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Photoboy
12-10-2013, 02:21 PM
Erika and Johnny Heineken just returned from a 3 week tour de force, a round tripper around the world that resulted in a lot of airport time, new passport stamps and a little kiteboard course racing! The whole report can be found on Erika's Blog (http://erikaheineken.com/around-the-world-in-3-weeks/)





"Somehow a trip to the World Championships this year turned into a 3 week adventure around the world. When Johnny and I found out we were nominated for the Rolex Sailors of the Year Awards, how could we say no to a trip to Oman for the ISAF Conference? Once we were going a third of the way for the ceremony on Nov 12, obviously we had to head straight to Hainan, China, for the World Champs (Nov 18-24). The week following the event was Thanksgiving, so it was an easy decision to take off 2 additional days from work and to travel for the week.


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What an honor it was to attend the ISAF Conference as nominees for such a prestigious award. I had no idea how many people, from all corners of the world, dedicate so much time and energy to our sport. I think I’m still absorbing the whole experience. Johnny and I enjoyed playing the “crazy kiters” for a few days – sporting our flops and t-shirts when most people were in pants and polos in the 90 degree heat. We thoroughly enjoyed the jet-lagged, late night conversations with random sailors. Oh, and Paul Larsen is one of the most stoked people I’ve ever met. I wish everyone could be so passionate about their sailing ambitions as he is about the Sailrocket.

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We got out-of-town for an afternoon adventure to the Old Town of Muscat. The market only entertained us for a short while, instead we spotted some kites high up on the hill and meandered that way. We found the cutest kids flying one line kites up on a peak. They were able to fly them across multiple valleys, no joke, well over half a mile and hundreds of feet up. SO impressive!

Moving on… Our next leg of the journey around the world was neither short nor sweet – 3 flight legs in teeny seats and arguing about our luggage for each flight. By the time we had lugged our bags probably a mile around some Chinese airport, paid over-weight fees for the third time, and played charades with 10 different China Southern attendants, I was seriously evaluating this so-called “vacation”.

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Hainan wasn’t quite the “Hawaii of China” as advertised, but nonetheless we made the best of our time there. We scored some killer 20 knot days leading up to the event. I hadn’t even unpacked any kite other than a 10m before the event began, obviously working to the advantage of us San Francisco racers.


I didn’t really have any expectations about sailing in China, so I just took each day as it came. The race course ended up being small, and placed inside the reef that curved around King Bay. I would have preferred the Committee set 2 courses, one inside and one outside the reef but there weren’t seaworthy-enough rescue boats to feel comfortable with that setup. Before the event began though, we had a total blast surfing the swell on the outside. It was slightly sketchy because of the reef – which, rumor had it they had cut the top off before the event!


We were scheduled for 5 days of racing: 2 days of qualifying, 2 days of gold/silver/bronze and 1 day of medal series (top 10). For the women, there were only about 30 of us, we had 4 days of just standard fleet racing and 1 day of top 10 medal racing. The first 3 days were about 17-22 knots and perfect 10m conditions. I had 10 bullets and one over-early… Darn. I was totally pushing the starting line cause I never get the opportunity to do it in San Francisco against all the guys, but it caught up with me for once…

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The course was a double lapper with gates at the bottom and a reaching finish. I was really grooving on my 10m Ozone Edge and my Tectonics T43s. Something about the relatively flat water and getting good starts, but I felt fast. Just over a minute after the start, we would come up on the reef, so it was clutch to nail the tack and to get clear of the fleet. I didn’t have to play the same game the guys fleets did – they were so congested on the first upwind leg – I felt pretty clear ahead a minute or two into the races. My speed was similar to the faster girls, but when I needed a lane to tack, I’d put it into high-mode, nail a tack, and generally be clear enough to sail my own race at that point.

It was a bit of a one-way race track. I’d have to say the racing wasn’t as tactical as I would have preferred for a World Championship, but the Committee did an amazing job of getting races off efficiently. The first 4 days the leaders of the men’s fleets were finishing the races in about 10 minutes, which is just a bit short for a double lap course. It looked like a lot of follow-the-leader for the men’s, but they had a lot of board on board tactics to cope with. When you’re sailing upwind on port at closing speeds of 40 kts and have a fraction of a second to decide if you are going to try to cross or duck, that’s gonna separate the men from the boys! I was finishing anywhere from 15 seconds to 1:30 ahead of second place, Steph Bridge, so I was mostly looking down in the water and dodging floating garbage. Well not all the time, but nailing a submerged plastic bag, water bottle, rope or whatever else was in the water would send you flying!

For the first 3 days, Johnny and I one OCS (me), one tangle (Johnny), and all bullets. Sadly the wind teetered out on Day 4 so we raced on 13 meter, 17 meter, and 19 meter kites. I finished the day with a 1, 3, 1, though the racing was much closer than the earlier days. Johnny had a difficult day in his fleet finishing the day with 2 good races and 2 bad ones. Due to the tangle the previous day, however, all scores that day he had to carry over, which meant first place was untouchable and the top of the podium was decided (Florian, Ozone).


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The last day was very light wind to zero wind, and the last possible start was at 4pm. About 3pm the wind built just enough to get the committee to run one men’s race in 6-8 kts. 6 Ozones, 3 Norths, and 1 Cabrinha were the kites used in the medal race. I was super proud of Johnny, able to sail the course in those conditions and finish the race in 3rd. The smaller Europeans go so fast in those conditions, so the fact that Johnny was able to do so well on his 19m Edge was very impressive. He was sitting in second going into the medal race, and was able to hold on to that position the last day.

A great support crew showed up for this event, Iain Hannay from Ozone and Mike from SVB. Both were huge supporters of us Heineken kids and many other racers. We rely heavily on our sponsors and can’t thank them enough for the support. Also, a very special thanks to Michael Petrikov who, through his incredible photos, is able to show off the intensity of this course racing.


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Lastly, our favorite restaurant deserves a special thanks. We ate there every night of the event, and may not have survived without it. The sweet lady even came down to see the racing one day.

After a quick vacation in Cambodia and Vietnam, we scheduled 24 hours in Hong Kong to finish on the trip. It was only fitting to spend the evening drinking wine at the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, taking full advantage of my reciprocal privileges with the St Francis YC. Thanks for reading!"