NEWPORT BEACH — They are a pair of wealthy risk-takers from opposite sides of the Pond coming together for the first time to embark on a deep sea adventure.
But some rich men have more money than other rich men. And so Sir Richard Branson, the British billionaire-adventurer who founded the Virgin Group of companies, is sponsoring Newport Beach real estate investor and millionaire Chris Welsh's submarine expedition to the world's deepest ocean depths.
The two men announced their plans Tuesday at the Newport Harbor Yacht Club, where Welsh belongs as a member.
A tall, scruffy man with wide blue eyes and a sailor's tan, Welsh spoke nervously at the press conference after Branson, chairman of the Virgin Group.
"People all say they'd like to do this," Welsh said. "The truth is, we all can."
Landing a financial sponsor like Branson was the only way he could make his project a reality. By the time the two finally talked, Welsh had already invested about $1 million of his own money, and was running out of cash fast.