Saffron Walden man to join Richard Branson & co in world record kitesurfing attempt

Kitesurfer Andy Hollis

Kitesurfer Andy Hollis - Credit: Archant

KITESURFING in the open sea for 46 miles is no small challenge, but one Saffron Walden resident is keen to do just that as he prepares to join a world record charity attempt.

Andy Hollis, 48, of Mill Lane, will be amongst the 300 people taking part in The Virgin Kitesurfing Armada, joining the likes of Richard Branson, this month.

It is thought to be the first event of its kind, with competitors hoping to set a new world record for the ‘largest parade of kitesurfers’ and aiming to complete a fundraising downwinder from Hayling Island to Lancing.

Andy said he is excited but admits to being apprehensive about the daunting challenge ahead.

He told the Reporter: “It’s going to be a real challenge and I’m a bit nervous with the open sea factor. Keeping the legs going for 46 miles – equivalent to crossing the English Channel and back – will also be pretty tough.

“But it’s exciting and great to be involved. The launch should also be interesting – how they are preparing to launch 300 kites is beyond me but it should be quite a laugh!”

Andy, a director of photography, got hooked on kitesurfing – a surface water sport combining aspects of wakeboarding, windsurfing, surfing, paragliding and gymnastics into one extreme sport – about 13 years ago and also instructs at The Essex Kitesurf School based in Southend.

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“I started flying kites and just went bigger and bigger. I rode land buggies but that hurt too much. I broke a few ribs. So I decided to take to the water – it’s a lot softer when you crash. It’s great fun and pretty addictive.”

The event, in aid of Snow-Camp, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and Virgin Unite, could take place as early as this Sunday although two further weekends have been pencilled in should wind conditions not be right.

To sponsor Andy, visit the website