At the end of the 2nd season of the SUP Alps Trophy under the new leadership of Gerd Weisner, we wanted to hear how the season went and what plans Gerd has for 2023.
Hello Gerd, thank you very much for taking the time for the Stand Up Magazine. It is now the 2nd year that you are running the SUP Alps Trophy.
For those of who are newer to the scene, please tell us again what motivated you to take over the tour from the founder Alois Mühlegger 2 years ago.
I came from Action Sports and got to know Endurance Sports and SUP RACING is a prime example of the drugs the body releases as a reward for Endurance Sports, a real healthy drug that fascinates me.
The SUP Alps Trophy is one of the few race series in Europe that delivers quality. There was no doupt for me lead the tour of Alois into the next decade.
But let’s now look back at the 2022 season. Can you draw a conclusion for us and give us an outlook for 2023?
Gerd Weisner and Rudy van Haven
After the 2 difficult “Corona years” we had more than 350 participants in the Longdistance Pro and Funclass 2022 and we are happy that we represent the top of SUP RACING in the German-speaking area in terms of quantity and quality.
We are especially pleased that we have now attracted top athletes from CZ, CRO, SLO, HUN, ITA to the Trophy. We are running 6 events where the top 3 results are brought in. This makes the ranking very honest and the best are on the podium at the end.
In terms of spectators and band width we had exemplary at the season opening ” The Lake Rocks” in Villach 20 local Big Sup teams introduced to racing and from the dentists, to the judges, the diaconia, the sports clubs additionally 160+ participants who have tasted in and we plan here very much more 2023.
What did you take from your first year into the second?
We want to set up real SUP festivals. My team Rudy van Haven, Normen Weber, Hermann Husslein, Volker Ebermayr are so important. Without them, none of this would be at this level. Together we have a lot of expertise and can implement competitions at a high level. Add to that our experienced organizers and great venues and that’s our foundation. Next season we will offer an additional format and make the entry into SUPRACING more attractive for newcomers.
For the season opening “The Lake Rocks” at Faaker See / Villach 18.05-21.05.2023 we will offer 4 days of Racing & SUP Festival. On Thursday evening the new format will take place an Aircross Race (Boardercross) on up to 14’ISUP in an ascending and descending system. With this, all participants will race the same number of heats and no one will be eliminated. Up to 16 paddlers go at the same time on the narrow buoy course and everything is allowed only no paddle against paddler and board but board contact is allowed.
On Friday we will introduce up to 40 local Big Sup teams and 20 school groups, to 1,000 paddlers to SUPRACING.
Saturday will be the highlight – the Longdistance Pro and the Funrace. Sunday we organize the Tech Race at the lido with hundreds of spectators. I believe that in 2023 we can welcome international top paddlers at the season opening and celebrate together with all participants and spectators Abendas at the lido.
When I look at the results of 2022 and also in general the SUP Alps Trophy is 90% occupied by Germans and Austrians. But the Alps go through Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and France.
Yes you are right Mike, Europe is big and we have participants from GER, AUT, CZE, SLO, CRO, ITA, THA, POL, HUN but e.g. none from FRA and ESP. Germany and Austria are central and attractive for many nations.
The “Tour de France” attracts many nations and takes place only in France.
Our Trophy takes place in Germany and Austria. However, we can imagine Slovenia, Italy… as venues in the future.
The most important thing is that our participants can bring 3 results from 6 events to represent a real, comparable ranking. The top 3 results count, whereby the season finale is decisive in the event of a tie.
How difficult is it to find venues in Italy, Switzerland and France? Are there ambitions to expand the tour to these countries?
Switzerland has its own Sup Suisse Tour although top racers like Peter Mühlhauser and Adrian Cahenzli or Guido Donzé have competed in our tour.
My gut feeling is that there will be a lot of additional paddlers from Hungary, Slovenia and Italy in 2023. The season opener at “The Lake Rocks” at the Faaker See will be equipped with a solid prize money for the Longdistance Pro. This will attract the Euro Elite.
Each of our races should attract 150-300+ supracers. We are open to interested venues / tourist regions in the Alpine region. But it is not easy to coordinate this with the national organizers.
I always see the Alps Trophy a little bit as a counterpart to the EURO TOUR but only in the alpine region. How could we manage to attract more EURO internationals to the tour? There are many strong and well-known paddlers in Europe. How do we bring them to the Alps?
Mike, let us surprise you with the season opener of the SUP Alps Trophy with really top prize money. This will attract the elite.
Make our mouths a little watery so that we can already look forward to 2023. Rumor has it that Villach on Lake Faak will be the place to be in 2023?
The season opening at Lake Faak will be a MEGA SUP FESTIVAL, 4 days around the Ascension Day holiday with races for beginners and the elite and party, live music . The event area is directly at the lake a large campsite with mobile homes, gastronomy…and an insane mountain scenery and turquoise water. As mentioned above, the Air Cross is new. After that we have the next event at Whitsun at the Wolfgangsee “Legendofox” and then 14 days later the SUPALOT at the Altmühlsee.
That sounds like a real festival with a great supporting program. I just had a look at our interview from March 2021. When it came to your visions for the future, that’s what you said back then:
“At the Trophy events we also have testing opportunities and a nice general program and provide more than a race – festivals of SUP sport. The Legend of Ox at the Wolfgangsee is already a festival of SUP sports.”
Is the concept of SUP Festivals a guarantee of success?
That’s right. It is a gathering of SUP RACERS, SUP RACE LOVER, their families, moderation and photos at top level and testing opportunity of boards, paddles of our sponsors Fanatic, Starboard, JP, Light, Braca and Sic and 2023 possibly other brands. The most important thing is the sport, but apart from that at the events we offer a gathering of the paddling scene, music & food and a great time. All visitors and participants are the “GOOD TIMES CREW.” Paddlers are friendly, humble you know it only comes out what you put in and really fit at any age. And in a healthy body is a healthy mind. I know few sports that are so gracious to deliver high performance without stress on joints. SUP RACING keeps you young.
Finally, a question that probably reaches far into the future: are you watching the foil trend? Have you seen that there are people who can paddle themselves into “foil flight mode” with a SUP foil board in shallow water using a paddle.
Do you talk to people around you about this? Do you know people who are interested in learning it?
We’ve been following that, of course, and I think in cconnection with wing and waves it makes sense, but it’s a very different sport.
If there are enough people who can do this, could you imagine integrating SUP Foil Flatwatersprints? That would be something for the spectators.
Ich glaube an reines Pump Foiling im flachen Wasser noch nicht.
Ich weiß momentan ist das wahrscheinlich eher eine rhetorische Frage, ich will aber in ein paar Jahren zurückschauen und sehen was passiert ist.
I may be wrong and am currently skeptical.
Finally, very briefly into the near future: can you already share the complete 2023 tour schedule with us?
- 18.05-21.05.2023 „THE LAKE ROCKS“ Faaker See / Villach
- 27.05-28.05. 2023 „LEGENDOFOX“ Wolfgangsee / St. Gilgen
- 10.-11.06.2023 „SUPALOT“ Altmühlsee / Gunzenhausen
+ 3 weitere Events tba
Thank you for everything and a successful 2023 season. Stand Up Magazin is always happy to assist the tour as a press partner.