The Lake Rocks Festival 2023: Interview with the Race Director Gerd Weisner

If there’s one lake that’s going to ROCK this SUP racing season, it’s the Faaker See in the Austrian state of Carinthia. Its stunning location will become the central stage for The Lake Rocks Festival held on 18-21 May welcoming top athletes and the sport enthusiasts for a long weekend packed with SUP racing action, fun races, live music, food and after-parties! For the first time, qualification points for the SUP World Championships will be earned at Faaker See, as the event is part of the ICF World Ranking Series.

TotalSUP caught up with Gerd Weisner, lifelong watersports professional, Co-Founder of LIGHTBOARDCORP® and The Lake Rocks Festival Race Director, to chat about the upcoming event.

Photo credit: x SUP Alps Trophy

Hi Gerd, Could you share your watersport background

Hi, I’m the Co-Founder of GTA Distribution which is a leading action sports distributor in the German speaking countries. We established our business when I finished school in 1988 and in the mid-90s we launched our brand LIGHTBOARDCORP® building snowboards and surf boards. Surfboard R&D and production were established in Bali, at the beginning of 2000. We have a strong heritage in real surf with international team riders.

Gerd Weisner / Photo credit: x SUP Alps Trophy

Due to our strong roots in surfing it took us a while to embrace the sport of stand-up paddleboarding. I started to SUP around 2013 on a Takayama Ultraglide 12´x 24”, a real surf longboard, on the local river in front of our main office to stay fit for the surf trips. I guess the likes of Laird Hamilton, Kai Lenny, larger-than-life watermen opened the horizon.

I took part in my first local SUP race in 2016, fell in love with endurance side of SUP racing and  joined our local canoe club. Hermann Husslein and Peter Weidert have been, since then, my friends and local training partners as well as Normen Weber who has been joining us whenever he is nearby. This was one of the reasons I could win 4 times the German Masters Championship titles in long distance, a Bronze medal at the ICF Masters 50 World Championship Tech Race in 2021 and several podiums in the SUP Alps Trophy series. I love SUP racing!

Photo credit: x SUP Alps Trophy

You’re also in charge this year of putting together The Lake Rocks Festival on Lake Fakersee in Austria. It’s the event #1 of the SUP Alps Trophy, can you give us the history behind this series and tell us how it works?

In 2021 we took the leadership of the SUP Alps Trophy, the longest running and biggest SUP race series in Germany and Austria. Running since 2014, the series comes with a lot of heritage and media coverage. There are several events taking place between May and October and the top 3 results count for the overall ranking. It’s getting more and more popular and we have competitors joining the Trophy from other countries as well. Last year we we had over 300 competitors in the ranking and we expect many more this year. The SUP racing scene is growing and the good news is the youth is just about to embrace our sport more and more.

Christian Taucher introduced me to the Tourism Manager of Villach-Kärnten-Austria who came up with the idea to host a SUP racing event at the Faakersee as an initiative to brand the region around Villach as “”. I’ve known that place since my childhood and it is one of the most beautiful sceneries in the Alps and a real holiday destination.

Christian Taucher / Photo credit: x SUP Alps Trophy

Our inaugural event last year was a great success bringing together local paddlers of all skill-levels with the community of SUP racers. It’s been out of the gates our most influential SUP Alps Trophy event leading us into a 5-year contract.  The commitment from all officials from the region and especially the Tourism Manager, Michael Sternig, and his team has been outstanding. We’ll be introducing SUP race formats to newcomers like the big SUP races and the AirSUP Boardercross Championship (inflatable only Tech Race ), youth clinics and more. We have a very valuable prize money pot of €9.000 for the Long Distance Pro Race which is the DNA of the SUP Alps Trophy. On top of that, there will be €1.000 for the Tech Race.

Photo credit: x SUP Alps Trophy

How big is the “rocking” part? Shall we expect live music everyday?

Ah, it’s a metaphor, when hundreds of SUP racers push hard “The Lake Rocks”! But don’t worry,  we are going to have music, professional and insight moderation and as far as I heard you’ll be joining us for a live coverage of the main events – so Mathieu Astier (Editorial note: Mr TotalSUP) should bring his guitar!

Photo credit: x SUP Alps Trophy

Our Race Director Rudy van Haven has an unbelievable sense of humour and knowledge of the local and national paddlers and will be a great partner to moderate the event all the way. It’s all about good vibes and a real paddle festival for everybody. Newcomers can check the latest products from our SUP brand partners, racers can test and swap, talk the talk while having a good time. The location is also stunning at the Campingplatz Gruber where all campers can enjoy direct access to the event area. There are also mobile homes, a nice bar and restaurant…

Rudy van Haven / Photo credit: x SUP Alps Trophy

The Lake Rocks Festival is also an ICF WORLD RANKING EVENT – what does that mean for the participants and as an added value to the event?

The SUP Alps Trophy welcomes participants mainly from Germany, Austria, Czech, Slovenia, Hungary, Croatia, Poland and Italy, so it has always had an international character.

