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Former US president Barack Obama is pictured larking around in the sea on holiday with pal Sir Richard Branson

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 2017-02-08 Mark Chandler
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After the pressures of life in the White House, Barack Obama has been enjoying some much-needed downtime with billionaire Sir Richard Branson.

While his successor Donald Trump was sailing into choppy waters, Mr Obama went kitesurfing around the British Virgin Islands in a race with his host.

Sir Richard revealed in his blog that the ex-president and wife Michelle had joined him for a “complete break” on Moskito Island after leaving Washington.

Photos and video of the men show them playfighting on board a speedboat before taking to the waves.

Former US President Barack Obama on holidays with Richard Branson

Former US President Barack Obama on holidays with Richard Branson
© Richard Branson

The business mogul  said Mr Obama had confided that he had not had the chance to go surfing or take part in watersports during his two terms in office.

He explained: “It was tremendous to offer him the chance to learn to kitesurf. 

“The sport has really taken off in the past decade and we have the perfect conditions and team to help anyone learn.

“I have also wanted to learn foilboard surfing. So we decided to set up a friendly challenge: could Barack learn to kitesurf before I learned to foilboard? 

“We agreed to have a final day battle to see who could stay up the longest.”

The Virgin founder claimed Mr Obama spent two days solid learning his new skill, a sport which involves using a surfboard with a power kite attached.

And, despite the distraction of a phalanx of security guards keeping an eye on him, Mr Obama learned well enough to trounce the entrepreneur in a sun-drenched race later that week.

Sir Richard wrote: “Barack and I both fell many times, but we kept trying again and again and made progress over the days. 

“We were neck and neck until the last run on the last day, when I got up on the foilboard and screamed along for over 50 metres, three feet above the water.

“I was feeling very pleased with myself, only to look over and see Barack go 100 metres on his kiteboard! I had to doff my cap to him and celebrate his victory.”

And he revealed the pair would holiday together again, when battle would recommence.

He wrote: “After all he has done for the world, I couldn’t begrudge him his well-deserved win.

“Now he has left, I’m going back into the water to practice for the next challenge. On his next visit, we plan to do the long kite over to Anegada together.

“Next time, may the best (British) man win!”

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