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Windsurfers take on the English Channel

They have cramps everywhere, but neither Antoine Albeau of France nor Guy Cribb of Great Britain regret windsurfing the 70 miles across the English Channel to raise money for charity.

Albeau and Cribb spent six hours sailing Wednesday through stormy weather, according to They left Cherbourg at 10 a.m. and arrived in Poole around 4 p.m. after encountering some large swells and choppy water. Albeau was on a 22-foot Starboard Sonic 111 with an NP RS/Racing sail and Cribb used a 19-foot Mistral Slalom Board with a North Sails Ram sail. They reported their top speed was 40 mph, slicing through powerful currents and confused seas. When they were 30 miles from land, the waves got so big they lost sight of each other and their support boats, according to the report.

“We could not slow down as we didn’t have permission from the French authorities to leave their shores, so we needed to cover the first 15 miles or so as fast as possible,” says Cribb. “Needless to say, they didn’t catch us.”

Cribb recounts how at times they were sometimes bounced into mid-air, twisted around, and then released for a flat landing. Though they tried to control it, oftentimes they would just have to resign to being dropped hard by the seas. Their path was further inhibited by the tanker traffic that crisscrossed them.

Cribb admits he could barely bring himself to finish the last 10 miles.

“I was cold, sick, in pain and with zero energy,” he says in the report. “Oh, and lots of cramps, too — for the first time in my life I even got a cramp in my thumb.”

But they got their second wind, so to speak, as they neared SandbanksBeach in the England to a mass of media and an enthusiastic crowd. They arrived sore and in pain, but elated to have finished the task. They raised roughly $12,000 for the Ellen MacArthur Trust that helps impoverished families reach a higher standard of living.

— Elizabeth Ellis