BEIRUT: A crew of young sailors got to show off their newly learned skills Monday at a sailing regatta in Halat, north of Jounieh, for adolescents under 14 years old.
Lebanon Water Festival, an annual summer-long project aiming to raise awareness about the country’s wealth of water sports, teamed up this year with the Halat Club and provided the sailing school with eight Optimist sailboats suited for students younger than 14.
Monday was the culmination of that project as young Lebanese sailors competed against the Aquamarina Club Sailing Team from Jordan in a friendly regatta.
Ahmad Laham, 11, one of the visiting Jordanian sailing students, won Monday’s race with 5 points.
“It was nice to compete in Lebanon and show my skills I learned here and in Aqaba,” Laham said. “The Lebanese have been so helpful and nice to all of us.”
Mazen Alaouni, secretary-general and coach of the Aquamarina Club, said he was happy to have his team compete here.
“By competing outside Jordan, our athletes will know how to improve their skills,” Alaouni said. “It is also important for our athletes to visit Lebanon and exchange experiences with the Lebanese athletes.”
Sailing instructor Jean Louis Zabal has been training the Lebanese team since June and spent the past two days teaching the young Lebanese and Jordanian sailors.
At Monday’s regatta, sailors as young as 11 years old fought through 10 knot winds that rose to 14 knots with strong waves by the end of the morning. Later Monday, some parts of the country even saw rain.
“We had to start early in order to have good conditions for each regatta. The wind picked up throughout the afternoon which made each regatta more difficult,” Zabal said.
Second- and third-place winners Monday were Jordanian competitor Mohammad Yehia, 12, and Lebanese Taymour Armani, also 12.
Saturday and Sunday also saw regattas between the Aquamarina Club of Jordan and a sailing team from Automobile et Touring Club du Liban in Kaslik. In the over-14 category on Laser sail boats Rhia Charabaty came in first, Hassan Lahem in second and Rami Bessil in third. The results for the under-14 regatta saw one of the water festival’s first athletic victories for a girl, with Myriam Abou Aedel coming in third.