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Last weekend, the Lebanese Surfing Federation, in collaboration with the House of Creed, organized the first official Lebanese Surfing Championship on the beach of the Jiyeh Marina complex.

This Saturday and Sunday, on the beach of Jiyeh, the summer was looking very promising. The season got off to a rhythmic start with the sound of waves and surfboards. With a series of curves, the surf competition marked the start of a summer sports festival.

An Electric Crowd

A surprising amount of excitement reigned under the sun on the beaches of Jiyeh, where crowds massed around the surfers for the first competition in Lebanon since 2016. Locals, tourists and foreign participants mingled in a festive atmosphere at the Jiyeh Marina Resort, where green grass, Hawaiian music and refreshing drinks accompanied the surfers as they qualified.
Speaking of qualifications, these depended entirely on the waves, evaluated according to a simple scoring system ranging from 0.5 to 10 points depending on the quality, difficulty and technicality of the maneuvers performed. Divided into several categories, surfers distinguished themselves according to certain criteria: men’s and women’s longboard, men’s and women’s shortboard, and men’s and women’s shortboard and longboard for under-18s. This diversity of categories is a testament to the massive participation of the competitors.

Qualifying Sessions

When the participants set off for their qualifying sessions, the excitement was palpable. However, by Saturday morning, it was clear that the weather conditions were not optimal for surfing. Despite the sun shining above and the crowds that had gathered on the beach, the waves lacked power and consistency, making surf sessions difficult for the competitors.
The surfers, eager to do their best in this long-awaited competition, braved the waves with determination. Unfortunately, conditions failed to live up to expectations, and participants were forced to curtail their sessions mid-afternoon. This difficult decision was taken by the competition judges, conscious of the importance of surfer safety and the fairness of the competition.
Faced with this situation, the organizers took the decision to reschedule part of the qualifiers for the following morning, hoping for more favorable conditions. The surfers accepted this decision with understanding that safety and fairness were paramount in any sporting competition. On Sunday morning, as dawn broke over Jiyeh, the surfers once again gathered on the beach, ready to take up the challenge. The weather conditions looked better, with more regular and powerful waves. The participants seized this opportunity with enthusiasm, determined to give their best in their qualifications.
Sunday morning’s qualifying sessions went off without a hitch, offering surfers a chance to show their skills in more favorable conditions, allowing the under-18s and ladies to complete their qualifications as well as their entire competitions. Despite the difficulties encountered the day before, the atmosphere was charged with energy and determination as the surfers vied for their place in the next phases of the competition.
Ultimately, the experience demonstrated the resilience and flexibility of the surfers in the face of unforeseen challenges. Although the weather conditions posed obstacles, the participants showed their adaptability and continued to give their best. This surfing competition in Jiyeh will be remembered not only for the surfers’ performances, but also for their ability to overcome difficulties with courage and determination.

The Show Begins

In the men’s quarter-finals early on Sunday afternoon, the participants took to the waves of Jiyeh for 5 rounds of several heats. With competitors such as Marc Hamilton (American surfer), Chris Dirany, Ali Assem, Eli El Hajj, Sajed El Hajj, Alfred Bader and many others, the competition promised to be tough, as the level was particularly high. Between inside and outside wave entries, cross-steppings and curves, the semi-finals promised an incredible show, and so it proved, with 4 surfers battling it out right to the end.

The Wonder Child

Chris Dirany, nicknamed The Wonder Child, captivated the crowd who came to see him, despite strong competition from other foreign candidates. In the end, it was the local talents who made it through to the final: Elie El Hajj, Chris Dirany, Ali Assem and Alfred Bader went head-to-head in a 20-minute round at the end of the day. Alfred Bader, particularly cunning for a left-hander, skilfully exploited the waves to maximize his points, but The Wonder Child was unimpressed, demonstrating his undeniable talent. The competition was intense right to the end, with those last 20 minutes being truly breathtaking.
Chris Dirany was undoubtedly the most anticipated person of the day, representing a young Lebanese talent that lived up to expectations in a sport that is often underestimated and little appreciated in Lebanon… a regrettable situation. This competition enabled Lebanon to highlight the hidden talents we possess in a country bordered by the Mediterranean, where sports play a vital role in our society.

Results and Reactions

ShortBoard U 18 F: Layala Elamine

ShortBoard U 18 H: Sajed El Hajj – “Very happy to be here and very happy to have lifted this title, it’s a chance for us to showcase our sport.”

ShortBoard W: Ranya Halabe – Ranya was also a judge at this competition, a fascinating character and build full of smiles.

Long Board W: Caroline Raphaëlle – “I love surfing, I started in 2013 and it’s like a drug, I love the feeling it gives me, I’m an ocean woman and I encourage several young generations of young women to take up the sport. The ocean has many advantages and maritime sports need to be brought to the fore.”

LongBoard M : Chris Dirany ” The wonder Child ” – Chris is a young Lebanese athlete, smiling and very promising, Chris’ raw talent allows him to have a step above the others.

ShortBoard M: Alfred Bader – Alfred showed his intelligence in this final by exploiting his talent on the left-hand waves and taking care of his entries too, he’s closely followed by Chris.

Other Reactions

Sabine Jabour: “It’s really incredible to have a surfing competition in Lebanon, even if it’s a male-dominated competition, I encourage women to enter, I’m also very proud of myself for being here and it’s an honor to represent us.”

Ali Assem: “I was nervous at first, but it’s fun, we’re not jealous of each other, on the contrary, we’re having fun despite the fact that surfing isn’t very well known or appreciated in Lebanon, but we’ve done our job by attracting the crowds. A lot of young people ask us where they can take lessons, it’s a great step for the sport, it’s really a great opportunity to be here.”

Mohamed El Hajj: “We had a great time today, it was incredible, I recently injured myself playing soccer, but I made it through to the quarter-finals and I’m proud of that, because it really took the edge off, because you forget about the pain and it’s the sea, you’re connected to nature.”

Bernard Al Khoury: “It’s a lot of fun to be here and see so many faces, foreign or friendly, to see the crowd is incredible, the organization is incredible, it’s really difficult to know what’s the right day to surf so we’re very proud and we belong to the sea and everyone is happy to be here so it’s going to be a great weekend.”

Surfing has been the highlight of the summer in Lebanon. Between this weekend’s surfing and rally competitions, the next few months promise to be full of emotions and memorable moments. Don’t miss any of the action, it’s all happening on This is Beirut!