Frangipani SUP at the Lake Rocks Festival

If you are thinking about going to the Lakes Rocks Festival in 2025, our advice is GO GO GO! 

Festival is definitely the word for this fun packed event in Karnten (Carinthia) Austria, in the Eastern Alps. Nestled on the shores of the beautiful turquoise Faaker See (Lake Faak) the Strandcamping Gruber campsite with its modern and excellent cafe/restaurant and live music was the venue for four exciting days of SUP racing.  

The Lake Rocks

The beach

We flew from Stansted Airport to Klagenfurt Airport (not daily flights, so check this) and then used efficient and easy buses and trains to get to Faaker See.  

Once again Andrei Kraitor and Union Paddlers delivered the goods, an immaculate Sunova 14’ 23” Allwater FAAST Pro, identical to what I paddle at home, waiting for me at the venue. He’s such a super nice guy, I love working with him and his crew. And renting a board is SO much less hassle than flying with it, grappling with different airports with differing oversize luggage procedures, automated baggage belt challenges and heavy handed loading. I look to save money where I can in other areas of the trip so that I rent a board.

Hosted by Paddelstat.at and the Tourism Association Villach the festival with over 300 competitors from 24 countries and many excellent sponsors really did deliver something for everyone.  Austria is surrounded by eight countries – Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Germany – so most people had driven and many were camping on the incredibly smart campsite. 

Timetable for Friday.

The lake backdrop was stunning – craggy mountains, with a little packed snow left on their peaks, pine forests covering the hills, green meadows with horses and wildflowers fringed the lake edges, where we paddled past beautiful homes, holiday chalets, campsites and the occasional hotel.

The backdrop

Stunning

The area’s tourist information team were incredibly helpful both before and during the event and provided information about places to stay.  We stayed at a lovely pension apartment within walking distance of the Gruber campsite.  Our pension hostess issued us with special cards that gave us all sorts of free or discounted access to activities in the area. At the venue, organisers Mike, Helga and team welcomed us with perfect spoken English and valuable help.

Here is Organiser Mike taking care of the beer prizes!


As an ICF world ranking event and part of the SUP Alps Trophy the 200m speed time trials, 12km distance and short technical heats were stacked with amazing competitors of all ages and the City iSUP Bordercross race, MegaSUP team race and 2km Fun Race provided a range of inclusive options for all levels of paddler and all ages.  


We kicked things off on Thursday we hopped onto the event coach with other competitors and went into central Villach for the City iSUP Bordercross race on the River Drau, where Lightcorp iSUPs were provided for all to use, to make it fair.  It was sunny and warm for the one short-lap event, and the river flow following the previous day’s heavy rain made the upstream start and buoy turn challenging, with many competitors piling at the turn taking a swim! It made for a brilliant fun afternoon for both racers and the many cheering spectators lining the river banks and nearby bridges.  

Villach


Huge congrats to Frangipani SUP Challenge & Race Team member Big Mike for scoring 3rd place in his category and a fabulous medal. So fabulous that on the way home the airport security pulled his bag at x-ray for a look.  When they found it they all agreed, what a thing of great beauty! 


Friday was my favourite SUP race format ever ~ Sprint speed time trials with beach starts and finishes, paddle out 100m, left hand buoy turn, then back to the beach.  You could see your time on the big screen and the live results on an App. So exciting and so tactical, trying to shave off seconds and keep in front of others time-wise. I went early, in the first 5 or so competitors in the line-up, then again and again as I loved it and wanted to get experience of this format under pressure. But I was definitely feeling it after 7 laps, in warm sunshine! Team mate Holly Pye, such a gutsy and big hearted competitor who continues to inspire us, nailed a brilliantly executed 4th place. And I finished 6th in age behind some truly inspirational older competitors, which made me feel very happy.

Speed time trials starting gate.

After this the Team Event on MegaiSUPs was held off the beach and it was hotly contested with teams decked in their team colours giving it everything! We heard peels of laughter wafting across the campsite as we sat in the cafe shade to eat. Mike chose a slice of apple strudel (it would have been rude not to!) which was cut from a huge version displayed in the counter. Delicious! 

Apple Strudel

Saturday was the Kelag Long Distance race day…with a MASSIVE male start line that stretched across the lake, setting off for approximately 12km over 3 laps, that included rounding the back of a small island with a beach finish. The women were started 5 mins later and I joined a last minute shunt to the left hand left side as we watched the men lay the first buoy, far off in the distance, and realised the bias. As an ex dinghy racer this made me smile. 🙂 Having screwed up the first half of lap 3, I opened it up hard at 10km and finished 9th in category. Blue Ewer and Holly Pye were firing and fighting it out with Europe’s best, both putting in fabulous performances. It was a memorable race that took you really close to the beach in front of the live feed, with the brilliant Mathieu Total SUP doing his commentary, as always. He’s such a positive part of international SUP racing and at Frangipani SUP we just love him. 

Whilst I was slogging it out racing Mike took part in some relaxing (free) SUP Yoga with the lovely Beate Egger who very kindly gave him a copy of her super SUP yoga book.

In between events we had time to wander around the sponsors village and we were particularly drawn to the carbon VLT fins (out of Italy) and the awesome Sunova boards (out of Thailand) – it’s always interesting to see kit (they call it “material” in Europe) in the flesh and ask questions of the experts. 


In the afternoon, the 2km Fun Race race competitors massed on the water for their start and the brilliant Race Director had his hands full trying to get them to all line up, and then set off for 2 laps of a triangle. I did video the start from the pontoon but trying to get so many people back onto the line turned the air blue, so here’s a photo instead! So exciting, and really awesome to watch tiny kids paddling it out in the mix. As I’ve said before, in the UK we really need to sort out youth participation, or our sport will wither on the vine.


Fun race start line.


Big Mike was definitely in the mix with our friend Vlad, both on Rapid SUP iSUPs. They both maintained the advantage of a good start to finished really well. Big Mike just loves his new 14’ GT iSUP board, so huge thanks Rapid SUP.


Big Mike and Vlad from Rapid SUP stoked after the Fun Race on their 14’ iSUPs.


At the evening’s prize giving we whooped as loud as we could when Blue Ewer stepped onto the podium to collect 4th place with prize-money, a truly impressive result in a hugely competitive stacked men’s fleet. Blue just gets stronger and stronger and we felt SO happy for him.


The finale of our trip on the last evening was the waters edge Quri pop-up sauna tent laid on by Vlad and his colleagues. It was just AWESOME to hang out there to watch the sunset over the mountains. A properly decent pop-up sauna set-up (really got the fire stoking in there), some chill music and relaxing vibes – with an alpine lake for a nice cool dip! What’s not to like?!

The Quri pop-up sauna tent

The Quri folks also have some quality pop up and easy to collapse camping pods too that were being used in the campsite.  Having seen it all close up, and how much everyone loved it, we think these pop up saunas and camping pods are a must for all outdoor living and sporting events!


The Ryanair schedule and pesky work meant we had to miss the Technical racing on Sunday, leaving the village of Egg am Faaker See at 8am…but huge congrats to Blue and Holly for truly excellent tech results. 

Thank you to everyone involved in putting on this fantastic event, we really appreciated all your hard work.

So to wrap up, put this event in your diary for 2025 folks….it really is a cracker!


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