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.

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Poole Lifeboat

In strong breezy conditions, the inshore lifeboat was called out to a report of a kite that was separated from a kitesurfer and the first informant was unsure whether the kitesurfer was safe.

Initially the lifeboat and crew made their way towards Shore Road on the inside of the harbour at Whitley Lake but the Coastguard then informed them that the incident was occurring on the seaward side of Shore Road.

The crew started to search close inshore and were quickly able to see two kitesurfers walking along the beach near Jazz’s café.

Poole Coastguard mobile then arrived on scene and the coastguard rescue officers were able to check that one of them was the person whose kite was reported in trouble.

Once the lifeboat crew were sure that the kitesurfer was safe they were able to return to station.

IKA & PKRA joint forces

The International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) and the Professional Kiteboard Riders Association (PKRA) came to an agreement regarding the issues raised by PKRA prior to joining the IKA. It will be noted that IKA was sanctioned by the International Sailing Federation as the worldwide governing body of kiteboarding.

In a marathon conference call held Saturday, IKA Chairman Christian Conrad, IKA Executive Secretary Markus Schwendtner, PKRA President Mauricio Toscano and PKRA Media Director Paul Caswell finally agreed to several key issues raised by the PKRA. Although there are still several details that need to be discussed, both Schwendtner and Toscano declined to give details pending further talks.

Among the main key issues agreed upon during the conference is the splitting up of the Freestyle category during the 2009 season into two disciplines, Progressive Freestyle and Freestyle.

"Due to the fact that both styles of Freestyle are so different, and the fact that the riders have not enough time to adapt and to train for a unified judging system, the Freestyle category will be split into two disciplines, "Progressive Freestyle" and "Freestyle", said Schwendtner.

This resolves the issues about judging criteria as well as grading events that the PKRA raised against IKA. These two disciplines will be major disciplines this year where the PKRA will host Progressive Freestyle World Championship events while KPWT will host Freestyle World Championship events.

Another major issue resolved is the judging guidelines where both parties agreed that in order to develop a unified set of freestyle rules for 2010, a judging sub-committee will be formed in 2009, who will handle the input from riders or their representatives.

The judging sub-committee will consist of head judges from both world tour organizations, appointed riders from both tours, as well as representatives from the larger national kiteboarding associations. This patched up the issue regarding riders' input into the development of the sport, which is also one of the key issues raised by the PKRA.

Paul Caswell, who initiated the recent conferences, also mentioned that both organizations will be working on further details in the coming weeks before the start of the 2009 season.

"PKRA and IKA will be working on all the details over the next week and more details will follow, including ranking issues and fine-tuning of the sanctioning agreement among others," added Caswell.

With the key issues now with clear solutions, both the PKRA and IKA are optimistic regarding talks over the coming week and both are expecting a good outcome in ironing out all issues.