- 15 January 2013 | Kiteboarding
Johnny Heineken is US Sailing's 2012 Rolex Yachtsman of the Year. The kiteboarder was selected from a shortlist of eight male sailors.
Johnny Heineken, from Larkspur, California, had an impressive year 2012, including the Kiteboarding Course Racing World Championship and set a new course record (14 minutes, 4 seconds) in the Ronstan Bridge to Bridge Race, in San Francisco.
"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.
"To even be mentioned in connection with this award is an honor. But it's also exciting that kiting has been accepted into the world of yachting. 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 selection panel was especially impressed by the fact that Heineken's racing took him to venues across the globe - including Germany, France and Turkey - where his fellow kiteboarding competitors were considered the world's best.
They also made note that kiteboarding had come into its own as a significant sailing genre. One panelist pointed out that the term "yachtsman", despite its allusion to the most traditional aspects of sailing, easily befits a sailor with Heineken's talents and devotion to growing the sport.
Heineken trains and travels with his older sister, Erika Heineken, age 26, who was runner-up this year for the Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year title, which was awarded to Jennifer French.