In 2022, SUP racer Esperanza Barreras won, among other achievements, the Long Distance European Championships title in Denmark, the Long Distance ICF World title in Poland, two silver medals in Long Distance and Technical Race at the ISA Worlds in Puerto Rico, two APP World Tour events as well as the Euro Tour title. With her eyes set on equally ambitious goals in 2023, the Starboard Dream Team rider from Fuerteventura is as motivated as ever since, and long gone is the day when she burst on the SUP Race scene 4 years ago, surprising everyone with two ISA world titles in El Salvador in 2019. It was high time we caught up with “Espe” during her winter training at home in Fuerte, getting ready for the long season ahead… it turns out she is not alone in this and that is perhaps her key to success.
Photo by Georgia Schofield
Hola Espe! Let’s start with your 2022 season? What are your best memories from last year?
Hola Mathieu. My best memories are linked to the feeling of having given everything that I had. And this happened in Poland at the 2022 ICF SUP World Championships in Gdynia, during the 18k Long Distance course. 3 km of strong side/upwind (3 times) trying to read the sea and keep my mind strong until the end. My face crossing the line in first position after that huge effort with Fiona waiting for me on the beach says everything.
Besides competing, my favorite memories from 2022 are any session of good waves here in Fuerteventura shared with friends, and last year was a special one in Punta Elena… a bit risky but happy ending!
2022 Long Distance World Champion in Gdynia, Poland
What are the not-so-good ones?
For me, the worst memories are when I have an illness or an injury that forces me to stop because I love what I do and I love doing it every day. Not being able to go out to sea paddling, surfing or going for a run is something that
really makes me feel bad. In regards to results, I don’t process them as bad memories. It’s the other way around actually, I don’t believe in good or bad luck… I take note of my mistakes to work on and accept the other riders did fewer mistakes than me. This is something I love to do after a race, analyze what went on and take notes.
Espe Barreras, winner of the 2022 Paris SUP Open (APP World Tour), her 13th win of the season!
What’s your Starboard quiver right now?
I’m really happy to be able to ride boards on which I feel absolutely comfortable. The All Star boards are my magical boards but I also love riding my Ace on the perfect Canarian downwinders, and the new 2023 Starboard Sprint is flying on my flatwater sessions. Coming from a sailing background, I know these shapes are borrowed from the sailing world, and therefore for me it is awesome.
What is your absolute favorite board though and why?
The Starboard Allstar is my favorite board. Probably, because it is perfect for the conditions we have in Fuerteventura and therefore it is the one I ride the most.
For good beach racing, I have my (old school) 2017 14 x 23, which I used in the 2019 ISA WORLDS in El Salvador. But the new 2023 Allstar is a rocket and already sitting among my favorite boards.
What objectives do you have for 2023?
Enjoying what I do every single day is my main objective as well as staying among the fastest SUP Racers.
In terms of results, ISA and ICF medals will be my main objectives this year. I’m ambitious I know, but top goals are what keep me motivated.
How are you scheduling your months ahead in terms of training?
This season, races start really early in April. So, from January we start training with the ORtraining group to be prepared. I will start with some Eurotour events, then the Spanish National Championships and ICF and ISA Worlds at the end of year. The season ahead looks like a long one and I’m super motivated for it.
Espe celebrates her win at EUROSUP 2022 in Hvide Sande, Denmark
Who do you train with in Fuerte, what time of the week and the day do you usually train and what are you usual training spots?
I daily train with my partner in this, Oscar Ruiz and other ORtraining strong athletes like Ben Moreham and Izaskun Martin, we are lucky to train as a group.
Every so often, our riders get together with Oscar Ruiz to assess our performance and move on to new goals. And of course, we make time for some fun Downwind or surfing sessions that we all love. Training
as a group is the key.
Fuerte is a good place for winter training with warm conditions, and every year many top athletes spend some time here and we share sessions together. I remember last year we meet for a cool Downwind a group of 12 people with top riders as Teulade Bros, Jaran Rodriguez, Antonio Morillo, Petronella, Ricardo, Susanne Lier, Anna Thrisky Daan Meily, Belar… our Eurotour local race!
I love go to the water early in the morning and late evening when we double sessions. Normally I train 5 days per week, weekends are more for fun.
In Corralejo Bay we have since ¨flatwater¨ to looooong waves for surfing passing by openwater conditions. Of course, when there are waves any training gives way to a surf session. When surf is on, training can wait!
Spain has been busting with new talents these past two years. According to you what is Spain’s recipe for success with the young SUP racers?
Spanish Juniors are on top, and it is a sign that all the clubs are working really well on that. Spanish National races have about 300 athletes signed on. And most of them are under 18 y/o. Is not easy to keep youth in a sport, and less in the ocean. But if you know how to keep them motivated, you can have a huge group.
The fact of having races almost every weekend is very motivating for young people, and in Spain you can pretty much compete every weekend.
Nowadays, Daniel Parrés is a reference on this. They are also doing very well in Galicia with Guillermo Goyanes with the young guys from SUP Mera.
Is there one thing in SUP racing that you haven’t done yet and dream to do?
Yes. Molokai to Oahu run & Red Bull Heavy Waters.
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