Massive Turnout and Epic A-List Battles: Lake Rocks Festival Reaches Iconic Status

The 2024 SUP Alps Trophy Lake Rocks Festival, which took place from May 9 to May 13, was a celebration of SUP Racing set against the stunning backdrop of Faaker See, an alpine jewel nestled in southern Austria. This 2.2 square kilometer lake, with its mesmerizing turquoise waters framed by verdant landscapes and snow-capped peaks, served as the perfect venue for what has become in only the space of 3 editions, one of the most iconic, densely populated and stacked events in the world.

Organized by the SUP Alps Trophy and Paddelstadt, a paddle program initiated by the local tourist bureau, the festival aims to promote paddle sports in the region and draw enthusiasts of canoeing, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, and the outdoors to the scenic shores of Lake Faaker See and other local rivers and lakes. Blessed with four days of sunshine, the festival enjoyed ideal weather conditions for participants and spectators alike. From campsites to guest houses, hotels, and bed and breakfasts, the region offers a plethora of accommodations, making it an ideal destination for vacationers and outdoor enthusiasts alike.

On the sport side, the 2024 SUP Alps Trophy Lake Rocks Festival’s concept revolved around four action-packed days of SUP Race competitions, featuring a variety of formats in 3 different locations to cater to all skill levels. Highlights included the Long Distance race and the Technical Race, both contributing to the central European (Germany, Austria and Slovenia) SUP Alps Trophy circuit and acting as stop #2 of the ICF SUP World Ranking series. With a prize pool of 12,000€, including 9,000€ for the top five athletes in the Long Distance race and 3,000€ for the top three athletes in the Technical Race, the competition promised high stakes and fierce competition.

Drawing hundreds of participants from 24 nations, an impressive lineup of more than 40 international athletes, including more than 10 former and current world champions, the festival was guided by seasoned professionals, including Event Sports Manager and SUP Alps Trophy director Gerd Weisner, Race director and master of ceremony Rudy Van Haven, along with sports announcer and radio show host Marco Tscharnig, ensuring a thrilling and unforgettable experience for all participants and spectators alike. Mathieu Astier was handling the commentary of the two multi-cam / drone livestreams put together by young student entrepreneurs Marco and Tiemo.

Day 1 – City iSUP Border Cross

On Day 1 of the 2024 SUP Alps Trophy Lake Rocks Festival, the festivities commenced in vibrant fashion with the City iSUP Border Cross, reminiscent of last year’s exciting kickoff. This thrilling event unfolded on the strong-current Drau river nestled in the heart of Villach, the nearby town, featuring a dynamic 14-foot inflatable SUP competition. Against the backdrop of a 300-meter course punctuated by two buoys, racers embarked on heats of 5 to 8 participants, surging through elimination rounds until reaching the climactic final showdown.

In the men’s division, the stage was dominated by the prowess of a notable athlete, the 2023 ICF sprint bronze medalist Andrey Kraytor. His exceptional performance surged from the starting line, securing him a commanding lead within the first few seconds. With remarkable ease, he clinched victory ahead of world-class competitors, including Damodara Mochniuk, now proudly representing Austria, and Peter Weidert, a distinguished four-time world champion in the +40 and +50 age categories hailing from Germany.

Meanwhile, in the women’s category, Swiss NSP rider Sabine Fischer showcased her skills with finesse, swiftly taking the lead after a mere few strokes. Amidst the competition, emerging talent Sarah Arnold, who dedicated three months to honing her craft this winter in Fuerteventura alongside renowned international racers, displayed remarkable progress since last year’s edition.

Day 2 – Speed Race + Big SUP

On Day 2, the organizing committee unveiled a pioneering racing format known as the Speed Race. This innovative event featured a time-trial course spanning a 200-meter sprint race, characterized by a 180-degree buoy turn at the 100-meter mark. Facilitated by two sets of timing cells positioned at the starting and finishing lines, this format allowed over 150 SUP racers to commence their individual starts at intervals of 5 to 10 seconds. Competitors could meticulously time their performance, making multiple attempts to refine their best time on the course, for a total of more than 600 runs in the space of 3 hours.

This groundbreaking concept garnered immense success and drew the participation of numerous top-tier racers. Notably, Starboard SUPerstar Esperanza Barreras swiftly established the leading time in the women’s category, closely followed by the two-time junior world champion and NSP rider Claudia Postiglione and the 2018 ISA Sprint world champion from South Africa, Tarryn King, who secured the third position after several attempts.

