A Frenchman this morning spoke of his delight at becoming the first person to successfully kitesurf non-stop from France to Ireland following an epic 250 nautical mile voyage from Brittany to Cork.
Bruno Sroka (37) from Brest in Brittany arrived at Roche's Point at the mouth of Cork Harbour at 10.02pm last night to a tumultous welcome from locals who had travelled out in RIBS to congratulate him on completing the epic journey in 17 hours.
“I feel very happy - physicially I knew it was going to be tough but psychologically, it was even more tough because at 50 nautical miles, I just wanted to stop, I couldn’t see the coast and I didn’t know if I was making any real progress.
“This was when my support team in the safety boat helped me hugely by encouraging me because I did not have this experience before - even when I went around Cape Horn, I could see the coast and see I was making progress.”
Mr Sroka, a three-time World Champion who took up kite-surfing at the age of 23, looked relaxed on the marina outside the Royal Cork Yacht Club as he revealed he sailed at least 10 nautical miles more than the planned 240 mile route to catch good winds.
He explained that he had good winds of 25 knots leaving Aber Wrac’h near Plouguerneau in northern Finisterre in Brittany at 6.20pm local time yesterday but winds dropped to just six knots as he neared the Isles of Scilly off Cornwall.
He had planned to stay east of the Isles of Scilly but sailed west of them to get better winds only for the winds to drop again to around five knots as he neared within 50 nautical miles of the Cork coast, making the last stage the toughest of the voyage.
“That was very difficult - there was a haze of heat on the sea but then eventually we saw the lighthouse at Roches Point and I transferred into the safety boat when I reached Cork Harbour and came into Crosshaven,” he said.
Hundreds of people lined the marina of the RCYC in Crosshaven, the oldest yacht club in the world while crews on boards the dozens of yachts moored in the channel, applauded him as he came ashore around 11pm last night to a hero’s reception.
“You cannot imagine the feeling - what I like about Ireland is you feel such friendliness here and the people here in Crosshaven were so friendly - I was very happy to have this feeling and I would like to thank the people for coming out to welcome me.”
Mr Sroka revealed that he had come up with idea for the trip some six months ago but said he was "extremely lucky" to get Tourism Ireland to sponsor the project and he hoped it would highlight what Ireland has to offer water sport enthusiasts.
“Ireland is such a great place for kite surfing and other water sports - on the voyage, we had such a calm sea and at one stage we had a dolphin swimming beside me and I’m just happy to be able to promote it as somewhere to visit.”
Resting at the RCYC, Mr Sroka revealed that while his support team are heading back to Brest by RIB, he was taking a more leisurely route home. “I go by ferry to Roscoff - I return in comfort and I don’t want to kite again for at least two weeks,” he joked.