Lina Augaitis Talks BOP and World Titles
Canadian racer Lina Augaitis has been a dominant force in the SUP racing world this year. She’s been victorious at some of SUP’s most competitive events, including Puerto Rico’s Paddle Royale, the Orange Bowl, the ISA World Championships, and Lost Mills, as well as on the Standup World Series, where she won in Abu Dhabi and Germany.
With the recent Battle of the Paddle and Standup World Series Finals held within a week of each other, you’d think Augaitis might lose some steam competing in high profile events back to back. But, it turns out, the Canadian excels when the pressure to compete is on. So, after competing in BOP and taking the Distance Title, the exhausted Augaitis caught a plane to Oahu and competed in the Standup World Series Finals, whereafter she was named 2014 Standup World Series Champion. We caught up with Augaitis to find out what it’s like to be the first Canadian to take away a BOP title and World Series Title, all in a single week. —SC
How does it feel to take the Battle of the Paddle Long Distance Title?
In that one race, I feel like my year has really come together. I actually had greater pressure put on myself for the Distance race over the Elite race, as it is the kind of race that I have excelled in for the last year. I am beyond excited to have won the distance race especially with such a terrible start through the waves. Winning a BOP race is a dream come true for me, as it is considered one of—if not the biggest—race weekend in the world of SUP. So [I'm] still riding a high on cloud nine.
You're the first Canadian to take a title at BOP. What does that mean to you?
I am so proud to be Canadian. Being the first Canadian to take a BOP title is huge for me and for Canada. We have such talented athletes and I am really excited to put Canada on the map in the SUP world. We are a smaller SUP community, but a proud and supportive one and I love it. I hope this win can show people that SUP is firing around the world and that it takes hard work, a supportive community, determination, and the ability to dream big, and success can be there.
How did you feel going into BOP’s Distance race after the way the Elite race played out?
I was riding a huge high from my performance in the Elite course race. I definitely went into a different place out there and pulled off something really exciting for me. There were some penalties and such, and it caused a stir and definitely hit me as well. By the morning, I had gone through a whirlwind of emotions. Luckily, I am surrounded by amazing people who support, guide, and teach me so many valuable lessons in life, and, with this knowledge, I was able to focus on what needed to be done on the distance race, and it paid off.
What's it like to be called a world champion?
It feels pretty amazing and unbelievable at the same time to be called a world champion. My first experience was after the ISA gold in the distance race. That was just the coolest feeling to hold the Canadian flag while listening to our anthem play because of me. Then, BOP, while it is not called a world championships it certainly feels like one. Now, the World Series Title. Ahhh… It really does feel like a dream and I rather no one pinch me yet as I don’t need to wake up anytime soon.
Being a world champion is something I have dreamed of since I was a 6-year-old competitive gymnast. After numerous close calls in different sports I kind of thought that dream was just going to be a dream for the rest of my life. And here I am now…Amazing! The thing that keeps me going is that feeling that I can inspire and motivate others—that I can teach others what I have learned so they too can find the highest success in their passions and talents, whatever it may be. I have learned to never ever give up until the end because you never know what can happen. I think that’s the motto of my year too.
After your BOP win, and then knowing you were in the running for the World Title, where were you mentally?
BOP took a lot out of me. It was not only a very physical weekend, but so emotional too (in a very good way). But I have never been so drained after a weekend of racing—and I have done a lot of racing this year. I think the combination of the lead up to the BOP, extra training, extra emotions, then the weekend just going so well, I don’t think I slept at all for a couple of days just from pure adrenaline still rushing through me.
To be honest, the thought of racing the following weekend for a world championship title was rather daunting to me. Even as the weekend approached I tried to get in “race mode” but it was hard. I was done. I felt done physically and mentally. Those two days at Turtle Bay would be tough if you’re feeling on top of the world and even tougher when you’re trying to kick yourself into gear because you want the title you have been working for all year. Luckily, I’m competitive and when I hit the water I turn it on. But, off the water, it was a mental struggle the entire weekend. I was tired, but I wanted it.
After Day 1 I thought I lost the title. It wasn’t my day. On Day 2, I was racing just to race, but things were working out for me and in the Finals I felt like I had nothing to lose as I really didn’t think I had the title. I think that kind of saved me. I managed to cross in second and at the same time, Angie (who's my closest competitor for the title) experienced her share of bad luck when her plug ripped out of her board causing her to lose her board. So, it was a bittersweet finish to a long season. I can say now though that I am ready for a little rest and am very glad I pushed through until the very end. It was so worth it and I learned a lot too.
What are you looking to accomplish next?
The next two months are for figuring out my goals for 2015. I surpassed so many of my goals and expectations this year that it kind of threw me off, so I have a lot of reassessing to do. You can very likely expect me racing. How many and where and which ones I’m not sure of yet—let’s keep that one a surprise for now.
I want to thank all the amazing people who believed in me, especially during the times where I struggled in believing in myself. This year has been full of success and growth as an athlete and person, and just a whole lot of fun. Taking the leap of faith to leave my job a year ago, I never imagined I would experience and accomplish as much as I did in a single year.