Fresh from winning windsurfing gold at the European Sailing Championships in Tel Aviv, Shahar Zubari has set his sights on September’s World Championships.
Zubari, 22, was the toast of Eilat after winning the European title. Victory followed his bronze at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and finishing third in the World Championships in New Zealand.
“My next goal is the World Championships in Weymouth,” he said. “I think I have matured since last year and I am capable of becoming world champion.”
The Weymouth event is especially significant as it will be held on the same course as the 2012 Olympics.
Last week in Tel Aviv hundreds of fans flocked to the seafront to watch a far more accomplished performance than Zubari’s Olympic efforts last year.
In China, Zubari built up a strong early lead in the 11-race competition but inconsistent sailing saw him throw away the lead, and he only scraped into the bronze contention with a strong last race.
In contrast he led throughout in Tel Aviv and was a model of consistency, winning four out of 11 races. He finished outside the top 10 once. By the final race, he had built up such an emphatic lead that he only needed to finish in the top eight. He cruised home third to the delight of the fans. “I felt from the start that this was going to be my championships,” he remarked.
“I can’t think of anything better than winning a gold medal in front of home support in Israel. I was concerned about the pressure before the event but it did not affect me.”
In need of a major sponsor, he said: “I’m going to have a rest now and then get into training for Weymouth. I’m still not at my peak but I’m on course for my goal of becoming world champion.”
There were also promising performances from other young Israelis. Nimrod Mashiach, Omri Hazor and Ron Asulin finished 10th, 15th and 20th respectively. In the women’s competition Maayan Davidovich was seventh.