Wellington Harbour

About 38 windsurfers and six kitesurfers took full advantage of yesterday's blustery Wellington morning for their annual "Harbour Blast" race around Matiu/Somes Island.

It was the first time in the history of the decades-old race that kitesurfers had taken part - though they had to start later than their water-bound colleagues for safety reasons.

Race officer Bob Zuur, of Wellington Windsurfing Association, said racers took off from Hikoikoi reserve in Petone about 11am and finished at Eastbourne some 25 minutes later.

Contestants James Court and Jimmie Fourie, both of Wellington, took out the board and kite sections respectively - though it was not clear by last night which of the two had completed the course faster, Mr Zuur said.

Conditions had been "close to ideal" and the match-up between the two wind codes would hopefully lead to more joint events, he said. "There's quite a bit of competition between the two . . . They're kind of like Aussies and Kiwis."

Wellington had once been too dangerous for a lot of kitesurfing but rapid advances in technology had made the sport much safer on the gusty harbour, he said.

The city is home to about 200 windsurfers and 40 kitesurfers.

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