Former Apple Product Manager’s Record-Breaking Trek Across The English Channel With Sir Richard Branson
All the write-ups I've seen about the world records set by kiteboarders sailing across the English Channel last weekend are headlined with Virgin CEO Richard Branson. Yes. Sir Richard Branson is the biggest name on the list of nine entrepreneurs and professional kiteboarders who made waves overseas.
It took two attempts in 24-hours, but the 61-year-old did make it into the Guiness Book of World Records as the oldest person to successfully kiteboard across the English Channel. His son also set a world record for the fastest cross-channel kitesurf.
But following Sam Branson to shore was a group of friends of the Branson of family, including entrepreneurs and professional kiteboarders from around the world such as Apple’s former product manager, Jason Fass, who's now an event organizer for the annual kiteboarding event of Silicon Valley techies in Maui, called Maitai. He was the only American, and was there on behalf of one of the major sponsors, theBlu, a social digital ocean. He and the entire crew set a record for the largest group crossing of the English Channel with a total of nine people.
“To say it was the most exciting day of kiteboarding I've ever had would be a HUGE understatement," says Fass, a big smile on his face.
Fass heard via email that Branson’s record-breaking attempt would take place on Saturday. He and his wife Adrianne were in the Bahamas at the time vacationing. Fass quickly booked a flight to Miami, Florida for the next day, and another from Miami to London to arrive a day later (last Friday morning). Then he took the Heathrow Express to Paddington, a taxi to St. Pancras, Eurostar train to Calais, France, and finally a taxi to a small hotel in Wimereux. Fass got a couple hours of sleep and was on the beach in Wimereux by 9:15am Saturday morning. Sir Richard Branson and a three others flew into Paris and then drove to the beach. They had a much shorter trip.
Leading up to the crossing, the French authorities wouldn't give them permission to cross. But the group decided to make the trip anyway, and they all dressed up in pirate outfits for the kiteboarding trek as Branson thought it seemed fitting if they were to evade the French authorities.
"As all our kites were in the air and the helicopter was buzzing the French beach taking photos of us, it hit me... I'm about to cross the English Channel with Richard and Sam Branson," exclaims Fass.
Branson’s son and the group set their records on day one, but Sir Richard Branson realized he needed a bigger kite to complete the crossing and ended up setting his record a day later. They all celebrated with fish & chips and cold beers at a local hotel.
Fass says, “Definitely a bucket list day.”