By Adela Suliman.
Tripoli, 21 April 2014:
This weekend saw the first National Windsurfing Championship in Libya. . . .[restrict]Organised by the Tripoli Sailing Federation and the Windsurfing Organising Committee and sponsored by Madaar Al Jadeed, the event took place over three days with the first ever windsurfing slalom in Libya on Thursday, race courses on Friday and the closing ceremony on Saturday.
Pediatric doctor and technical manger for the event Mahmoud Elfituri has been windsurfing for eight years and is a passionate advocate of the sport: “We’re trying to get the sport going in Libya again,” he told the Libya Herald.
There were 26 participants in the championship drawn from across the country including Benghazi, Zuwara and Zliten. There were also a handful of foreign competitors, from the UK and France. Although, there had been some impact on numbers due to the airport closures in the east, this did not deter the organisers.
The sun was bright and the wind was strong as competitors rounded yellow buoys vying for first place while agilely guiding their sails. “We want to gather people from all over Libya. Sports truly unite people,” said Mahmoud.
Mahmoud was introduced to windsurfing at a young age, initially through membership of a swimming club. In 1994, his club was given rudimentary windsurfing equipment and he was taught the basics. He quickly fell in love with the sport and continued to self-teach throughout medical school. He now competes regularly and teaches others. “We don’t have any financial aims. We just want to introduce more people to the sport.”
Participation in the championship was free of charge, with food and accommodation provided by the organisers and many volunteers. The organisers hope that the 2015 competition will see an increase in participants. They ara aiming for at least 60.
“It’s exhilarating to be flying on the sea without an engine and only the power of the wind,” says Mahmoud. Windsurfing is a popular and social sport practiced throughout Libya, with many town having their own clubs, the largest currently being in Zuwara.
Emad Twaib is the head of the Tripoli Sailing Federation and the organising committee for this weekend’s championship.
“We have participants from all over the country. “Our youngest participant is just 11 years old!”, he said. “We are extremely pleased and excited. This is the biggest event for windsurfing we’ve ever run. We also run smaller events throughout the year but this is the only national championship. We very much hope to run more and we thank all of those dedicated and talented participants.”
The competition ended with the Slalom fleet being won by Esrafeel Jarafa.
Second was Mahmud Omar Elfituri and third Alaa Ben Hussein. Friday and Saturdays race course winners were Sohaib Alghali (first), Zakariya Jbara (second) and Saif Aleslam Dghibij (third).
Many spectators were also pleased to see Libya using its beautiful coastline, the longest in Africa. “It’s refreshing to see such a positive event taking place in Libya, bringing people together from all over the country” said Florence Cowen from the UK.
“On the water, we are all one,” noted Mahmoud. [/restrict]