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Where's it gone?

Blimey, it's autumn already. Conkers on the ground, more clouds than sun, the water's bloody freezing....

Perfect for Aquaskipping, then. A few months have passed since my last blog, but uneventful they haven't been. An exhausting week on the Isle of Wight introduced several hundred newbies to aquaskipping, and just a handful of them managed to get to grips with it a little too quickly for my liking. Those long sessions at Bray Lake and the Cefn Hengoed swimming pool seem like light years away now, but barely six months had passed between my late February introduction to the 'sport' and a momentous day at Hove Lagoon, just down the road from Brighton. The Lagoon was about to witness a record attempt. The radios were crackling, a helicopter hovered overhead (although we suspect there may have been a local robbery, or something), journalists hovered: the bloke who skateboarded across Australia has a new mode of transport, and today he's going for the British 100m record.

It stood at 27 seconds, a young AQUASKIPPER BRITISH RECORDchap from the Isle of Wight called Ben Farmer had laid down the gauntlet. My turn, now. Chilled Turtle, new clothing label extraordinaire, sponsored the event, the Lagoon staff set up my starting platform - an upturned rowing boat. I've been bouncing for six months and now it's time to turn dreams into reality, I want to become the fastest person in Britain. On an Aquaskipper.

The wind is up, the water slightly choppy, but this is it. The first run's time was called out. 28 seconds. Bugger. Fifteen minutes later I went again, 26.9 seconds this time. But these were warm-ups, over 130 metres. Panting a bit by now, I take a break as the official hundred metre course is mapped out by GPS. I start to zone out, head down, heart beating soundly through my rashvest. I have missed this, the pulse of challenge, the possibility of achievement just around the corner.

Let's get this straight. It's not the Olympics. It's not even a wet Wednesday evening in Sheffield. I'm about to attempt a record in a sport that few than 0.1 of the population has heard about, but everything starts somewhere, right? It was only a couple of centuries ago that a bloke punted a pig bladder inbetween two trees. Have you seen how many people watch the football World Cup now?

This isn't about recognition, either. Who knows the name of pig bladder man, after all? I'm always battling against myself and to a degree I'm satisfying my need for a challenge, but on the other hand I think this Aquaskipping malarky can go places and put smiles on faces, if I can kick-start that then why the hell not...

Run 3. It's official now. 23.62 seconds. New record.
Run 4. 23.91 seconds. So close.
Run 5. 22.50. Really want to break 22 seconds now.
Run 6. 22.25. Go on then, one more for luck.
Run 7. 21.96. A new record, breaking the old one by over 5 seconds.

Well, that was a very good day.

There's now talk of an Aquaskipping world championships in Australia early next year. I'm over there to promote the BoardFree book which launches on February 1st Down Under, so why not throw in another world championships at the same time.

The Aquaskipper continues to pull in the occasional bit of media coverage. At some point very soon The One Show on BBC1 will transmit Phil Tufnell's visit to our Aquaskipping camp on the Isle of Wight, and this evening, in about six hours to be precise, I'll be chatting to Chris Evans on BBC Radio 2.