A 13-year-old girl is riding on the crest of a wave after becoming the youngest person ever to water-ski across the English Channel.
Lauren Bird set off from the coast of Dover with 79-year-old Robin Hanbury-Tenison in a joint attempt to break the records for youngest and oldest to complete the crossing.
But choppy conditions caused the elderly adventurer to abandon his attempt three miles in – and Lauren was thrown into the water just ten minutes after setting off at 6am.
The adventurous teen, who has been water-skiing for less than two years, was left with broken ski bindings and the pair were forced to return to shore.
But after repairing and refuelling, determined Lauren decided to attempt the challenge again – this time sailing to France first and water-skiing in the opposite direction, so the wind would be behind her.
Just 54 minutes and six seconds after leaving Cap Gris Nez, the year nine student arrived at English shores, having travelled more than 20 miles.
Lauren, from Burnham-on-Sea, Somerset, who is the current European and British Champion in her age category, said: “When we tried at first light I was so disappointed that my ski binding broke.
“I saw a break in the weather at 10am and nagged my Dad to let me have another go.
“I am only used to skiing for 20 minutes at a time so I had to dig deep and this took all of my reserves.
“I had been doing a lot of training on the water as well as land-based exercises, like going for runs, to build up my strength.
“It was quite difficult. At points, I would think, ‘Why am I doing this?'”
“But it was such an amazing feeling and I really enjoyed it. I’m aching loads now but I’m on top of the world.”
Lauren now hopes to take her talents to the world championships.
“I really really want to go,” she said. “It will take loads of training and hard work, but it would be amazing.”
Lauren’s father, Steve, a builder, who watched as his daughter completed the crossing with her mother Cathy, 43, who works in a primary school, said: “Lauren skied magnificently.
“To have managed 10 miles and then have her binding break was so disappointing for her, but it is typical of her gutsy determination that she wanted to attempt the record again.
“She skied over 30 miles today and straight into the record books. We are both so proud of our daughter.”
The challenge was proposed by 79-year-old Robin Hanbury-Tenison, from Cornwall, who took part alongside Lauren in an attempt to become the oldest person to water ski across the Channel.
He said: “I didn’t get very far and realised that I wasn’t going to make it.
“There was no way that I was going to fight those waves for an hour and a half.”
Robin, who was fundraising for Survival International, a charity which defends the rights and traditions of tribes, abandoned his attempt after three miles.