Predator VX360 Action cam mounted onto his Headzone Helmet and also up on the Leading edge of the kite.

The wind at Alderney dropped to 8-10 knots and it was becoming increasingly difficult to stay up and the Plasma light wind board was creating to much resistant against the swell. After a while the Cabrinha Caliber board was used and this helped Andrew get going. Still the winds were to light and Andrew was doing his best to work the kite but going far too down wind east along the channel and Cherbourg was becoming more and more visible. The kite dropped out of the sky twice and in order to avoid problems with the French Coastguards and also ending up somewhere like Bognor Regis as decision was made to get on the RIB and head straight west back along the channel to see if there was more wind.

The lines on the 13m Crossbow were tangled so the 14m Cabrinha Contra was successfully prepared and launch with assistance from Dave Hartwell. Andrew then set off   and had the power he needed to make the crossing a success. Andrew then kite surfed in one hit all the way to Old Harry Rocks without a rest. He was told to wait just behind Durlston point until local ITV news were on a RIB to welcome him in and the reception party on the beach had arrived.

After 40 minutes of kite surfing off Old Harry and Stud land Andrew came into Sandbanks beach at approx 1530hrs and was greeted by all his Friends, Family and media.

On behalf of Andrew and the SBS Association, they would like to thank all of the sponsors and support team for their immense time and effort in making this epic challenge a Success and further details and coverage of the crossing can be found at

http://www.kitethechannel.co.uk/

Tom Herring from Galvanized Media will be editing a 30 minute documentary which will consist of all of the training and fundraising and the crossing and it is hoped this may be aired nationally in due course.

Mark Enticknapp has all the Pictures uploaded on his website

www.extremevisuals.co.uk

and these can be purchased online with a percentage going to the Charity.

Anyone wishing to kindly make a donation can do so by visitng  Justgiving.com/kitethechannel or alternatively e-mail Andrew at Andrewward@hotmail.co.uk