We promised to keep you posted on the personal challenges we’re taking on board, in order to show our commitment to the Homes for Good campaign, and raise money for our chosen charity, Shelter.
Last year we told you about our indefatigable Head of Marketing, Sam, who raised over £1000 for charity by strapping herself onto a tiny board, attaching herself to a large kite in a howling gale, and setting off into the English Channel as part of the inaugural Virgin Kitesurfing Armada. More on that story here.
In September we found out that Sam and her team of intrepid kitesurfers had had their World Record snaffled from under their noses by a cheeky bunch of kitesurfers in Spain, so there was nothing else for it, and the Armada was reconvened off the South Coast in early October, with the aim of regaining the title (and raising more money for charity).
Despite an eerie stillness in the air (and a lack of wind in the forecast) over 360 watersports enthusiasts turned up just after dawn on Saturday 11th October, eager to make history by participating in the world’s largest parade of kitesurfers. If only the wind would play ball, it would be quite a sight. A rainbow appeared over the beach as they registered – was it a fortuitous sign?
As the morning progressed without the slightest breath of wind, the crowd became restless, worried that the attempt might have to be abandoned. At noon the announcement went out that they should don their wetsuits and assemble their kite equipment on the beach ready for launch at 1pm. Incredulously, everyone got ready, but by 2pm there was still not a breath. Lewis Crathern, the professional kitesurfer headlining the event was keen to encourage optimism, interviewing participants live on the beach, broadcast over speakers to the throng, asking if they believed the wind would come.
Impatient watersports enthusiasts took a dip in the calm sea, after baking in the unseasonal October heat, or took to paddleboards to patrol the bay casually in anticipation. Then suddenly, the wind got up and it was go go go. Near chaos ensued as every eager participant was keen to get out on the water as soon as possible before the light wind dropped. Suddenly fifty, a hundred and then two hundred kites were in the air – a magnificent sight.
Sam got caught up in the confusion, another kiter had set up his kite over hers and she was unable to launch at the same time as her buddies. They were far off on the horizon by the time she set off, and tried not to worry they wouldn’t be around if she got into difficulty. But the windwhipped seas and huge waves of last year were nowhere to be seen. This time the sea was calm, and the biggest challenge was working the kite so that it gave a consistent pull without dropping out of the sky and into the water. The was just enough power in her kite to take her safely into the mile zone and past the safety boats. Before she knew it, she was powering past camera crews in the boats, and past the final mile marker! After a couple of tacks Sam emerged with the board on her feet and a smile on her face onto the finish beach – she’d done it. A quick coach ride back to the start and a wait to find out if the effort had been enough to be world beating.
Each participant is given a unique tracker, and the Guinness judges were on the beach to ensure that the rules were being properly followed. But although 362 kites launched, the Spanish record of 352 kiters was not beaten, as several participants didn’t manage to make it through the mile, victims of that light wind. Missing out on a world record by just 8 kiters, the crowd’s jubilant enthusiasm could not be broken – they had done their best, and in fact broken last year’s record by a hefty margin – it was a new UK record!
Sam’s raised just under her £500 target for this year – you can help boost her total in aid of three amazing charities – Shelter, RNLI and Snowcamp. Find out more about her commitment to the challenge here.