Today, Sir Richard Branson, the Virgin Group chief completed the 22-mile crossing in his shiny black Gibbs Aquada amphibious craft in 100 minutes and six seconds, well below the previous record of six hours held by two Frenchmen in the 1960s. Dressed in a dinner jacket and bow tie, the British tycoon drove his $115,000 James Bond-like sportscar — which transforms into a speedboat — straight into the Guinness Book of World Records.
The sleek grey Aquada amphibious car, which seats 3 people, can travel at more than 100 miles per hour on land and 30 miles per hour on sea.
At the flick of a button the British engineered Aquada's wheels retract and the car is able to plane across the water.
Branson plans to put a fleet of Gibbs Aquadas into service for Virgin Atlantic Airline business customers.
He scheduled his 9am English Channel crossing to coincide with and to publicize the 20th anniversary of Virgin Atlantic Airways' trans-Atlantic flights.
The airline took its first flight from London to Newark, New Jersey on June 22nd, 1984. Today, the carrier is 49% owned by Singapore Airlines Inc.
The 53 year-old British entrepreneur traveled across the Channel with a Gibbs Engineer as his "co-pilot." Friends, family, press and frequent flyers followed 300 feet above the sea in a Virgin Atlantic A340-300 plane or behind in a flotilla of small boats.
The handsome, "rugged elegant" chairman of the Virgin Group, has also set world records crossing the Atlantic Ocean by hot air balloon and speed boat.
Happy 20th Anniversary Virgin!
To healthy, adventuresome living -- on land, on the surface of and under the sea, and in the air!