Barbara Leites falls in love with the Va’ a 4 years ago during a trial class. Two years later, she won her first gold medal and devoted herself entirely to Va’ a. This year, she will represent California in Master-V1 at the 18th edition of the IVF Va’a World Sprint Championships.
Is it your first Va’a World Sprint Championships ?
No, my first Sprints Experience was in Australia 2016 where I won the Gold Medal in my third ever race on the V1.
Since when do you practice va’a and why did you choose this sport ?
I took a Rec class from my local club in the fall of 2014 after I retired from teaching and my kids finished college. I was ‘hooked’ after the first class. I’m a water person and felt I had finally found my water activity since moving to the California’s Coast. I’ve lived 2 blocks from the ocean since 1996. I immediately joined the club and practiced primarily in the V6. After I bought an OC1, I found I really love the small boats. Until I actually decided to try to qualify for the 2016 Sprints, I never even knew the V1 existed
Will your first stay in French Polynesia be part of a va’a competition ? What experiences do you hope to gain ?
Yes, this will be my first visit. I hope to paddle well of course, but I hope to learn about the culture and meet the people as well as other paddlers. I hope to understand how these competitions are organized and think tremendous planning takes place we often do not see or realize as a competitor
How do you get prepared for this event and since when ?
I never actually seem to stop practicing on the water or working out in the gym. The intensity will increase as the event nears.
In your opinion, what are the essential factors to progress in va’a ?
Love the sport, respect the Va’a, never stop learning, take critiques seriously with an open mind, have tenacity to practice and improve skills. 100% Commitment
In what state of mind do you approach these championships and what are your expectations ? Goals ?
I’m excited and nervous about the competition. My main objective is to do the best I can.