A Tunisian sailor has crossed the Mediterranean Sea in record-time, traversing the 150 kilometers of Mediterranean between Haouaria, near Hammamet and the coast of Sicily in less than 18 hours.
Youssef Akrout, a 26-year old from Bizerte, set sail on his laser catboat Wednesday morning with the goal of breaking the world record, a dream he told Tunisia Live he has been pursuing for over four years.
“I wanted to see what was behind the horizon,” Akrout said, adding that he wanted to “honor the name of Tunisia by embarking on such a trip.”
After studying physiology in university, Akrout set out for a career in professional sailing. Now a two-time Olympian, Akrout represented Tunisia in the 2012 Olympic Games in London in the Men’s Laser Class and the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro in the same event. Akrout has also competed in the African and Pan-Arab games, where he has been awarded numerous gold medals in sailing events.
His latest venture across the Mediterranean was planned in partnership with the French Press Agency, an international news agency headquartered in Paris and “Wallah We Can,” a Tunisian non-profit dedicated to improving the quality of rural schools. A portion of the money raised from Akrout’s project will go towards this NGO, he said.
Akrout’s nearly 18-hour crossing was not without incident. At one point, he explained, winds grew so strong that he was unable to move for more than two hours. Eventually he was able to continue and meet the end of his journey by nightfall.
Speaking with Tunisia Live, Akrout ended with a note of encouragement to Tunisian youth.
“They should be resilient,” he said. “And believe in themselves to make their dream come true.”
Rahma is preparing a master thesis in Anglo-American studies. She is interested in politics and foreign affairs. Since the outbreak of the Tunisian revolution, she volunteered for several Tunisian associations such as ATIDE, Sawty and others. She writes articles about post-revolution Tunisia.