Zubari looks to ride wave of recent success

Israeli windsurfers take center stage at this week's European Championships in Tel Aviv.

Zubari bronze 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
Zubari bronze 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
After picking up Olympic and World Championship medals, Shahar Zubari turns his attention to scaling the podium at this week's European Championships in Tel Aviv. The 22-year-old won Israel's only medal at the Beijing Olympics last summer, finishing third in the RS:X competition, and also claimed a bronze medal at the World Championships in New Zealand last January. However, a European Championship medal has escaped Zubari so far in his fledgling career, finishing eighth in the event in May of last year and sixth the previous year. Zubari is entering this week's championships in excellent form. The Eilat surfer won the prestigious World Cup windsurfing competition at the Semaine Olympique Francaise in Hyeres, France less than two months ago and will also be boosted by surfing on home waters. "I'm in excellent physical and mental condition and I'm really happy to be here," Zubari said ahead of the championships. "Everything is looking good for the championships and now it all depends on me doing what I know in the water." Zubari, who won the Israeli championships last week in Tel Aviv, in what was also a warmup event for the Europeans, will face stern competition for the medals. Six of the nine top ranked surfers in the world will be in Tel Aviv, with Zubari currently ranked fourth. The world number one, Julien Bontemps of France, won the silver medal in Beijing and finished last year's Europeans in second position as well. Another dangerous opponent is Portugal's Joao Rodrigues, who is ranked No. 3 in the world and is the defending champion at the Euros. Ivan Pastor Lafuente (5) and Piotr Myszka (8) will also be gunning for a medal, with Nimrod Mashiah, who finished second to Zubari in the Israel championships, one of the dark horses. "I'm facing some very tough opponents, but this is how it should be in the European Championships," Zubari said. In the women's competition, Israel's best hope of a medal is Ma'ayan Davidovich. The 21-year-old finished the Beijing Olympics in 10th position, the best result of her career by far. The competition favorites are the world's top two ranked surfers, Marina Alabau of Spain, and Bryony Shaw of Great Britain. Alabau just missed out on a medal in Beijing, ending the competition in fourth place, but hasn't finished worst than fourth in the last three World Championships and is the twotime defending champion in this event. Shaw won the bronze at the Olympics and finished second in the World Cup competition in Hyeres. Davidovich ended her first ever Europeans three years ago in eighth place, but in the last two championships could only manage 17th and 19th place respectively. However, Davidovich has trained in the Tel Aviv Sea all her life, an advantage she hopes to make the most of this week. "I can't wait for the start of the event," Davidovich said. "It's going to be a very tough and long competition. The fact I'm surfing at home gives me confidence. I know what to expect and I feel ready."