Youngest kitesurfer to cross the English Channel

At 14 years old, Adam Farrington just became the youngest person to kitesurf across the English Channel from Poole/Swanage to Cherbourg in France. The 69 mile crossing took 5 hours 19 minutes, all on port tack. The weather was pretty rough and sea conditions were crazy mid channel. We spoke to Adam and his dad Russell after this big accomplishment. 

Russell & Adam, Congratulations! You guys just kitesurfed across the English Channel with Adam being the youngest kitesurfer ever at just 14!  Can you tell me how the idea started and how long you’ve been planning this record attempt? 

A: Exactly one year ago my dad kitesurfed around the Isle of Wight. On the trip back to the marina he had the idea of kiting to France. I was at school that day but when I heard his idea I asked if I could go with him. In the end Dad was part of the relay team that kited back to England yesterday. I was the only one fortunate enough to make the full passage across the channel.

How long was the crossing and how long did it take you guys?

R: 69 miles from Swanage (just south of Poole) to Landemar (just west of Cherbourg). It took 5 hours and 19 minutes. We had planned to go to Alderney as we had heard that Richard Branson got arrested when he kited to France (Dover to Calais) a few years ago. The wind angle was much better for Cherbourg so we changed destination and took our chances. Fortunately we had no trouble from the French authorities.

How did the day start and finish and from where did you start and finish?

R: We tarted from Salterns marina in Poole Harbour and fortunately it ended back there as well.

What gear did you use to do this?

A: 12m Switchblade, 139 carbon Ace, Proton Harness, NP 4/3 mission wetsuit and an NP hydration pack.

Were there any scary moments? I mean it's an incredibly busy passage with hundreds of ships going through so you have to have your whits about you right?

A: We started out with two kiters but after 26 miles Suki was being sick so had to swap with Polly. An hour later Polly was over powered and returned to the boat. Unfortunately it was considered too rough to launch a smaller kite off the boat, so after that I was on my own. All these changes were unsettling and when Suki stopped I had considered stopping as well. We had a couple of near misses with container ships in the shipping lanes but the biggest challenge was the sea state. The waves were over head for me but also very close together and confused, making it really easy to catch an edge. I must have wiped out at least a dozen times. I found the best plan was to ride the wake coming from the back of the support boat.

What was the hardest part of the day?

A: Having been on port tack for nearly 5 hours and with 10 miles to go I started to get cramp in my back leg. Unfortunately I’m regular and not able to ride toe side on that tack, something which would have relieved the pressure. When I finally got to the French beach my right leg went into spasm and I couldn’t kite back to the support boat. Luckily my Dad kited to the beach and towed me back to the boat.

What’s next?!

A: I’m looking forward to the next two rounds of the British Kitesurfing Freestyle Championships where I’m currently joint leader with Alex Wallis. As for bigger adventures I’m going to have a think, but spending time with Nick Jacobson at the Kitesurfing Armada last weekend was very inspiring.

Adam, how does it feel to become the youngest kitesurfer to cross the english channel?

A: Super stoked! I’d like to thank the rest of the team yesterday, Suki, Polly, Milan, Robin and my Dad, who provided me with amazing opportunity and gave me so much encouragement and support. Also huge thanks to Cabrinha, Neil Pryde and Poseidon Kite School. And finally thanks to my head of year Mr. Dew who let me take the day off school!