Photo: Jeremy Riggs

SUP Women: Lina Augaitis

Lina Augaitis is a name you may have heard but didn't recognize, like a fly buzzing around your head that you didn't notice, even as you tried to wave it away. It's not bound to stay that way for long.

Augaitis, a 33-year-old Canadian from Vancouver, British Columbia, has been making a name for herself with regional wins like the first Canadian National SUP Championships before really taking her act on the road this summer. She took second in the elite class at Ta-hoe Nalu, a win at the Battle of the Bay in San Francisco, was the first Canadian woman to complete Molokai 2 Oahu and came in third in the distance race at the Battle of the Paddle, all while working as a schoolteacher. She's decided to take the year off and see how far she can push herself in standup.—Will Taylor

You were an adventure racer before. How'd you make the transition to SUP?
In most new sports that I try I find some way to race or compete. I was a gymnast for 12 years at a competitive level and in college I wrestled, played Frisbee, pole-vaulted and ran. I got into marathons and triathlons, which led to adventure races. In 2010 I found a race in interior BC, the Kalamalka Classic. I did super well and it was really, really fun.

Tell me about training for M20.
I really like long, painful experiences so I decided I wanted to do Molokai but I'd never really done downwinders. We're on the ocean here but it's flat.

I went to Hawaii in March on my spring break as a teacher. Jeremy (Riggs) taught me the basics of surfing and we did a couple of downwinders. It doesn't matter how fit I am, I think for I just need time in waves. I spent two-and-a-half weeks there, and did Maui to Molokai, Maliko and M2O. Jeremy was a huge, huge help. I was happy to complete (M20) in a decent time.

Photo: Jeremy Riggs

You had a good run in the fall, too.
My husband was switching jobs and had three months off. We road tripped to Tahoe and Battle of the Bay with mountain biking between. I found great success in August and September. At that point, it was very much a hobby but now I'm taking a year off to train and see what I can do with standup paddling.

So what does your training schedule look like?
This year is going to be really different but during the winter I do Crossfit two or three times a week. I backcountry ski tour, bike commute everywhere and also trail run. This past summer I raced every weekend from June 29 to BOP (September 28, 29). I've never had a structured schedule but I really love the outdoors. When it's nice it's hard for me to not go outside.

Where are we going to see you this year?
I'd like to do most of the World Series races and the Carolina Cup, Lost Mills, BOP and maybe the Eleven Cities SUP Tour.

Photo: Andrew Dye

Tell me about your expeditions.
The first big one I did was in 2011. I wanted to race the Yukon River Quest but they said I couldn't do it on an SUP. My husband and I did the course self-supported over five days stopping to enjoy boat graveyards and ghost towns.

I’ve done a (channel) crossing in Thailand. Also, my family's from Ontario and I wanted to do a canoe circuit (on a SUP). My husband and I did a six-day canoe route with a bunch of portages. I want to do one expedition a year.

What's your local paddling crew like?
Through the summer we do these Tuesday night races every week and Thursday night every other week. It's really fun and good training. Usually I'm racing with the guys on 14-foot boards. More often than not I paddle alone, though.

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