Johnny Heineken (Larkspur, Calif.), age 24, has been named the 2012 Rolex Yachtsman of the Year for his dominating performances in competitive kiteboarding, including the Kiteboarding Course Racing World Championship in Cagliari, Italy, where he topped 148 competitors to claim the world title for a second consecutive year.
Heineken also proved his racing prowess by besting 45 competitors in the Kiteboarding North American Course Racing Championship in San Francisco and 34 competitors at the Pacific Pilsner Canadian Kiteboard Course Racing Nationals in Squamish, Canada. He set a new course record (14 minutes, 4 seconds) in the Ronstan Bridge to Bridge Race in San Francisco among 58 entrants and rounded out his record by posting victories at PKRA Mexico (20 competitors), PKRA Burn Kiteboarding World Tour (16 competitors) and Copa Mexico Regatta (13 competitors). He finished second at La Ventana Classic (20 competitors) and took third at both the PKRA Beetle Kitesurf World Cup (31 competitors) and PKRA Gold Games Kitesurf (30 competitors).
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 (also referred to as kitesurfing—an athletic surface water sport combining aspects of wakeboarding, windsurfing and surfing and using a large controllable kite to harness the power of the wind) 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.