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The Jewish Press of Tampa and the Jewish Press of Pinellas County are Independently- owned biweekly Jewish community newspapers published in cooperation with and supported by the Tampa JCC & Federation and the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, respectively. Copyright © 2009-2018 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved.


 

November 7, 2014  RSS feed
Front Page

Text: T T T

International windsurfing competition moved from Israel to Clearwater Beach

By BOB FRYER Jewish Press


An Israeli competitor at The RS:X Youth World Windsurfing Championships held Oct. 19-24 off Clearwater Beach, near Pier 60. The competition was supposed to be in Israel, but switched after the conflict with Hamas in the summer raised safety concerns. An Israeli competitor at The RS:X Youth World Windsurfing Championships held Oct. 19-24 off Clearwater Beach, near Pier 60. The competition was supposed to be in Israel, but switched after the conflict with Hamas in the summer raised safety concerns. When the RS:X Youth World Windsurfing Championship was switched from Israel to Clearwater Beach, local Jews turned out for the event to make sure the 12-member Israeli team was treated well and knew they had supporters here.

The competition took place off Clearwater Beach Oct. 19-24 with more than 100 windsurfers representing nations from four continents. It was a pinnacle event for the competitors, most of whom hope to land a spot on their nation’s Olympic teams for the 2016 or 2020 Olympic Games.

The world championships were originally to be held in Herzliya, Israel, near Tev Aviv, before the conflict with Hamas in the Gaza Strip broke out. A number of competitors were wary of the dangers and organizers feared some would not participate, so the organizing body began looking for another venue.


The Israeli windsurfing team, ranging in age from 15-17, is shown with their coaches, including head coach Roni Meir in pink shirt. In addition to competing, the team was treated to a trip to Busch Gardens, thanks to the generosity of local members of the Jewish community. The Israeli windsurfing team, ranging in age from 15-17, is shown with their coaches, including head coach Roni Meir in pink shirt. In addition to competing, the team was treated to a trip to Busch Gardens, thanks to the generosity of local members of the Jewish community. As tensions in Israel mounted, Jerome Samson of Clearwater, president of U.S. Windsurfing, was on hand to watch his daughter compete in a windsurfing event in France. He learned organizers were looking for a new place for the world championships, so he made some calls and managed to get the event moved to Clearwater Beach, said Eyal Kadury of St. Petersburg.

Kadury said he learned of the competition because his sister-inlaw, Orah Kadury, is a teacher at Goldwater high school in Eilat, Israel, and some of her students are on the Israeli windsurfing team.


Conditions were ideal in the Gulf of Mexico as more than 100 teens, including 12 from Israel, competed in the RS: X Youth World Windsurfing Championship off Clearwater Beach. Many of the competitors, hailing from four continents, have aspirations to race in the 2016 or 2020 Olympic Games. Conditions were ideal in the Gulf of Mexico as more than 100 teens, including 12 from Israel, competed in the RS: X Youth World Windsurfing Championship off Clearwater Beach. Many of the competitors, hailing from four continents, have aspirations to race in the 2016 or 2020 Olympic Games. “She called me and explained how the event got moved to Clearwater, which she knew was near me, so she asked me to go cheer them on,” said Kadury, a member of Chabad of St. Petersburg.

He went to the opening ceremonies and met the team and its coaches and got other local Jews to show up and support the group as well during the competition. The competition was held near Pier 60 and close to the shore, so it was easily viewed by beachgoers.

The windsurfers – seven boys and five girls ranging in age from 15-17 – came from various parts of Israel. They were accompanied by coaches and a bodyguard provided by the Israeli Consul General’s office in Miami.


Windsurfing contestant prepares for a race on Clearwater Beach. Windsurfing contestant prepares for a race on Clearwater Beach. When the championships were switched to Clearwater Beach, the Israeli team members had to pay their own way to get here and compete, Kadury said.

To make sure the team had a good time while visiting, he arranged a trip to Busch Gardens in Tampa on their day off, chipping in funds and getting others in the Jewish community from both sides of Tampa Bay to help with ticket costs. He said the team members loved it and one said it helped drive them on for the final two days of the competition.

The competitors were also warmly welcomed by city officials and merchants. Competitors got free passes for the Jolley Trolley, free admission to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and to the Clearwater Jazz Holiday, Kadury said.

There were various competitions and age brackets and team members had some success. Noy Drihan and Yoav Omer finished second in their events, winning silver medals; Shoval Raviztkey finished third and won a bronze medal and Maya Morris finished fourth in her event.

Mark Segel, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, met with the Israeli team’s coach, Roni Meir, and officially welcomed him and his team to Pinellas County.

Meir was surprised and pleased by the welcome and thanked the local Jewish community for the more than $60,000 raised over the summer via the Israel Emergency Campaign.

“It was very unfortunate that the competition was moved from Israel based on unwarranted fears about safety of the competitors. The silver lining is that at least our Clearwater Beach community will benefit and the successful competition proved that the Clearwater/ St. Pete Convention and Visitors Bureau can make things happen quickly and effectively, which provides the opportunity for more competitions like this one to come to our area,” Segel said.

The windsurfing competition was not the only international athletic event to be moved from Israel due to the Gaza conflict. A Davis Cup tennis match between Israel and Argentina was held in Sunrise in September.


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