On September 21 the Winds of Change Cyprus Team, under the leadership of Olympian and IOC Young Leader, Sophia Papamichalopoulos, made history by achieving the first circumnavigation of the island of Cyprus within its territorial waters in nearly 50 years.
The ‘Winds of Change’ project, initiated with a vision to build peace, connection and transformation through sport, achieved a remarkable milestone as it brought together young Greek and Turkish Cypriots in a bi-communal sailing endeavour to circumnavigate the divided island of Cyprus. Following an extensive planning period of over two years, skippers, and Olympian siblings Sophia Papamichalopoulos Oly and Christopher Papamichalopoulos together with captain Nigel Davies, led a bi-communal crew on a journey along 327 nautical miles around the island, arriving back in Larnaca on the International Day of Peace.
Karpaz Gate Marina proudly announced its unwavering support for the historic ‘Winds of Change’ sailing project, which has now successfully concluded its mission to foster unity and promote yachting tourism across the island of Cyprus.
Karpaz Gate Marina recognised the opportunity to enhance yacht tourism in the region and endorsed the Winds of Change mission. This endorsement reaffirms the marina’s commitment to fostering peacebuilding efforts and solidifies its position as a driving force in the future growth of yachting and travel tourism for the entire island.
As an Official Supporter of the ‘Winds of Change’ project, Karpaz Gate Marina played a vital role by hosting Sophia, the selected sailors, and coaches for a significant portion of their training schedule in August. The marina provided access to its marine and leisure facilities, including accommodation, restaurants, conference rooms and a gym.
Reflecting on this, Sophia Papamichalopoulos stated: “We felt warmly welcomed by the entire team at Karpaz Gate Marina and the local sailing community there. With the support of local skippers who provided their boats for the training, we managed to complete a successful course and explore the beautiful Karpaz Peninsula by sea. We were grateful to use the high-level facilities at Karpaz Gate Marina to conduct our intense training course which also included other sport activities such as open water swimming, running, and indoor training. I am so grateful for Liza’s support and the fact that she believed in me and supported this project from a very early stage, and even before we were certain that we could make it happen.”
Liza Singer, Managing Director at Karpaz Gate Marina, expressed her enthusiasm for the project, saying, “When I heard about Sophia’s ambitious idea for the Winds of Change project, I had no hesitation in offering support. There is a synergy with the Karpaz Gate Marina development and our vision to lead the development of the region, a lesser-known area of the East Mediterranean, in the yachting community and in the yachting tourism sector. We have enjoyed hosting and getting to know the members of this inspirational team and would gladly welcome them back for any future events.”
In the ultimate challenge that unfolded in September, team members lived together on the boat, honing their communication and leadership skills as they endeavoured to become the first Cypriot team to circumnavigate the island.
Reflecting on the project’s profound impact, Sophia Papamichalopoulos stated: “For some of our participants it was the first time crossing a checkpoint to the north. Completing our sailing training course with the support of both sailing institutions on the northern and southern coasts of the island, demonstrates the power of sport to foster relationships and collaboration between the people and to create a neutral ground for people to share their passion for sailing. Our project contributes to peace and conflict prevention by bringing the two divided communities in Cyprus together, inspiring more bi-communal activities on the island, and promoting the use of sport in the peace-building process.”
A dedicated film crew documented the journey, capturing pivotal moments for an upcoming documentary production. This documentary aims to showcase how the power of sports can inspire and promote peace on a global scale. The ‘Winds of Change’ sailing project represents an inspiring chapter in Cyprus’s history, where the spirit of unity and the allure of yachting tourism have joined forces to leave a lasting legacy of peace and cooperation.