Whipping up windsurfing in the Cook Islands
The first small group of windsurfing tourists organised through the Madloop Windsurf Centre and supported by <strong>Pacific Islands Trade & Invest</strong> is headed to Aitutaki in the Cook Islands for a week’s windsurfing holiday.<!--more-->
[caption id="attachment_3546" align="alignright" width="138" caption="Local children at the Muri Beach Sailing Club in Rarotonga helping to rig the windsurfer in May 2012."]<a href="https://pacifictradeinvest.com/PTI/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/sailing.jpg"><img class="size-full wp-image-3546" title="sailing" src="https://pacifictradeinvest.com/PTI/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/sailing.jpg" alt="" width="138" height="104" /></a>[/caption]
The tour is led by the maddest and keenest windsurfer of them all, Alan McIntosh, who also runs one of the biggest windsurfing schools in Oceania at Lake Pupuke in Auckland. Developing niche tourism opportunities is part of PT&I’s plan and it is hoped that this will be the first of many windsurfing tours to Aitutaki.
Although windsurfing has lost ground to its cousin kite surfing, Alan is hoping to promote the sport by making winter windsurfing tours to the Cook Islands an annual event.
Although this initial tour group is relatively small, Alan said he had no real trouble in finding takers. He is hoping to build on this niche tourism opportunity and pump more interest back into the sport.
In the second week of his stay, Alan and one of his instructors will give free windsurfing lessons to local children in association with the sailing academy. Back in May, Alan was rigging up a board but within 5 minutes a group of children fresh from Saturday morning sailing lessons had crowded around to see what he was doing.
Minutes later they were helping him carry the board down to the beach. Alan said it was the first time he had ever had his board carried to the water by anyone. Teaching more children to sail is part of an overall plan by the Cook Islands to groom more sailors to one day compete at international levels in water sports.