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Back to 2003 News Archive

New Kite-surf Record set at Portpatrick

A NEW record for crossing the North Channel was created at Portpatrick on Thursday. But forget about high powered speed boats - this was all done with the aid of a giant kite!

For the first time ever the Irish Sea was crossed by way of a white-knuckle craze known as kite surfing, which involves a small board and hand-held sail.

Irishmen Jeff Williams and Phillip McConkey departed Millisle, near Donaghadee, shortly after mid-day and Jeff arrived at Broadsea Bay, north of Portpatrick an hour and 30 minutes later. Unfortunately his kiting partner Phillip had been blown way off course and had to abandon his record attempt.

The daring duo, both members of the Irish Power Kiting Association, were just happy that half their team had managed to create a record though - and it was all in aid of Children in Need.

Having defeated the wild 35km route, Dubliner Jeff (30) said:

"It hasn't really sunk in yet but what a buzz!

"The wind got up in the last hour and it was a bit scary at times ‹ we were travelling at about 20 miles per hour at one point. But I am really glad we gave it a go because we have been planning to do it for so long and nearly had to put it off until the spring.

"We saw the window of opportunity this week and thankfully did it in time for Children in Need which is the perfect cause."

A BBC camera crew joined the pair on their adventure from the realms of a safety boat in which Phillip¹s girlfriend Liz was also present.

The record attempt will now be broadcast by BBC Northern Ireland for Children in Need next Friday and promises to make exciting viewing.

Enjoying a well-earned cooked dinner at Portpatrick's Crown Hotel after his feat, Phillip (27) said:

"We wanted a challenge and the North Channel presented us with the perfect one.

"It was a bit hairy out there so it should make interesting viewing.

"But it got a bit too much and I was going well off course so I had to down kite and come in!"

The art of kite surfing is simple - but requires skill and stamina in abundance. The surfer's feet are attached to a small surfboard and they propel themselves by holding onto a massive kite. Phillip added:

"It's catching on in Ireland and I would encourage as many youngsters as possible to give kiting a shot. The west coast of Scotland certainly has ideal weather for it!"

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