As for the ICF, it’s a good possibility to add a serious race into their ranking which should help to set up start lists for the World Championships in open class Tech Race. It’s beneficial for everybody, ICF ranking will add up the general quality of paddlers and I expect to see some more high profile paddlers entering our series. Still, it’s important to keep the good vibe going for all participants which has always been at the core of The SUP Alps Trophy events.

Photo credit: x SUP Alps Trophy

You’re the Co-Founder and I understand one of the pioneers of the hollow construction with your brand LIGHTBOARDCORP®, a successful SUP race brand well-established especially in Germany. What’s the DNA of the brand and are we likely to see more Lightboard Corp boards worldwide?

I guess we are the first SUP brand that has brought hollow construction to SUP race boards in serious numbers to the market. In 2017 we started the cooperation with the NELO factory in Portugal. Since 2018 we’ve developed serial hollow construction race boards in custom designs. So that might be a reason why we are a bit under the radar although we have a good number of titles under our belt. Our paddlers can choose from many different design options and like 20 colours, leading into hundreds, thousands of different designs they can play with the design maker.

I liked the idea of manufacturing  super-lightweight, durable and stiffer race boards but with a touch of individuality. So it takes 5-8weeks between order and delivery. The shapes are absolutely precise as everything is build in a mould. The beauty of the hollow construction is the stiffer flex compared to eps foam laminated versions. Today we have many shapes and dimensions to choose from and we can see some of the big brands entering the hollow construction market.

Our product development is not based on annual pursuit for fresh design and shape change. It’s more about refinement in construction and additional variety to make different type of paddlers more successful. Besides the top sellers like the SIGNATURE with its different convex hull we are launching these days a new model in a super high-end technology. You can get a preview of the PARADOXA – it is the first hollow race board built in the autoclave unidirectional carbon prepreg technology. Standing area is below waterline which works with our drainage valve system which is unique in the world. You can get your hand on it at The Lake Rocks!

Will you have a Lightboard Corp Team racing at The Lake Rocks?

Oh yes, for sure, Normen Weber, Peter Weidert, Hermann Husslein are expected and Donato Freens is trying his best to join us but he has his final tests finishing school. We also have a number of fine and fast SUP amateurs competing including some promising juniors.

Lake Fakersee looks absolutely stunning on previous editions photos. What can you tell about the area which might convince international SUP racers to make the trip and potentially make a holiday of it?

Faaker See – Villach is in the south of Austria directly at the boarder of Italy and Slovenia. The climate is always a bit warmer. The valley is wide open with some of the most beautiful mountains surrounding it and the colour of the lake is not “photoshopped” – it really looks like something between Mallorca and the Maldives… It’s absolutely worth a trip and don’t forget about the traditional Austrian food.

Photo credit: x SUP Alps Trophy

The week after The Lake Rocks Festival we have the next SUP Alps Trophy event – The 2023 Legend of Ox – ​St. Gilgen SUP Festival. So a roundtrip could be a two-race weekend event with both adding up some ICF ranking points on top of the prestigious SUP Alps Trophy ranking.

Could you share a sneak peek of who has confirmed their participation already?

Speaking about the entries, we’re expecting Joep van Bakel, as mentioned before possibly Donato Freens from the Netherlands, UK Champion Blue Ewer, Andrey Kraytor (Olympian & 2x World and European Champion), Germany’s most successful paddler Normen Weber and some fast Italians…The regular paddlers from our area such as Christian Taucher, Peter Weidert, Hermann Husslein, Manuel Lauble, Ole Schwarz, Susanne Eder-Meyer, Marion Seebauer and Petra Pyfrader to name just few are expected.

Manuel Lauble / Photo credit: x SUP Alps Trophy

But as the registrations are still open we anticipate more big names to enter. For the French and Spanish racers it’s quite a distance to make but don’t forget there is a solid prize pot and the honour to take the win.

Gerd Weisner taking the Junior Tech Race results / Photo credit: x SUP Alps Trophy

Thank you for your time Greg and we can’t wait to see all the SUP action in such amazing location!

>> To find out more about the event, visit 

>> Follow Gerd Weisner on Instagram 

The Lake Rocks Festival 2023: REGISTER

THE LAKE ROCKS offers entertaining sporting competitions for hobby paddlers and professionals: From the spectacular NIGHT Race and the 12-kilometre PRO Race to the 2-kilometre FUN competition and the 1-kilometre TECH Race with short portage (board carrying at the beach)

The TEAM Race is also an exciting team competition. You can find the registration form for the TEAM Race here 

The first 200 registrations will also receive the official THE LAKE ROCKS LYCRA free of charge with the starting bag.

The Lake Rocks Festival 2023: SCHEDULE

Check out the full schedule here 

About the Author

Anna Nadolna

Anna is the Founder of SUPer Whale, a Cambridge(UK!)-based emerging watersports brand and a stand-up paddleboarding community. She is a certified SUP Flat Water Instructor accredited by International Surfing Association (ISA). Anna is also a digital marketing, storytelling aficionado and a growth hacking enthusiast.

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