Kiteboarders ride 279.46 kilometers against the Russia-Ukraine conflict

September 21, 2015 | Kiteboarding
Sports Above Politics: Juuso Tilaeus, Maxim Ivanov and Stanislav Kulikov kite crossed the Gulf of Finland | Photo: Virgin/Sports Above Politics

Can sports rise above politics? For sure. Three kiteboarders from Russia, Ukraine and Finland have teamed up to kite cross the Gulf of Finland. With a message flying high like their kites.

Russian Maxim Ivanov, Ukrainian Stanislav Kulikov and Finish Juuso Tilaeus have sailed together 279.46 kilometers (173.6 miles) between Helsinki and St. Petersburg, in challenging weather conditions.

"We don't like the relationships between our countries, which are fraternal peoples and neighbors. We hope that our project [Sports Is Above Politics] contributes to peace and mutual understanding between countries," underlined Ivanov.

"For me, it started quite suddenly. I was in Egypt at home doing my own business, and then Kirilll wrote to me: 'Do you want to go?' And immediately, without any questions, I said: 'Yes, okay, I agree, I'm going'" reveals Kulikov.

All three riders aim to raise awareness for the tense political conflict between Ukraine and Russia. They want to show politicians and national leaders that people from both nations share friendship and common interests.

The non-stop adventure was successfully completed in 12 hours. They've set a new world record, and they might have inspired a few brains with power. Richard Branson gave thumbs up.

"What unfolded was an incredible adventure that not only battled stormy seas to show how sport can be a positive influence on broader issues. I know there are many, many people who share Maxim, Stanislav and Juuso's desire for peace and friendship," wrote the Virgin boss and avid kiteboarder.