January 21 - Kiteboarder Johnny Heineken has been named as the Rolex US Sailing Yachtsman of the Year following a successful campaign which saw him take his second successive victory at the 2012 Course Racing World Championships in Cagliari, Italy.
California-born Heineken dominated kiteboardinglast year, taking victory at the Kiteboarding North American Course Racing Championship in San Francisco and the Copa Mexico Regatta among others.
"To even be mentioned in connection with this award is an honour; so many of my role models are on the list of recipients," said Heineken
"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 24-year-old believes that his background in sailing stood him in good stead to make the switch to kiteboarding.
"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 the former Santa Barbara Sailing Team Captain.
Kiteboarding had initially been included on the Olympic programme for Rio 2016 until the International Sailing Federation reversed the decision.
But Heineken is continuing to champion the sport with a possible 2020 Games inclusion on the cards.
"You can call it a boat or a board or whatever, but kiting is the only kind of sailing where you're directly connecting the sail through your body to the board and then to the water via the fin," he said.
"You're so involved in the dynamic of making the boat go fast through the water that I would argue it's the most pure form of sailing."
The newly-crowned Yachtsman of the Year competes and travels with his older sister Erika Heineken, who also won the 2012 World Championships in the women's event.
She finished as runner-up in this year's Rolex US Sailing Yachtswoman of the Year award to Paralympics silver medallist Jennifer French.
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