Two kitesurfers reported missing around Wellington in New Zealand

February 9, 2009 | Kiteboarding

Wellington, NZ

Two kitesurfers have been reported missing and then accounted for, but emergency services were still looking for a kite surfer in a busy day on the waters around Wellington.

Strong winds have meant good conditions for wind and kite surfers but the Kapiti and Mana coastguards, the police maritime unit and other officers have been kept busy this afternoon with reports of surfers getting into trouble.

Searchers earlier this afternoon were looking for a windsurfer off the coast of Plimmerton after he disappeared from view after falling off his board just after 3pm.

He was accounted for a short time later, before another windsurfer was reported to have been pushed off his board further north, off Paraparaumu, about 6pm.

He was picked up by the coastguard about 6.45pm but his board was still at sea, "probably somewhere between Kapiti Island and the mainland", said Inspector Ken Climo of police central communications.

Then at 7.15pm, witnesses back towards Plimmerton reported seeing a kite surfer fail to get back up after a fall. The search for him was to continue until it started to get dark about 8.30pm, Mr Climo said.

Strong winds made conditions on the water attractive for wind and kite surfers, and a lot of locals were watching them.

However, onlookers were becoming concerned when they did not see them right themselves.

It was a difficult problem and police had to treat each report on its own merits, Mr Climo said.

"We want people to ring up," he said.

The surfers tended to go out by themselves, and unless people saw them get into trouble they were only noticed missing when they failed to return home, which could be hours later.

Meanwhile, quick thinking by an onlooker helped a couple of young girls who took to the waves in a rubber dinghy off Moa Point, on Wellington's south coast about 4.30pm.

The pair were being dragged out past the breakwater and would have been unable to get back by themselves without assistance.

The girls were completely unprepared to go to sea and were not wearing lifejackets, Mr Climo said.

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