Gerd Weisner is now the new man behind the SUP Alps Trophy. Many already know him as an active SUP racer. We talked with Gerd about the future, his plans and the SUP sport.
Aloha Gerd, thanks for your time.
First of all, I would like to thank you on behalf of Stand Up Magazine and probably the SUP community for saving the SUP Alps Trophy with your team. Is it even allowed to say that? Did you have to save the Trophy or were there other contenders?
Thank you Mike for the kind words. Yes, I think there were also groups among the participants who wanted to continue the Trophy. To keep the level, it needs courage to invest, event and media experience, contacts in the scene and the industry. I had given Alois the sign that if no successor could be found, we could do it. Then it went very quickly and I could plan the Trophy 2021 with the help of Alois, Cornelia, many paddlers and organizers quite uncomplicated. I was especially pleased that the Prime Board sponsors have also agreed promptly and that we can make a professional media appearance with the budgets. Among other things, all events are accompanied by a professional scene photographer. And no surprise Klotzi is on board. Furthermore, we have experienced moderators & race director in the team and can support organizers if necessary.
What are the biggest changes in the tour under your management?
We have not made any changes to the clear structure and the points system. 6 events and the best 3 results count in the annual ranking. New is an additional event.
Grundlsee Trophy . Thus, the Austrian participants can bring with the season finale at Pilsensee easier 3 results.
The scoring system is so sophisticated that a paddler with e.g. 2 wins ends up ahead of the paddler with 3 fourth places. Thus, the SUP Alps Trophy forms the best possible representation of the performance in the annual rankings.
We have simplified the board classes and all disciplines Fun Class (short distance 3-5km) as well as the Pro Class Longdistance (8-13km) can be contested by all participants with free choice of board up to max. 14′ hardboard or ISUP (exception short distance at Legend of Ox (ISUP)). Also the youth can freely choose the material.
At the season finale there will be podiums for the top placements and podiums for age groups . In addition, there will be a podium for the best participants on ISUP.
The events of our Trophy are SUP festivals. Here all SUP race enthusiastic paddlers can participate, watch, test and get tips and tricks on technique at clinics.
The new web portal looks very good, it is noticeable that you see many faces. You can create your own profile and also in general you seem to focus on a lot of content. Tell us a bit more about the “Meet the Paddlers” concept.
The SUP Alps Trophy competitions are open and we invite all participants to get a taste of the SUP racing world. At the same time, the races are usually very well staffed and we have National Champions competing here. Paddlers and all friends of SUP Racing can upload their paddler profile and get to know the participants in advance. We are one big family and that’s what the website is supposed to represent. But behind the concept of “Meet the Paddlers” is more than bios of the participants. We have interviews with athletes in the “Paddler Cast” that we present on the portal. In addition, we post a new interview every Friday on FB. Here you can find out how they found their way to SUP racing, news about training, equipment, strategy but also a little gossip. I had the first 3 interviews with Normen, Weber, Joep van Bakel and Christian Taucher – all champions in their nations. The next guests are Carsten Kurmis, Hermann Husslein, Rudy van Haven…and we will also have a Masters talk round. Until the first events we will keep you entertained. The concept “Meet the Paddlers” also includes clinics at the events. In about 30 minutes kids, beginners and newcomers to the race world get tips on masterial, training and technique…
What are your visions for the future of the Trophy and SUP racing in general?
SUP Racing embraces grassroots and elite sports alike. In the races, beginners compete in the field of top athletes. The more the better, best example is the GlaGla Race in Annecy with 600+ paddlers on the start line. At the Trophy events we also have testing opportunities and a nice general program and provide more than one race – festivals of SUP sport. The Legend of Ox at Wolfgangsee is already a festival of SUP sports.
Wir haben in Deutschland einiges an SUP Rennen eine Deutsche Gesamtwertung scheint aber noch im Hintergrund, kann die SUP ALPS TROPHY hier Abhilfe schaffen?
