Richard Branson to Take the Channel Challenge

Virgin Atlantic Airways announced today that Richard Branson will be attempting his next world record - the Channel Challenge - in celebration of the airline’s 20th birthday in June this year.  Richard will be attempting to set the Guinness World Record for the fastest crossing of the English Channel by an amphibious vehicle.  The attempt will be undertaken in a Gibbs Aquada on 14 June (weather permitting) from Dover to Calais and if successful the 22-mile journey could be completed in less than two hours.  Sir Richard Branson, Chairman of Virgin Atlantic, said:
“The first time I saw the Gibbs Aquada it really captured my imagination, not only in terms of the exciting British technology involved in creating a true amphibian vehicle, but also thinking about the fun events and World Records we could attempt with it.  Out of all of the record attempts I have tried over the years this has to be one of the most unusual! 

“This isn’t our first seafaring record attempt - back in 1986 in Virgin Atlantic Challenger II we crossed the Atlantic Ocean in the fastest time to take the Blue Riband and the World Record.  Almost two decades later we will be embarking on another water-based record but one that will present very different challenges.  In 1986 we had sharks and typhoons to contend with - this time it will be cross-channel ferries and English weather.  I certainly hope this attempt will be as successful - and not on the second attempt!

“I will, of course, be undertaking a rigorous training schedule in order to prepare for the record attempt which will include a few extra swimming lessons just in case!”

Richard Branson will be the driver and will be joined by a Gibbs Aquada engineer. The attempt will be closely monitored by Guinness World Records and an adjudicator will be on hand to time and verify the event. 

Guinness World Records researcher Hein Le Roux said :

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“Guinness World Records are looking forward to adjudicating this exciting record attempt. It is one of our more unusual record categories and is attempted very rarely. The fastest crossing in an amphibious vehicle that we are aware of is 6 hours by two Frenchmen.

“We wish Richard Branson all the best with this challenge and are confident that he will be awarded a new Guinness World Record!”

Alan Gibbs, Chairman of Gibbs Technologies, comments:

“We at Gibbs Technologies are pleased to support Sir Richard’s record breaking attempt.  Whilst the Aquada is not designed for ocean travel if anyone can do it, it will be Richard Branson. We wish him every success in his endeavours.”

The first application of Gibbs Technologies’ patented High Speed Amphibian (HSA) technology, the Gibbs Aquada represents the first road legal high-speed sports amphibian.  Neither a boat with wheels nor a waterproof car, the Gibbs Aquada is truly a revolutionary new class of vehicle.  It is able to drive at speeds of 100mph on land and in excess of 30mph on water, moving between surfaces at the touch of a button.  For more information please visit: www.aquada.co.uk

The record attempt will be sponsored by Virgin Atlantic on the eve of its 20th birthday.  The airline has become Britain’s second largest carrier, carrying over 40 million passengers and flying to twenty-two destinations worldwide since it began operations on 22 June 1984. 

Virgin Atlantic has enjoyed huge popularity, winning top business, consumer and trade awards from around the world. The airline has pioneered a range of innovations setting new standards of service, which its competitors have subsequently sought to follow. Despite Virgin Atlantic’s growth the service still remains customer driven with an emphasis on value for money, quality, fun and innovation.

Virgin Atlantic has recently announced it is embarking on a period of sustained growth which will feature the launch of a series of new routes including Australia, Cuba, and The Bahamas, an increase in services to the US, Caribbean, Asia and the Far East, orders for two more A340-600 aircraft and the recruitment of 1400 staff over the next year. 

The airline has also recently launched its revolutionary Upper Class Suite product.  The product consists of a reclining leather seat for take off, a place to sit and eat a proper meal opposite your partner, the longest fully flat bed in the world with a proper mattress for sleeping on, a private onboard bar to drink at with your friends, a private massage room and four limousines per return trip - all at a price thousands of pounds less than other airlines’ First Class.  The Upper Class Suite has already proved to be a massive success winning the airline all-important market share along with an impressive array of prestigious awards.

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