Saturday 22nd February – Lake Annecy, France

Once again we saw an almighty field of almost 500 strong SUP paddlers take to the freezing cold but beautiful turquoise waters of Lake Annecy, nestled between the French Alps. The 2018 GlaGla race is just one many races under the Alpine Lakes Tour banner which run all season long in spectacular locations such as this. Although the majority of the field here will be enjoying this event in the fun or open category, there were a host of big names throwing their name into the mix for the race title in the Elite field of paddle board racers.


Dream Team rider Leo Nika from Italy returned this year determined to take number one spot on this years Men’s Elite podium after a tight photo finish with Martin Letourneur at last year’s edition. It took a while to get all 494 racers assembled at start line but Leo Nika didn’t waste any time after the start horn sounded to get himself to front the lead train and of 7 racers into the first buoy turn – and setting the pace – with fellow Italian Starboard Team Martino Rogai comfortably in third position.


Leo lead the front pack for much of the first 7km with Travis Grant taking some up the pull at the front momentarily to challenge the status quo before settling back in behind Leo. Flat water racing is always challenging to break up the pack with your competitors hanging onto your draft and conserving energy but Leo, determined not  carry everyone along and end the battle in a sprint finish once again, made attempts to break away from the lead pack;


“I tried to pull out in the middle of the race but the downwind was not so strong and I had to stop a few times because I couldn’t see the buoys, fortunately, the boat shows us the way because otherwise, we will not find the way. In the last 5 km, I decide to draft a little bit so I will have the energy for the last sprint and that was the best decision.”


Unfortunately the final finish line sprint did not go in the Italians favour once again with the Dark Horse Frenchman Tom Auber narrowly edging out Leo for the win in an almost deja vu result of last years finish. Nonetheless Leo had an outstanding race and soaked in the warm atmosphere of the his supporters cheering him on;


“…the finish was great because a lot of people that were standing above the lake and screaming my name and I feel to push myself more” ~ Leo Nika


Italian Team mate Martin Rogai put in a stellar performance to finish in third place on the mens podium, ahead of World Number 3 ranked Travis Grant out of Australia/ Hawaii;


“My GlaGla Race is just finished. I got the 3rd, there is so much work ahead and to solve some of my mistakes. Thanks Travis Grant for your words and the inspiration you gave me since the first time I started SUP. Congratulations to the winner Tom Auber – you’re a really young rocket ? and to my compatriot Leo Nika for the 2nd place finish here today!”


Both Leo and Martin raced the Starboard Sprint 14′ x 21.5″ … learn more about this rocket of a SUP race board here.


Relive the exciting 2018 GlaGla Race Facebook LIVE Stream by SUP Racer right here:


The next edition of the GlaGla Race will take place on January 19th, 2019 in Talloires and the next leg of the Alpine Lakes Tour will take place on March 10 and 11 – visit the official Alpine Lakes Tour website for more info or Follow them on Facebook for more updates.


Here is the list of results for the 15km Long Distance (*main) Event:



Men 14′
1. Tom Auber France Surf In 01:31:36
2. Leonard Nika Italy TBC 01:31:38
3. Martino Rogai Italy CVA 01:31:49

Women 14′
1. Nathalie Debost Guern France SUP 29 02:00:35
2. Andrea Forrer Switzerland 02:01:06
3. Lidvina Champendal Switzerland Montreux 02:03:55


Words: Chris Couve | Pic Credits: Supplied/ Alex Fernet