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Record-holder disputes English Channel crossing

Sir Richard Branson, the British entrepreneur who founded the Virgin Group, is challenging a claim that a New Zealand businessman has broken the record Branson set last year for crossing the English Channel in an amphibious car.

Nick Fox, who lives in London, crossed the Channel from England to France Tuesday in the New Zealand-designed “amphibious boat” Sealeg in 43 minutes, 12 seconds. The record set by Branson, who made the crossing last June, is just over 1 hour, 40 minutes.

Branson questions whether Sealeg qualifies as “amphibious” because of how slowly it moves on land, according to a BBC news report. The vehicle, which resembles a rigid-hull inflatable and has three wheels that retract upon entering the water, reportedly travels around 5 mph on land but better than 40 mph on the water.

Fox says in the report that Sealeg is primarily a boat but “can drive itself in and out of the sea,” making it “count as an amphibious vehicle.”

Branson made the crossing in a Gibbs Aquada, a gray-and-black sports car built by Gibbs Technologies of Warwickshire, England. The amphibious car seats three and reaches speeds greater than 100 mph on land and 30 mph on water, according to the company.

Fox’s time and vehicle type must be ratified by Guinness World Recordsofficials.

Jason Fell