Flying on Water


Johnny Heineken got it all wrong.

Going into last weekend’s kite racing on San Francisco Bay—on foils—the two-time kite-racing world champion and former US Rolex Yachtsman of the Year predicted, “This could be the first event in which a lot of people win races.”

Then he went out and won every race.

Shows what he knows.

The kiting scene is always in-churn, but of this moment Heineken said, “We’ve seen a lot of new energy, not a ton of development.” The top foil makers will be introducing new shapes this summer. In the meantime, the action is in ram-air kites, which are not just for training anymore. Absent a rigid structure, a ram-air kite’s double-skinned shape is maintained by bridles. It packs down to almost nothing, so it’s handy for travel but limited to light and moderate winds. The earliest versions were good for very light wind only, but now, Heineken said. “I have 9-18, and they’re efficient. Mine come from Chrono. It feels like you’re flying a wing, not a bag.”

The event was the Live2Kite Foilboard Nationals with 28 riders, sailed off Crissy Field Beach and hosted by the St. Francis Yacht Club. There’s an inevitable focus on the equipment, “But’s not just a gear race,” Heineken said. “You’ve got to get clean starts, foil through maneuvers, go fast, don’t go swimming.”

And there was a lot of that.


I do believe that Erik caught Erika here, a two-time women’s world champion on course boards, flying, briefly . . .


Foils are the future, but there’s one heck of a learning curve.

Photo credits to Erik Simonson, Pressure-Drop.US.

The top three

Johnny Heineken [1] 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 10

Joey Pasquali 4 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 [29/OCS] 22

Stefaans Viljoen [M] 2 5 7 7 4 4 3 [29/DNF] 4 4 2 42

Suns New Jerseys