For the second consecutive year, the Heinekens cleaned up at the West Coast Open and Canadian national kiteboard racing championships.
The three-day event concluded on Sunday (Aug. 6), with Johnny Heineken and his sister Erika Heineken from San Francisco taking home the top prize money in their respective categories.
But what appeared to be on everyone's mind was the inclusion of the sport in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
“It's a new and exciting sport, but hopefully they get a good venue,” Johnny said to a group assembled after he was awarded the top prize. “A lot of it depends on equipment selection and if it goes to one design class, that would really hurt some of the smaller companies that have supported this sport and helped build it.”
Bryan Lake, who finished second in the open, said he's unsure if it's a good or bad thing for his sport.
“If they go to one design for the Olympics, it's going to kill the smaller companies and everyone will get cut out,” he said, noting that the one design route would also damage the pro tour. “We've got guys making a living doing this as a professional and things might really change if the Olympics go to one design.”
He admitted that the sport's popularity has grown since the announcement.
“There seems to be more and more people jumping on the bandwagon,” the San Diego resident said. “But for me it's all about just doing it for you. I would do the Olympics if I got picked, but it's really hard to say what the Olympics version of kiteboarding will be.”
Jessica Sickinger, who placed second in the open and first in the Canadian division, said it all depends on what happens in the next few years.
“It's still a long ways away for us,” she said. “It's a bit of a mixed bag, hopefully it's a good thing for us, but we really don't know many details right now.”
Sickinger beat out Catherine Dufour and Rainbow Monds to finish as the top Canadian, while Stefano Rista won the top Canadian in the men's division ahead of Adam Vance and Ric Ernst. Rista also placed third in the open men's division.
Race director Mark Leng said he was pleased with how the weekend went.
“The competition was fierce all weekend and there were lots of battles out there,” he said. “But it was a fantastic weekend and I want to thank all the racers and our sponsors.”
According to Lake, one of the true winners on the weekend was Squamish itself.
“It's an amazing spot you guys have here,” he said. “We get to travel and compete all over the world and this is definitely one of the most unique places. The wind blew hard and strong all weekend and everybody was super friendly.”
The next big event for many of the competitors will be the 2012 Course Racing World Championships in Italy in October.
For complete results from the event, visit www.squamishwindsports.com.