No longer the ‘Other’ Heineken

Published on December 16th, 2013

Training with the guys on San Francisco Bay in all kinds of wind has proven to be pretty much all the coaching that Erika Heineken, 27, needs to keep her No. 1 spot in women’s kiteboarding course racing.

The Corte Madera (Northern California) resident just returned home victorious with a second consecutive world title she won at the International Kiteboarding Association course racing world championships held in Hainan, China. She was also one of four finalists in the International Sailing Federation Rolex Sailor of the Year award recently held in Oman.

Her younger brother Johnny, 25, who won the world champion title in the men’s division of the same event in 2011 and 2012 fell just short of a third win by taking second place in this year’s event.

“At least I’m now tied with Johnny, right?” Heineken laughed, adding on a more serious note, “It was a bummer he couldn’t be up there with me but he sailed a good event in a tough fleet.”

In China, winning 13 out of 14 races over four days of fleet racing, Heineken beat out her long-time nemesis Steph Bridge (Great Britain) and Elena Kalinina (Russia) who took second and third spots respectively.

Having been beaten earlier in the year by Bridge, Heineken didn’t know what to expect in China. Her preparation included a couple of international events but Heineken says she really got her training through the competitive local scene where there was plenty of racing with the Kiteboard Racing North American Championship in June on the Bay, and the Canadian Kiteboarding Nationals in August.

“I was curious to see how Steph and I would match up at the worlds,” Heineken said. “I guess I downplayed the fact that I had sailed a lot all summer between events so I felt pretty on it by the time I got to China.”

She was also blessed with conditions that worked to her advantage.

“There was a lot of talk that this Worlds was going to be light wind and that’s what the Europeans like,” Heineken said. “For us, we’re like, ‘It is what it is, we’re going.’ It turned out to be 20 knots for the first three days and it’d had been blowing 20 for three days beforehand.”

Competitors must register their kites they will use prior to racing which can make it difficult to get the choice right at new locations. Heineken had registered 7-meter and 10-meter kites, a decision she wasn’t entirely thrilled about.

“I didn’t have a 9 and I was worried about the range I had, but ended up completely falling in love with my 10-meter and being able to hold onto it when I was overpowered,” she said. “The kite is so smooth and it can handle the range of conditions that it was designed to.” – Marin Independent Journal, read on

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