I would be extremely cautious of doing a cross-channel trip in the Dover <>Folkestone area.
It is indeed true, as above, that it has been done two or three times over the past few years. However, whilst much security and planning may have gone into the journeys, they did not have the consent of both sides of the channel
It is never a good idea, but us kiters are clearly not of the DNA to do sensible things!!! However, even though HM Coastguard UK are more open to discussion in general, and legally, there is nothing they can do to stop you, they have clear requirements on what is necessary. They even employ a guy called Kaimes Beasley, who is also a kiter, to officiate over what they call "unorthodox crossings". I even have a pdf sheet from HMCG that they have written on the subject. BUT the main issue is the french side, where it is not excluded from the law books, but actively included as being forbidden. If you go, you could be emprisoned or fined heavily. These guys arent to be fucked with! I have a file just on correspondence with the various authorities in the Cap Gris Nez area. At best, you will bring kitesurfing's name into worse repute. At worst, having had this warning, if all went wrong, you may not even be covered by the BKSA insurance.
Christ knows how Top Gear managed their topic - I guess it had something to do with an open cheque book. I even employed the services of the guy who officiated their cross-channel attempt, and he was quick to dismiss my request after a few days as impossible.
Further down the coast, it is far simpler and I have managed to get authority for Poole < > Cherbourg. Yes, this is 68 miles, not 22, so its a far more serious issue. That means you need to present both HMCG Weymouth (who deal with Poole area) and the authorities at Cherbourg (Prefecture AND C-G) with a detailed itinerary, AIS and VHF Call-Sign of the mothership, details of all accompanying vessels, and a full H&S Risk Assessment (I have one that you may copy)
With a partner, we managed 24 miles earlier in September this year, but time got the better of us and an ETA of after-dark, prevented us from continuing. We learned loads from this journey, but mostly that it CAN be done, its not insurmountable.
The beauty of Cherbourg and the work I have done to befriend a few of them there (using some french natives I have as workmates too) si that they will now also allow trips leaving their shores (which has never been allowed as you dont have offshore status with a kiteboard, so after three miles they are seen to be shunning responsibility). I have a waiver of this, which allows a S>N crossing, the benefit being that if you get lifted or knocked by tide or wind or fatigue, Weymouth is as good as Christchurch is as good as Poole as a final landing point. I can help with this if needs be. But you would then need a comfortable means of transport to get to France to start off, having made the call to switch from N>S to S>N
I worry about several of you doing it. Our mothership and tender were hard pressed to cover both kitesurfers - it is amazing how different speeds and wind angles gave for two differing results. Just saying "we'll stick close to each other" is not good enough - it doesnt work like that out there. Doing a multi-kite crossing would be a nightmare, unless you had one RIB per boat PLUS a mothership, who would carry radar, AIS, VHF and first aid kit, as well as photographers, supporters etc. Each of you should carry flares and a camelpck. And work out good comms skills, as in heavy winds it is hard to hear what a kitesrfer is saying over the sounds of engines, wind & waves
I am an ex-Portsmouth Student (Poly 1982-1986) and started the Portsmouth Offshore Racing Club in 1983 (flip - 26 years ago)! For this reason, I'd love to help, and if I can can find time to provide mothership services, I will indeed
Our own trip is on a wrap until May 2010, but we will be back!