Virgin boss Branson restores English pride

Fortunately cross-Channel attempt wasn't sunk in injury time...

Fortunately cross-Channel attempt wasn't sunk in injury time...

It may sound like the very definition of having more money than sense, but eccentric UK tycoon Richard Branson today set the record for driving across the British Channel in a sports car.

It will doubtless be news to most that such a record even existed, but an English public still smarting from last night's footballing defeat in their opening game of Euro 2004 may take some solace from hearing the record was previously held by two Frenchmen.

Branson took an incredible four and a half hours off the previous record, which had stood at six hours, as his craft, capable of speeds of 30 miles per hour on water, completed the 22-mile crossing from Calais.

Resplendent in dinner jacket and bow-tie, Branson, the man behind Virgin Mobile, Virgin.net and the whole of the Virgin empire, 'drove' into Dover harbour in his Gibbs Aquada amphibious car.

The James Bond-style auto can change into a speedboat at the press of the button.

Upon finishing his Channel crossing, Branson said: "Maybe it is not as important as football but it feels important right now."

The stunt is the latest in a string of challenges taken up by the bearded entrepreneur. His exploits have included a serious of hot-air balloon adventures - which have met with varying degrees of success.