Erika Heineken - Pressure Drop Interview
Courtesy of http://www.pressure-drop.us/
Living in the shadow of her little brother, kiteboarding course racing world champion, Johnny Heineken no longer, 26 year old Erika leaves an impressive wake for others to follow. Dominating most males in the local Race Series hosted every other Thursday Night at the StFYC, where she currently sits in 3rd overall of the season in a field of 40 something competitors, as well as placing high on the results list for the Elvstrom and Ultra Nectar Challenge events, Erika has climbed the ladder fast.
“She really turned it up a notch this year” Says Robbie Dean, Race Director for the StFYC” She just might be the best female course racer in the world right now”. The StFYC is where Kiteboard Course Racing was born, and consistantly provides the best conditions and the most talented sailors to compete. 4 of the regulars, Andrew Koch, Adam Koch, Bryan Lake and brother Johhny are podium regulars on the world circuit.
Started sailing at age?
EH:1 month at Tinsley Island
Various boats you have sailed on competitively?
EH: 29er and other various college sailing boats
Windsurfed for how long?
EH: 2 years
Started kiteboarding when?
EH:3.5 years ago
What possessed you to cease with the 29er and move onto kites?
EH: It had been a few years since I raced 29ers when I started kite racing. After learning to kite, and watching Johnny excel in the race scene, I knew I had to join the fun. Since racing in college, I haven’t felt passionate enough to do any competitive sailing, and kite racing is not only a great competitive outlet, it’s the most progressive type of sailing internationally, and I think it’s the most fun!
1st course race?
EH: April 2011. Last April was my first ride on a raceboard up at Sherman. I borrowed the board and fins from Chip so I would be about to get out on the water for the first race of the Cabrinha series. I’m pretty sure I got DFL.
Intimidation factor when 1st hitting the start line for 1st time?
EH: I just tried not to get in anyone’s way or screw anyone up. I definitely didn’t have the kite control to be up with the fleet, so just hung back till it was clear
Who’s been the biggest mentor thus far?
EH: The whole Crissy crew! I learn something from talking to everyone. I can’t say there’s only one mentor. Since the first kite races, about 7 years ago, they guys in our fleet have continued to develop and progress our sport. So many have been around since the beginning, so the depth of knowledge amongst us is endless.
Worst kite mare?
EH: There was a day this April when we cancelled the scheduled Cabrinha kite races for the night because it was blowing 20kts from the south. So of course most of us booked it to Ocean Beach to do a few mile downwinder from Sloat to GGP. I stupidly chose this day to ride my surfboard strapless at OB for the first time. I dropped my kite in the surf at one point, and it was all good until my lines got wrapped around a crab pot. Luckily Johnny was there to coach me into releasing everything and swimming to shore. I gave him my knife and he cut my kite free from the mess. Lesson learned, never ever drop your kite in the surf, and I learned the hard way that particular day.
Firmly grounded with a real job, as a mechanical engineer for the City of San Francisco DPW, Erika stays mostly at home to compete.
“Why leave here?” She says “We really have the best conditions you can find in the world in our own backyard”
Erika’s talent will be challenged next week, as the StFYC hosts the 2012 North Americans, which has 60 of the best kiters from the US, Mexico, Canada, Brazil,, England, France, Columbia and Finland in town to test their mettle, with racing beginning in earnest on Thursday and running through Sunday at Crissy Field. First gun is 2:00 PM!