Johnny Heineken - Foiling Summer - Bridge to Bridge record & 1st California State Champs
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What a season! Lots of kiting, learning, falling, and some bruises….big bruises. Since the Canadian Nationals in July I’ve been focusing on riding my new foil and learning how to get this thing around the racecourse. It’s been a ton of fun being on the steep part of the learning curve again. The feeling of making the first couple foiling tacks and gybes got me fully hooked.
When the annual Ronstan Bridge to Bridge Race came around in September I knew I had to try it on the foil. This is a downwind race from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Bay Bridge (about 6 miles) that all about optimizing equipment for downwind, and pushing yourself to the edge of explosion, but not beyond. Windsurfers, 18ft Skiffs, and kites have all won it in the past.. Last year we had pretty epic conditions and I set the course record at 14 minutes 14 seconds on a courseboard with small fins.
This summer I learned that foils can be faster downwind…the trick is staying upright. Just before the start of the race I did some downwind runs well powered on my 7m Edge. It felt like the right kite for the conditions, but I wanted to be overpowered for this race so I ran in and grabbed my 9m Edge off the beach and sailed lit up to the start line.
The start was crazy. There were 70 entries on the line with inconsistent breeze and not that much space. Bernie match raced me a little so I had to slow down and dive behind and below him. On our Sword foils we both extended and it was clear the race was between the two of us. I was a little deeper on my 9 compared to his 7 and eventually pulled away. The wind was south enough that we never had to gybe, making it true record setting conditions. Down by Alcatraz the breeze built and the chop jacked up. I had extended from the fleet and knew I had a good time going but was on the edge trying to keep it together. Somehow I kept the foil in the water and never exploded. What a relief! 12 minutes flat…more than 2 minutes off the record. Sweet!
With foil fever in full effect in SF, Robbie Dean agreed to run a foilboard course racing event at the St. Francis YC. We were fortunate to have four good French sailors come over, including Remi Delahaye who makes the Sword Foils. This was awesome for us because we’ve been sailing on our own and have no idea how we’re going compared to the guys who’ve been foiling for a long time. In three days we sailed 12 races in everything from 10kts to low 20s. The range of equipment and abilities was huge, and that was part of the fun. Everyone is progressing really rapidly and having a great time.
My speed was good all around the course but I was really able to excel in maneuvers and starting. It’s amazing how much you can gain by nailing a foiling tack when the other guy touches down and takes a second to accelerate again. I ended the event with 10 bullets in 12 races and some really good experience going around the course close to a bunch of other foils. I’m looking forward to a lot more of this…