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Kelowna paddler to compete on world stage in Tahiti

Kelowna based paddler Leanne Stanley will be competing in the IVF Va'a World Distance Championships in Tahiti.
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June 21, 2017 - 4:30 PM

KELOWNA - A locally based world champion paddler is heading to Tahiti to compete in the inaugural IVF Va’a World Distance Championships next week.

One of Canada’s top paddlers, Leanne Stanley, 35, has been paddling since 1998 when she started out in a marathon canoe, and has since competed in outrigger canoe, stand up paddle boarding, surfski and dragon boating. However, now Stanley’s bread and butter is the outrigger canoe, which is what she will be competing in next week.

“Outrigger is the passion, there’s something about catching the waves in an outrigger, it’s an amazing feeling,” she says. “Being out on the water is my happy place, it brings me back to that place of calm.”

Although Stanley has competed in the solo race since 2008, this is the first year the distance race of 18 kilometres is included in the competition. Previously it was a sprint of 500 metres.

“I’m definitely excited, I feel like I’m in the best racing shape that I’ve been in a long time,” she says. “I’m excited to see how I stand in the long distance game.”

Stanley has been dedicating any of her spare time to training since qualifying ahead of roughly 15 people in a timed trial last August. The last couple months Stanley has been training on the water seven to 10 times per week.

She will be competing in the V1 and V6 categories - the solo distance race and then a 27 kilometre race with a team of six women representing Canada. With the members of the six women crew living all over B.C. it has been difficult to practice together, says Stanley.

According to the elite paddler, technique will be the main focus for the team.

“We have to be able to work together and communicate within the boat,” she says. “You can work really hard and not go very fast, if I’m going to work hard I want to get the most speed.”

Additionally, Stanley will be competing Friday, June 23, in the Te Aito, a 15 kilometre warm-up race.

“It’s the first chance to see how I do and give me a good idea of where I stand and what I have to work on,” she says. “I know I can battle with these girls, it’s just that they have a lot more experience in that type of boat than I do.”

Other than competing in the heat and on the open ocean, a big difference will be having a rudderless boat. Instead of steering with foot pedals, Stanley will have to steer with her paddle.

The fact that Stanley was diagnosed in 2006 with type one diabetes is another added challenge. She says although the condition takes up every second of every day, it gives her an advantage.

"I am so in-tuned with what’s on with my body... that’s integral for being an athlete.”

Stanley says the support she has received from the Kelowna Paddle Centre and the community has been fantastic.

"It's really motivating to know that you have people back home cheering you on," she says. "This is just the beginning of a lot more people from Kelowna hopefully competeing on the world stage - there's just so much talent here."

If you want to watch and cheer on Stanley, you can watch a live stream of the races.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Jenna Hickman or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2017
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