Kiteboarder Johnny Heineken named US Yachtsman of the Year
Portsmouth, RI, United States (4E Sports) – For winning the Course Racing World Championships for a second straight year and a successful overall campaign in 2012, kiteboarder Johnny Heineken has been named as Rolex US Sailing Yachtsman of the Year.
“To even be mentioned in connection with this award is an honor. So many of my role models are on the list of recipients,” said Heineken, who also ruled the Kiteboarding North American Course Racing Championship and the Copa Mexico Regatta among others.
Heineken hopes that the award will bring more attention and fans to kiteboarding.
“It’s also exciting that kiting has been accepted into the world of yachting,” Heineken said. “It’s pretty amazing how far the class has come in the last five years and exciting for me to be involved in the development of that.”
The 24-year-old Heineken credited his sailing background for his success. He was a former Santa Barbara sailing team captain before he switched to kiteboarding.
“I started kiteboarding a lot later than many of the people I’m competing against, but I did grow up sailing and that’s what has given me a strong background to be a good kite racer,” said Heineken.
Heineken said he will continue to champion the sport until it is included in the 2020 Olympic Games.
Kiteboarding had initially been included on the Olympic program for Rio 2016 until the International Sailing Federation reversed the decision.
“You can call it a boat or a board or whatever, but kiting is the only kind of sailing where you’re directly connecting the sail through your body to the board and then to the water via the fin,” Heineken explained.
“You’re so involved in the dynamic of making the boat go fast through the water that I would argue it’s the most pure form of sailing,” he added.
Heineken travels with his older sister Erika Heineken, who also won the 2012 World Championships in the women’s event.
She finished as runner-up in this year’s Rolex US Sailing Yachtswoman of the Year award to Paralympics silver medalist Jennifer French.