In the men’s division, Andrey Kraytor once again asserted his dominance by setting a formidable benchmark time on a SUNOVA flatwater faast pro 14×21. His performance sparked a suspenseful duel with Cameron Tripney, the 2022 Junior Sprint World champion from South Africa, who briefly surpassed Kraytor’s record before the Bulgarian representative reclaimed the lead, setting a new course record mere minutes later. Additionally, young talent Damodara Mochniuk delivered an impressive performance, securing a podium finish at the prestigious SUP Alps Trophy Lake Rocks Festival once again.

Day 3 – Long Distance / 12 km

On Saturday morning, Day 3 heralded the commencement of the highly anticipated 12KM Long Distance race, a pivotal event in the SUP Alps Trophy and the second stop on the ICF circuit. The race unfolded with meticulous organization, with the men’s division launching five minutes ahead of the women’s.

A staggering 260 SUP Racers, including 180 men and 80 women, eagerly awaited the starting signal. The race unfolded on a meticulously designed 3-lap square-shaped course spanning 4km per lap, akin to approximately 1km per side.

Unlike traditional races featuring field-breaking buoys at the 100 or 200m mark, this race featured the first buoy precisely at the 1km mark compelling competitors to power through a whole initial kilometer on different lines at top speed for several long minutes before regrouping at the first turn.

In the men’s division, the standout performer at the start was VaĂŻc Garioud, the 17-year-old prodigy hailing from New Caledonia, displaying remarkable prowess atop his SUNOVA board. Following a somewhat disappointing showing at the Euro Tour stop #2 in Mondello, Italy, the previous weekend, Vaic was determined to make a statement in his second European outing.

As the race unfolded, Vaic found himself in the lead, closely pursued by a group of 12 riders, including 18-year-old Donato Freens, who had previously encountered Vaic on his path at the 2023 ISA World Championships. Among a front group of 12 contenders were also Michael Booth, whose recent form had been questioned despite his recent 5th triumph at the Carolina Cup, Santino Basaldella, embarking on his inaugural European tour, NSP rider Blue Ewer,  the 2023 +40 Long Distance world champion Joep Van Bakel, the new Light Board Corp recruit Manuel Lauble, the very consistent Paolo Marconi, Andrey Kraytor, Bodie Von Allmen, Ole Schwartz and of course Filippo Mercuriali.

A noteworthy highlight emerged in the form of Santino Basaldella, who approached Gerd Weisner, CEO of the German brand Light Board Corp, to borrow his cutting-edge Paradoxa board. This strategic move paid off handsomely, as Santino surged into the lead during the two initial laps, setting the pace alongside a select group of frontrunners.

As the race progressed into its final lap, tension mounted, and the field experienced a pivotal moment as Michael Booth surged ahead, breaking the pack with only Vaic Garioud and Donato Freens able to stay close. At the end of a 400m sprint, it was the 18-year-old Infinity Speed Freak Donato Freens who summoned an extra gear, crossing the finish line first, clinching an immense victory, the largest in his SUP race young career.

Meanwhile, Starboard Dream Team figurehead Michael Booth secured the second position ahead of Vaic Garioud, with Blue Ewer and Filippo Mercuriali closely trailing behind. Santino Basaldella, garnering admiration for his performance, secured a well-deserved sixth place, leaving a lasting impression on spectators and competitors alike.

In the women’s division, it was Esperanza Barreras, the seasoned multi-time world champion from Starboard, who swiftly asserted her dominance, seizing an early lead within the first 200 meters of the race. With a powerful surge of acceleration, she catapulted herself ahead, establishing a formidable gap that none of her competitors could bridge.

Among the challengers was Tarryn King, the 34-year-old 2018 sprint world champion from Cape Town, embarking on only her second Long Distance race. King exhibited a strong start alongside her teammate from SUNOVA, Susak Molinero, and a cohort of formidable contenders including Infinity racer Juliette Duhaime, Italian junior world champions Cecilia Pampinella and Claudia Postiglione, and three-time 2023 ICF junior medallist Csillag Kocsis, among others.

In the final stretch of the race, it was Juliette Duhaime who demonstrated remarkable strength, surging ahead in the last 200 meters and breaking away from the pack to claim second place, finishing 4 minutes and 24 seconds behind Esperanza Barreras.

Cecilia Pampinella, last year’s victor, secured third place, followed closely by Tarryn King in fourth, affirming for the second time after her 5th place at the Battle For Hercules last month, her capability in long-distance competitions. Susak Molinero finished in 5th only a few centimeters behind Tarryn.

