Showing posts with label Isreal. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Isreal. Show all posts

Sunday, March 9, 2008

The Struggles of an Israeli Surfer: Rising Above the Crashing Waves 06:14 AM

MAINSTREAM MEDIA REPORT - THE JERUSALEM POSTInterview: Rising above the crashing wavesBy TALIA KATZ Aviv Vaknin has had to struggle against the elements throughout his career. From a life threatening fall, to facing a surfing world that thinks his country is stuck in the middle of the desert, Vaknin is constantly defying expectations.The three-time Israeli surfing champion has travelled all over the globe, and he told The Jerusalem Post this week that the people he comes up against are largely unaware of the realities of living and surfing in Israel."The first thing they ask is if we have a sea - the media doesn't help, because if they are showing Israel they show war, and this is the stigma we have. But I try and explain that that isn't how it is. We have waves, we have McDonald's," he laughs."If they see an Israeli surfer, they ask all the time, 'You probably kill a lot of Arabs, don't you?' They ask if we ride a donkey. No man! We have cars, we have everything here. We are a civilized country."And the oddity of a surfer from the Middle East doesn't end there.

The unusual surfing conditions - smaller waves and the relatively underdeveloped industry - also make Israeli surfing a little-known sport locally and in the rest of the world.However Vaknin, 28, has turned these demanding conditions into international surfing gold. His fast-paced, maneuver-packed style and his most recent victories at the 2005, 2006 and 2007 Israel Surfing Association Open Championship leaves no doubt that he has made the most of the Israeli coastline."When I tour in other countries, people ask me why I surf so fast, and I have to explain that we have smaller waves and we need to surf fast to get as many maneuvers in as possible," he says.Vaknin has a fast, powerful technique, and excels at freestyle surfing.

His big aerials and turns have been captured on film for sponsors such as Red Bull and Creative, and a 15-year relationship with Billabong will see him sent to surf Jay Bay, Cape Town, in May.Taught by his brother Moti to surf when he was six years old, Vaknin has been competing since he was 11, when he won the 1991 Junior Israel Surfing Association Championship. His family supported his career move, but had their concerns."You're not earning a lot of money, and my parents kept telling me to go to university and become a lawyer," he quips."I was never a good student," he laughs. "To tell you the truth, surfing was my focus; I didn't have a lot of time to study and the result wasn't very good."Vaknin caught the surfing bug, and competed throughout high school and during his IDF service.

Crowned 1995 ISA Opens Champion, he surfed with the Israeli team at the World Qualifying Series throughout Europe and even in the US. He competed in the 1998 WQS Championships in California, placing 16th out of more than 400 competitors.And then, at 22, life took an unexpected turn. READ ON - MUCH MORE - JPOST.COM

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