It turned out to be well worth the long drive to Squamish for kiteboarder Johnny Heineken.
The San Francisco native took home first place and a $1300 cash prize for placing first in the 2011 Canadian National Open and said he enjoyed his debut in Squamish.
"It was awesome," he said, of the event which concluded on Sunday (Aug. 7). "The breeze was consistent all weekend and it was windy the whole time. It's a really good venue that you guys have out here and there was tons of top guys racing so it's nice to win."
Heineken won the Kiteboarding World Championships in Germany on July 3 and was one of several top names to attend this year's local race. He said he was convinced to compete after talking to local racers Stefano Rista and Kyle Touhey.
"We were told this place was good from Kyle and Stefano and it's always nice to race in a new place," he said. "The locals really took good care of us and it was a fun weekend."
He said that the course racing scene is growing and that Squamish could really put themselves on the map with this event.
"When we go back home, anyone who doesn't know about Squamish will know now," he said.
Heineken wasn't the only member of his family that walked away a winner, as his sister Erika Heineken took home first place in the Women's Open division. Both Heineken's said they hope to be back for next year's race.
Second place in the men's division went to Adam Koch of Seattle, followed by Bryan Lake from San Francisco. Fourth place went to the top Canadian, Adam Vance while fifth place was local racer Stefano Rista.
The runners up in the women's division was another family connection, as Alexis and Kaila Aguera from Hawaii finished second and third respectively.
The Canadian Championships were also determined from the same races, as Vance took home the men's award, followed by Rista and Colin Ernst. Jessica Sikinger from Ontario won the women's division.
Ernst, who competed and helped organized the event, praised the work of volunteers and competitors prior to the awards ceremony on Sunday.
"This weekend was full of what I would call epic racing," he said. "I want to thank the international competitors who came here on our trust that it was good racing out here and, of course, all of our great volunteers. This event is going to grow and get bigger and I think today really helps us gain significance of what this event is."
Men's and women's open racers competed in nine races in total, with four taking place on Saturday (Aug. 6) and five taking place on Sunday. The event also had a freestyle and slalom event on Friday (Aug. 5).
Squamish's J.M. Tremblay picked up the win for freestyle, while Alexis Aguera picked up the win for the women. Lane Mullard of Squamish won first place in the men's slalom, followed by Alex Aguera and Kevin Bono. For the women, Kaila Aguera finished first, with Ontario's Jessica Sikinger in second and the Okanagan's Rainbow Monds in third.
For more information and full results, visit www.squamishwindsports.com.