Tuesday, July 24, 2012


26-year old Erika Heineken, from Marin County, Calif., is the new women’s North American Course Racing Champion. It’s her first major kiteboarding win, and she shares the success with brother Johnny Heineken, who was also crowned the 2012 men’s North American Course Racing Champion this past weekend.

Markus Schwendtner, executive secretary for the IKCA (International Kiteboard Class Association) noted his appreciation to event host, “The renowned St. Francis Yacht Club, one of the birth places and still a hot spot for kite course racing, hosted an amazing event for the nearly 70 kite racers and 20+ Formula Windsurfers in this combined championship event of the IKA and Formula Windsurfing Class.”

12 races in challenging conditions were held over the course of four days, split into three days of qualifying series and one day of final series. With two discards for the whole event it was crucial for competitors to stay out of trouble and avoid mistakes and equipment failure. Winds up to 30 knots at the top mark situated right under the Golden Gate Bridge and steep choppy seas made the event a challenge for both sailors and equipment.

The women’s kiteboarding podiums were completed by Boriana Viljoen (Ocean Rodeo) and Warenta Smutny (North), and as published briefly yesterday, Bryan Lake (USA, Cabrinha/Mikes Lab) and Adam Koch (USA, Ozone/Mikes Lab) for the men.

Sailblast had a chat with Erika this morning and she sounded super excited to have won this event. I didn’t ask but assumed she was not spending the day at her job as a mechanical engineer for the Department of Public Works in San Francisco, hopefully she was taking a day off to celebrate her success…

How did it feel to be up there on the podium?

EH: It felt great!

Seemed like you were in the game the entire event?

EH: Yeah, I sailed really consistently. I got in a few tangles which didn’t help my overall score but I sailed really consistently in both the qualifiers and the gold final series races. I was the only girl to make the gold fleet which was cool! I ended up getting 23rd overall and I think the next girl finished 25 spots below me. So I was pretty much racing against the guys which I’m used to and I love!

What training did you do to prepare for the event?

EH: My training regimen includes just sailing here - all summer. I haven’t traveled, I’ve just been sailing at Crissy and it’s been amazing. We’ve had the best summer here I can imagine.

Were you happy with your result?

EH: Yeah! I wanted to get top 20 but once I saw who registered - we ended up getting a huge group of the best international men - once I saw that they were going to come I knew I wasn’t going to finish as high but at the same time it was super exciting to be racing against the best in the world in my home. None of the good international girls showed up which was kind of disappointing. I’d like to see where I stand in comparison to them before I go to the Worlds in October.

Is there a range of conditions better suited for you?

EH: Yeah - I’d say 20-30 knots in chop I’m really fast! When I’m on my 7m, I’m pretty fast, when I’m on my 9 - well, I’m getting better on that - but this summer 90% of the days I’ve been on my 7 and it’s been just wonderful. That’s the one thing going into the international fleet is that I need to figure out how to get more light air practice.

Do you see yourself windsurfing again?

EH: I’d love to go out if the gear was rigged ready to go and conditions were perfect, but I’ll never go back to … rigging again. Kiting is more exciting.

The next two major events of the International Kiteboarding Association will be the European Championships in La Baule, France (26.-30.09.2012) and the Kite Course Racing World Championships in Cagliari, Italy (02.-07.10.2012), before the South American Championship in Buzios, Brazil (15.-18.11.2012) and the first ever ISAF Sailing World Cup with the inclusion of Kiteboarding as Olympic Event in Melbourne, Australia, conclude the 2012 season.


Awesome pics compliments of Erik Simonson/Pressure-drop.us

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