Csillag Kocsis impressed with a sixth-place finish, sending a clear message to her fellow competitors, notably Claudia Postiglione and Cecilia Pampinella, asserting her presence as a formidable contender in the junior division both now and in the future.

Day 4 – Technical Race competition

Sunday marked the culmination of the SUP Alps Trophy Lake Rocks Festival with the prestigious Technical Race. Over the course of 4 hours, competitors engaged in relentless racing, navigating through intense back-to-back elimination rounds spanning from quarter-finals to the climactic finals.


The event reached its zenith with two electrifying Open Men and Women finals, each unfolding as captivating showdowns reminiscent of a world championship.

In the women’s final, the spotlight fell straight away on Tarryn King, who launched into action with a resounding start akin to a 200m sprint final.

Asserting her dominance, she surged ahead, holding a commanding lead of two board lengths just 50 meters into the race, with a fast Susak Molinero, trailing behind. However, Claudia Postiglione’s swift buoy turns allowed her quickly to overtake the Spanish contender and claim the second position.

As the race progressed into the second lap, King’s pace began to wane, creating an opportunity for Argentinean contender Juliette Duhaime to seize the moment. Duhaime capitalized on Postiglione’s slower water re-entry after the 5-meter beach run, swiftly overtaking King on a straight line to buoy #2. With unwavering determination, Duhaime powered through to the finish line, securing her victory with a strong finish.

Meanwhile, Claudia Postiglione, showcasing remarkable talent at just 16 years old, proved her prowess by securing a coveted 2nd spot on the open women’s podium.  Tarryn King celebrated her third-place finish and second international podium of the weekeed with. Notably, Esperanza Barreras, the reigning Technical Race world champion, faced a sluggish start but managed to finish strong and clinch fourth place in the fiercely competitive field.

In the Men’s event, all the usual suspects were present in the final, with only two exceptions. Regrettably, Donato Freens, who clinched victory in the Long Distance race the day prior, finished fourth in his semifinal, abruptly ending his Technical Race aspirations, closely trailing Vaic Garioud. Similarly, the young representative from the USA, Bodie Von Allmen, faced disappointment in his Technical Race semifinal.

Andrey Kraytor initiated the race with a stellar start, leading by a significant margin ahead of the other eight athletes. However, his trajectory veered too close to buoy number 1, resulting in the loss of his paddle. Seizing this opportunity, Filippo Mercuriali capitalized on the slip-up, securing the lead which he maintained throughout the race. The pursuit behind him involved the NSP rider Blue Ewer, Santino Basaldella once again on his Light Board Paradoxa, Starboard rider Michael Booth, and Paolo Marconi on SUNOVA. Santino executed a strategic move, passing Blue Ewer in the initial lap and securing a notable second place, marking his best performance in an international competition to date. Meanwhile, the battle for third place ensued between Australian Michael Booth and Englishman Blue Ewer, ultimately favoring Booth, who secured his second podium finish of the weekend. Young Frenchman Vaic Garioud managed to recover from his initial setback to claim the fifth position, narrowly ahead of Paolo Marconi.

Filippo Mercuriali’s stellar performance, securing fifth place in the Long Distance race and first place in the Technical Race, has elevated his standing in the event, positioning him as a top contender for the upcoming ICF SUP Worlds in Sarasota, Florida.

Incredible Master and Juniors

As we come to the conclusion of this remarkable chapter, we cannot overlook the immense turnout, especially the remarkable performances of the over 50 men and women. Many of these seasoned athletes boast an impressive collection of medals from past ICF SUP World Championships, adding an extra layer of prestige to their achievements at the 2024 SUP Alps Trophy Lake Rocks Festival:

Furthermore, it’s inspiring to note the huge presence of youth participants particularly from Poland, Italy, Germany, and The Netherlands. These young athletes showcased astounding skills and performances, reflecting their promising future in SUP racing. This success is undoubtedly attributed to the dedicated efforts of their accompanying coaches, who are meticulously nurturing their talents, instilling impeccable technique and preparing them for tomorrow.

Results of the 2024 Lake Rocks Festival

> City iSUP X Crossing + Technical Race:

> Speed Race and Long Distance

Don’t miss The SUP Alps Trophy Lake Rocks Festival 2025 on May 29 > June 1st

About the Author

Mathieu Astier

Mathieu is the hyper-active founder of TotalSUP and a multilingual online marketing veteran with more than 20 years of experience working for top international internet companies. His love-at-first-sight for Stand Up Paddling in 2013 led him to build one of the leading online media dedicated to SUP in English and French and to turn his family lifestyle towards the ocean.

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