If you think Israeli success in international sports these days, you think windsurfing.
That’s the competition, also known as sailboarding, in which a racer rides the waves on a surfboard attached to a sail.
Israel earned its only Olympic gold medal in history, at the Athens Games of 2004, for windsurfing, and it earned a bronze, also in windsurfing, at Beijing last year.
This year’s RS:X European Championships, one of the sport’s prestigious classes, is taking place on the Mediterranean coast off of Tel Aviv, highlighted by the city’s skyscrapers and Jaffa’s minarets, and Israel is excelling as host and competitor.
Shahar Zubari, right, who won Israel’s bronze in the Olympics last year, won both of the opening races this week. A female Israeli racer, Ma’ayan Davidovich, also took the early lead in her division.
With the shore behind them, windsurfers, above, set off in a qualifying round.
The 10-day championships, hosted by the Tel Aviv Municipality, the Israeli Yachting Association and Hapoel Tel Aviv Yacht Club, are taking place in the waters of Tel Aviv as part of the city’s centennial celebration. Mayor Ron Huldai offered an official welcome.
About 100 top windsurfers are entered in the 2009 championships.
Zubari, a 22-year-old native of Eilat, said he was pleased with his early showing. “I couldn’t have dreamed of a better start,” he said. “I surfed two great races, and that was my goal. The conditions are in my favor, and I hope I can continue this way.”