The Trophy brings together paddlers from many nations. The largest number comes from Germany, Austria. But we also have starters from the Czech Republic, Italy, Slovenia, Switzerland and Benelux. Certainly our year-end ranking gives a good and fair overview of the performance level. A Trophy victory is something special and well on par with a national championship. After all, not only national top athletes compete here, but also champions from neighboring countries. I think the federations should include the races of our Trophy in their overall ranking. Partly this is already happening, when I think of the ASF / Austria. But as far as I know there is no German overall ranking yet. Here is a lot in motion, but before 2022 I expect no solution in Germany.
Political question: The German SUP sport is still fragmented. How do you feel about the organized SUP sport in Germany?
The SUP Alps Trophy is organized by paddlers for paddlers and we are independent.
DWV and DKV are multisport associations and had not focused on SUP so far.
But now that the Olympics are beckoning, things are moving. However, it seems to be difficult in all the committees to bring topics such as regulations, races, team, annual ranking list promptly to a common denominator, if everything is done on a voluntary basis.
The ICF has brought in a big template and this is the direction it will probably go. DWV and DKV cooperate in Germany in the best sense. In Germany we have 1000+ canoe clubs. If they open up more to the SUP sport SUP racing can explode. The possibility to store boards, direct access to the water, organized training and youth work will then become much easier.
A quick word about you and your work, looking at your company’s website you seem to be knee deep in the surf and skate world. How natural was the step to SUP?
In fact, SUP was not a topic with us until 2015. Skateboarding is its own world and far away from water sports with overlaps into the core surf scene. Surf and SUP also did not have much contact – rather friction. We as a distributor for many core surf brands and as a manufacturer of LIGHT SURFBOARDS this was not a question for a long time and although I myself had more and more fun with wave sup, we sat out the first boom phase of SUP. In 2016 I was at a meeting in Sydney and we were presenting collections and testing surfboards. Tom Carroll Mr. Pipeline was there and we had a good time surfing and SUPing. He is a big wave surfer, real Waterman and has been addicted to SUP. Well and then we got LIGHT-SUP off the ground. I went from fitness SUP training for the next surf trip to the race scene and caught fire. We designed raceboards and were the first on the market with hollow raceboards. By now LIGHTBOARDCORP is well established and I have more and more friends from the core surf world, Watermen who keep fit on the Race SUP. You wake up and look at the Atlantic – small waves SUP surf and race, wind – downwind, perfect waves with Juice – down on the surfboard.
You distribute a lot of core brands, so it would be obvious that we will see more core brands in SUP sports in the future. How do you see the situation that one day we will still see lifestyle clothing labels that target the SUP enthusiasts?
Surf is very dominant and the Clothing brands will not dilute your marketing. I think SUP brands bring products that reach into the lifestyle..
You are also very active in SUP racing yourself. Tell us briefly how you got into the sport and what fascinates you about SUP racing?
In 2017 I had my first SUP race, but have always paddled a lot to keep fit for the next surf trip. My first race was after a boat trip 2 weeks through the Indian Ocean and I thought there I’m quite good. There was something on the ears and that has awakened my sporting ambition. 4 months later I was fit and won my first race and joined the SKG Hanau canoe club. Here I can train with Peter Weidert and Hermann Husslein, among others. In 2018 I then became German Masters B champion in the long distance and I managed to do that again in 2020. In 2019 and 2020 I competed in the SUP Alps Trophy and came 3rd in the Trophy in both cases. However, also because a few of the top guys did not bring in 3 results. I always had quite good placements so mostly 4-7th in the races. But my favorite result is a TOP TEN placement at the Eurotour Pilsensee 2019 . Normen, Ole and Peter were the only Germans ahead of me and the rest were all young internationals. I love racing and competition !
Now that you are the tour boss or owner. Will you still find time to join in yourself?
Of course – nothing changes. We are the organizer of the Trophy and maintain and market the Trophy, select the best organizers and events. On the race weekends, my job is done and I can look forward to racing. We have a team of contributing photographers, race director, presenters who are available to the organizers on request.
If so, are there any conflicts of interest in participating in the tour that you organize yourself?
Sportsmanship and fairness are at the top of the list. Nothing is more honest than racing against the clock. We don’t have any judging. That would be something else.
SUP Racing – you only get out what you put in.
Thank you very much for your comments, it is an honor for me to continue to support the SUP Alps Trophy with the Stand Up Magazine.
MY thanks goes to you Mike ! YOU do a good job and also look behind the scenes.