Kitesurfer plans transatlantic crossing

A world champion kitesurfer who became the first person to kitesurf non-stop from France to Ireland at the weekend has now set his sights on an epic transatlantic crossing.

Frenchman Bruno Sroka, 37, who was relaxing at home near Brest, Brittany, in northern France yesterday, said he will use what he learned from the Brittany to Cork crossing to help him kitesurf from New York to Brest in two years.

And he thanked everyone greeted him at the mouth of Cork Harbour on Friday night, and who helped him celebrate his achievement at the Royal Cork Yacht Club later.

“It was an amazing feeling — I could feel the warmth of the welcome,” he said. “To be so long alone on the water, and then to see all the boats come out to meet me, it was a great pleasure for me. I will remember the welcome forever.”

Sroka, a three-time winner of the world cup who has kitesurfed the English Channel, the Gulf of Aqaba, and around Cape Horn, set off from a beach in Aber Wrac’h in Brittany at 6am on Friday.

He hoped to complete the 240-mile journey in 16 hours.

But as he nursed a sore neck and feet at home, he told how he had to add 10 miles to the route to catch stronger winds.

“It was a very difficult crossing. The forecast was good but the wind was lower than expected,” he said.

Conditions were perfect on the first leg to the Isles of Scilly off Cornwall with good winds giving him a speed of about 18-knots.

“I crossed my fingers to do the same for the Irish sea but unfortunately the winds dropped to seven knots off Scilly,” he said.

He changed his board three times to cope with the conditions and the winds picked up before dropping again 50-miles off the Cork coast.

“After 12-hours of kiting, the wind dropped and it made things complicated. I think I hit the wall, psychologically, at this point too,” he said.

“The last 25 miles was the most difficult. I was tired, and the wind dropped to five knots so I just tried to focus all my energy on flying the board, and not crashing.”

He finally sailed passed Roche’s Point at the mouth of Cork Harbour just after 10pm, transferred to his support team boat, and landed in Crosshaven for a huge welcome at the RCYC. He returned home by ferry on Saturday.

“I am really happy to do the crossing. I have been planning it for six or seven months,” he said.

“I am tired now but elated. But I don’t want to kitesurf for at least a week.”

He has begun analysing the crossing as he prepares to kitesurf between France and Tunisia as a stepping stone to his ultimate goal of becoming the first person to kitesurf the north Atlantic on the New York to Brest route in 2015 — a voyage expected to take between 25 and 30 days.

Tourism Ireland in France, which sponsored Sroka’s crossing, hopes the media exposure in France will showcase Ireland as a destination for surfing and kitesurfing.

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