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Friday, 6 September, 2002, 11:54 GMT 12:54 UK
Kitesurfer crosses Irish Sea
Kirsty Jones
Kirsty Jones steps ashore at Martin's Haven
A Pembrokeshire extreme sports enthusiast has become the first person to kitesurf 70 miles across the Irish Sea.

Kirsty Jones, 24 from Marloes arrived at Martin's Haven, a short distance from her home, just over five hours after leaving Rosslare in the Irish Republic.

Mike and Pat Jones
Mike and Pat Jones: proud parents

Jones, the current women's UK kitesurfing champion, made the 70-mile crossing on Friday balanced on a four-foot-long surfboard and attached by harness to a kite which pulled her over the sea.

The crossing is also expected to have raised thousands of pounds for the Ty Hafan Children's Hospice near Cardiff.

Jones had been given a free 500 bookie's bet on herself to complete the task at odds of 2-1.

She was due to have reached landfall at Broad Haven but her support crew decided to shorten her journey by about four miles because of her fatigue.

"At least I am closer to home and my bed," she said.

Jones was greeted by crowds of well wishers which included her parents Mike and Pat Jones and her pet black labrador dog Sersha.

Kirsty Jones
Kirsty Jones preparing her equipment

When she landed she admitted that the effort nearly got the better of her on two occasions, but she said when she saw a porpoise nearby it gave her the inspiration to carry on.

"It is a strange feeling being back on land and I am a bit wobberly.

"The sea was so choppy and the wind picked up and I nearly gave in, but then I glimpsed land which gave me so much hope."

Her father Mike nearly missed his daughter's momentous feat.

"I rushed here from Hereford and I got here just two minutes before Kirsty.

"I would not have wanted to have missed it for the world."

Jones' mother Pat was also proud of her daughter's achievement.

"She is an amazing girl a real dare devil and everybody loves her," she said.

Special training

However, Jones said she had changed her mind about her next record attempt.

"I had been thinking of doing the Atlantic but I have definitely been put off by that."

Kitesurfing - which originated in France in the 1990s - demands special training.

A massive kite is used instead of a windsurf sail to generate the power needed to surf and jump over the waves.

The four-foot board is similar to a wake or surfboard and can reach speeds in excess of 30mph.

The kite is attached to the surfer by a harness at the end of a 30 metre line and is controlled by a bar similar to a water-ski handle.

Kite-surfers can jump as high as 40 feet in the air when taking part.

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 ON THIS STORY
BBC Wales' Rebecca John
"Irish bookies have given Kirsty 500 to put a bet on herself"

Where I Live, South West Wales
See also:

21 Aug 02 | Wales
13 Sep 01 | Golf
27 Dec 00 | Other Sports
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