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Kitesurfers upskill, put wind in their sails

Thursday 31 March 2022 | Written by Al Williams | Published in Local, National

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Kitesurfers upskill, put wind in their sails
Students Ina Nooroa, Tem Strickland and Dan sitting with International Kiteboarding Organization (IKO) examiner Berny Maginn enjoying a coffee break in between study sessions at AirZone Kite School on the Karikari Peninsula in Northland, New Zealand. SUPPLIED/22033003

For most residents being in a bubble in the Cook Islands was a blessing and one of the best places in the world to be in during the Covid-19 related border closure.

For a local tourism business, the period was a perfect opportunity to upskill their staff.

Director of KiteSUP Cook Islands Ina Nooroa, and lead tour guide Temaruata Strickland (Tem), utilised the period to gain new skills.

And these new skills opened the door for the duo to go to New Zealand for an internationally recognised training programme through the International Kiteboarding Organisation (IKO).

According to Brynn Acheson-Nooroa of KiteSUP Cook Islands, during the two-year border closure Strickland learned to kitesurf.

“He picked it up quite quickly and spent as much time out on the water that the wind would allow,” Acheson-Nooroa said.

For an accomplished swimmer, adding another water sport to his belt was an easy decision for Strickland, who represented the Cook Islands in international swimming events.

His employment at KiteSUP Water Sports helped feed a desire to be a multi water sport athlete, Acheson-Nooroa said.

“He had the teaching skill set as a swimming coach so transitioning into teaching kitesurfing lessons was a challenge he wished to explore.”

Under the guidance and supervision of Level 3 instructor, Acheson-Nooroa, Strickland shadowed hours of lessons and even taught some lessons.

Ina Nooroa has been kitesurfing for the past 12 years.

“As the sport evolves so does the equipment and skills necessary to evolve with it. Nooroa’s lock down period was spent learning to wing surf,” Acheson-Nooroa said.

Wing surfing is simply the use of a hand held wing (kite) and wind in order to propel a board on the water. Wing surfing can be done in less wind and is easier to learn than kitesurfing, so it appeals to a wider audience.

Upon successful completion of the two-week New Zealand training programme, Strickland and Nooroa Ina will gain a Level 1 kite instructor qualification enabling them to teach straightaway around the globe.

They both will stay in Rarotonga and utilise their new qualifications for the time being.  

Acheson-Nooroa said the next milestone was to progress to a Level 2 instructor.

“This is achieved by teaching a certain number of hours as a Level 1 instructor, and passing an online exam.  

“As Level 2 instructors they can to set up an IKO kiteboarding school or become head instructors within an existing school.”

After completing week one of the level 1 training, Strickland said: “It’s been really informative for both Ina and I. We are definitely picking up on a lot of things we can bring back to Raro!”

Acheson-Nooroa said: “KiteSUP is anticipating a busy winter season and will be ready to offer kite and wing surfing lessons for complete beginners and experienced riders.”

“The most reliable windy conditions start in May and run through October. For more information call 27877.

“Life is full of opportunities and we all have choices to make on a daily basis. Sometimes the timing can be wrong or we let fear get in the way, but for Tem and Ina the timing was right and they have seized their opportunity to improve themselves and gain internationally recognised skills. Well done guys!”