Thursday, 24 June 2010

RRD Rider Heineken Breaks Through To Beat Top Formula Windsurfers In Course Racing

Hi thought this would interest you since it was an RRD Team rider that
did the deed. A pretty historic Day that I thought you'd like to know
about. Kiteboards finally broke through to beat the windsurfers in a
fair race. First time in the world that I know of. I am author and
photog. aka

Full Article with Photo gallery and complete results
San Francisco Bay Area kiters and windsurfers have been on the cutting
edge of many trends and Saturday June 19th's Cal Cup race in Berkeley
was no exception. Cal Cup number 4 went off with big winds and big

For the past few races some of the world's top Kiteboarders have been
racing alongside the Cal Cup Formula Fleet. While some of the kiters
have come tantalizingly close to winning a race it took two of the
worlds best to finally draw first blood.

With Andrew Koch (Ozone Kites, Aguera Boards), Johnny Heineken (RRD
Kites, Mike's Lab Boards) and the current world champion Adam Koch
(Ozone Kites, Aguera Boards),in attendance the tension was palpable at
the skippers meeting with the Formula Fleet knowing today might be the
day a Kiter finally breaks through for a bullet in a race. All three
kiteboarders are part of Team Fluid. Winning the day wasn't really
feared by the windsurfers- but it should have been.

While the Cal Cup Formula Fleet is not sailing at the level of the
World's top Formula sailors there are still some tough competitors in
the fleet. With multiple national championship results and countless
race wins under their belts the fleet is one of the best amateur
fleets in the world and probably the best amateur fleet when its
stonking windy like it was today. Most of the Formula fleet were on
their 9.0s with a few of the larger riders choosing 10.0s. The course
featured a shortened windward mark setting, with the A fleet doing 2

Race one and the kiters were on best behavior on the starting line.
Just taking the sterns of the boards at the gun it was pretty evident
that the Formula board still out performs the kiteboard upwind.
However two very different styles were apparent amongst the kiters.
Adam Koch was sailing significantly higher angle up wind than Johnny
Heineken. Koch was pretty much holding the same angle as the Formula
Boards but was just slightly off their pace with board speed.
Meanwhile Johnny had significantly more board speed than anyone on the
course while sailing a lower line, but was it enough to overcome his
lack of upwind angle?

4 boards (the gap is pictured above) made the windward mark before
Heineken was able to make the mark followed closely by Koch. The
separation was about 15 seconds between the first boards and the
kites. Adam and Johnny then both put the hammer down on the downwind
leg and were absolutely flying. Then the hammer came back to smack
them. In a spectacular cloud of spray Koch goes down in the very
definition of a yard sale. Heineken also takes a fall but is able to
avoid the sever wipeout of Koch. As we know swimming is slow and with
a shortened course a single mistake will take you out of contention as
it did this race allowing Steve Sylvester to take the win. In a sign
of things to come Heineken put himself together to recover for second
place with Chris Radkowski on Formula gear in third.

Race 2 saw the kites feeling a little more comfortable on the line and
pushing in to the fleet to get legit starts albeit still on the sterns
of the windsurfers. Koch was still holding line with the Formula
Boards while Heineken was again footing for speed (You can see this
quite clearly in the pictures below). Steve Sylvester makes the
windward mark first with an 8 second lead over Johnny. 3 boards and
Adam Koch round about 10 seconds behind the two leaders. As they come
to the leeward mark Johnny has used his speed to overtake Sylvester
and has taken the lead.(full photo sequence). After the leeward mark
Johnny has not only made up the deficit he is now 13 seconds (in full
disclosure it was 13 alligators) ahead of Sylvester. As they round the
mark you can see the two lines being sailed are totally different with
Johnny going low and fast and Sylvester holding the high line. As they
get back to the windward mark for the second time Sylvester has cut in
to Johnny's lead and is now only 7 seconds behind and both have
extended to a good 30 second lead over the following pack. As they
round Heineken is laser focused and is not going to let this one slip
away. By the time he gets to the leeward mark he has extended again
over Sylvester to an 18 second delta. As he tacks to port to go for
the line he clears Sylvester and the race is his. History made. The
first legit win by a Kiteboard in a fair Formula Race. Sylvester
finishes 13 seconds back. The next 3 boards and Heineken all finish
within 45 seconds of the two leaders. The most notable impression I
was left with was that this was fair racing and the two craft
amazingly similar with respect to total performance around the course.
What happened then? The better sailor won. NICE WORK JOHNNY!

Race 3 saw an easing of the wind but was still almost a replay of race
2 with Heineken again taking the bullet, Sylvester again taking second
place and Adam Koch in third.

Race 4 saw Heineken taking advantage of some mistakes by the
windsurfers. With the race seemingly in his back pocket Steve
Sylvester severely understood the leeward mark on the second lap.
"dogging it" slowly all the way down the course he was just trying to
make the mark and avoid the double jibe. With the Ferlet, Mirel, and
Heineken all catching up to Sylvester it would take one more mistake
by Steve to get Johnny by him. After the rounding Sylvester overstood
the finish and Johnny tacked over on the lay line to get Sylvester at
the line for the win. Ferlet, Mirel, and Sylvester than drag raced to
the finish with Mirel also getting the better of Sylvester and Ferlet
just behind them both. As I said earlier this was a sailing race and
mistakes were going to show in your score. Truly impressive to see
such parity from such different gear.

Race 5 showed everyone was pressing really hard. A plethora of white
North Sails were clearly over early but despite horns and screams from
the RC (audible from his lordships) many racers sailed almost a full
lap before realizing a general recall had been issued.

Race 6 (really race 5) saw Adam Koch get in to the action for his best
race of the day taking the bullet. Xavier Ferlet put himself and his
Formula Board between Adam and Johnny Heineken to take second place
and relegating Heineken to third. One board was not going to be enough
to deny Heineken his prize; first place on the day. Xavier Ferlet had
been winning most of the Cal Cup racing so far but was overpowered in
the first 4 races on his 9.5 and 67 cm fin.

A lot of folks in the kiting and windsurf worlds have been trying to
figure out who is faster, kites or windsurfers and this race should
add some fuel to this debate. However the true take away from this
experience was amazingly; the sailors. When I envisioned this article
I always thought it would be equipment focused but as I watched the
racing unfold it was really the sailors that were the story line. The
kiters blended in like they were part of the fleet and given their
skills on their gear a welcome part. There were no problems reported
with tangle ups between kites and windsurfers despite a pretty crowded
start at the starboard end of the start line.

Some notable performances on the day came from Jack Lundquist and Mike
Percy. Percy being 5 months removed from a complete surgical rebuild
of his shoulder and 30 days off a knee surgery showed flashes of his
old self. Having only been on Formula gear a few times removed from
the surgeries he was able to complete all 5 races and put up a few top
5 finishes. Junior racer Jack Lundquist also put up a tremendous
performance in the big breezes. Many full grown men would have retired
under the big wind and big waves of the day but Jack not only
completed all races he even put up a first place result in his fleet
in the days final race.

Days like today a race committee truly earns its stripes. With the
conditions as fierce as they were both Jane Morson and Rachel Hermann
deserve heaps of praise. Bouncing, bashing, and bobbing under a
relentless sea spray makes for a long day. THANKS!

Next Race July 17th. Go to for more information
and to see the complete results. If you're a kiteboarder interested in
competing at Cal Cup you need to apply first. Do so by sending an
email to This e-mail address is being protected
from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it with a brief
sailing resume.

HUGE Photo Gallery Races 2-4 - Click Here.

David Wells
editor, The Ultimate Water Sports Newsletter. 3 Times
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