Esperanza Barreras was brought up with the saltpetre of the Galician sea. Born in Vigo she’s been living in Fuerteventura since 2013. In her sea she’s found ideal conditions to practise paddle surf, a sport that has allowed her to become the first two-time Spain World champion in Sand Up Paddle. In the World championship of El Salvador, the instructor of Escuela Naútica of Corralejo conquered two golden medals, one in long distance and the other one in technique race.
By Eloy Vera
How did you get to the world of water sports?
The sea culture ran in my family. My grand-father and father used to build ships. So, we were always linked to the sea. I’ve been sailing since I was a child. We’ve always been encouraged to practise any sports: tennis, bike, sail, surf… mainly those ones related to the sea. I’ve been a yachtswoman and a sail competitor for many years. I’ve also belonged to the sail team and represented Spain as a yachtswoman. What I’d never done was to represent Spain in a different sport.
How did you get to Stand Up Paddle?
Before arriving in Fuerteventura It’d never drawn my attention much. When I started to work in Club Onexe, so well-known for that sport, we found that some weeks there weren’t any waves. One day they gave me a paddle and and board and I went to try them, always accompanied by Nayra Martínez, and I liked it. Then, Ibana Ruano took me to Majanicho to catch waves and I got totally hooked on it. That was some three years ago.
How was your start in the world of competition in this discipline?
Soon after starting off, the team went to the championship of Gran Canaria, and Nayra enroled me to go with them. The truth is I didn’t feel very confident, but she told me “come with us”. That was my first race. I was attending races for one and a half years, but just for the sake of accompanying them. I’ve always been competitive and I’ve always liked giving my best, but without much ambition nor setting targets. My target was just to enjoy and acompany them.
Then, other competitions came…
I took part in several Spain championships during those two years, but I always got the third position. The truth is I wasn’t really training for it. After the third Spain championship I thought: I want to be at the top as well. I’ve always been an athlete and I’ve always liked giving my best. In January, when Óscar Ruiz came to work with us to the high performance centre, we started working together. From then onwards there was a change in all the training. You feel motivated and feel like training more and setting higher targets.
How did you face the Stand Paddle (SUP) and Paddle board world championship celebrated in November in the beach of El Sunzal (El Salvador)?
When Óscar came, my main target was to join the national team because it was something I’d never achieved. In September we took part in the Spain Championship of long distance technique race on the beach and we won it in Suances, in Cantabria. Two weeks later we went to participate in the long distance Spain Championship, in Alicante, and we won it too. The goal was accomplished, I joined the national team. We managed to make a team of three competitors together with Susak Molinero and Laura Quetglas. Going to El Salvador was already a prize by itself. The Spain championship was in September and then we had one month to prepare for the world championship. It meant giving our best, three sessions a day, and the truth is we worked really hard. We got to El Salvador with the idea of getting a top five.
What has becoming a world champion meant to you?
It was a dream I hadn’t contemplated. The first world championship I took part in and two victories in the two competitions I raced. It was a dream I didn’t expect and I still find it hard to believe.
From now onwards, what goals are there ahead?
For 2020 I’d like to take part in a larger number of races in the Euro Tour and start to take part in world circuits in two or three races, although it’ll all depend on the help I find. We’re looking for sponsors because trips and logistics cost a lot.
What role does Fuerteventura play in this victory?
Fuerteventura is an incredible place to train. It has a wonderful weather and the best possible conditions. We have smooth water, wind, waves… Having trained in the wind for the last months has helped me a lot to keep fit and also to work my head in a different way. The place is spectacular.
Water sports are giving victories and good results to local competitors but, are they getting enough support in the islad?
I’d make a call since in an island surrounded by the sea and where we’ve had incredible results in sports like sail, windsurf, surf…. I think we deserve more support because we lead this island and we promote it, and any help is insufficient. We’d be delighted to get any help.
Has equallity reached women and men in this sport?
When we are in championships, men and women enter and exit at the same point. Many times we get the same time and prizes. There’s a group of female athletes that has succeeded in reaching equality in this sport, which is fair and necessary.
The day you have to leave the board definitely, what would you like to do?
I think I’ll leave one board to get on another one. I’ve always been connected to the sea and I love the feeling of being on it. So, I don’t think this will ever happen, I’ll always be enjoying the sea.