Johnny Heineken

Johnny Heineken

I grew up on and around the water. My dad, Paul Heineken, is a windsurfer and sailor, and from a young age I began to follow in his footsteps. When I was 13, he and I began racing a 29er skiff together. In 2005, when I was 16 years old, Matt Noble and I finished 3rd in the 29er World Championship held at the StFYC. Matt and I then moved on to the next level high-performance skiff, the Olympic Class 49er. With the help of the Foundation, we competed in World Championships in Portugal and Australia, as well as the 2007-2008 US Olympic Trials, in which we finished fifth. After that intensive year, it became clear that world level sailing in an Olympic Class and being a full time UCSB mechanical engineering student were incompatible, so I took a hiatus from 49er sailing, while I continued to captain the UCSB sailing team. In 2008, UCSB captured the Pacific Coast College Championship and I received All-PCC Team honors. But racing high-performance sailboats has always been a major part of my life, so once I was introduced to kiteboard course racing, I was hooked. Since then I have had continued success, winning the World Championship in 2011 and 2012, and finishing second out of 111 competitors in 2013. I have been honored with the 2012 Rolex Yachtsman of the Year award, and have been a finalist for the 2013 Rolex World Sailor of the Year award.

The most sailing fun I’ve had this past year is learning how to ride a foil kiteboard. The StFYC sponsored the first ever North American Kite Foilboard regatta this fall on the Bay, which I won. My training video has received quite a bit of attention.

In real life, I now work full-time as an engineer with Makani Power, a high-tech startup that was recently purchased by GoogleX. Makani is developing autonomous tethered flying vehicles (kites) to generate electric power. In addition, I work with Chip Wasson and Mike Zajicek on kite board development. Thanks to the St Francis Sailing Foundation, I’ve been able to participate in a number of international events.  The Foundation has been crucial in helping me accomplish my sailing goals. I am very grateful.


1st Course Racing World Championships 2012 – Cagliari, Italy
1st Ronstan Bridge to Bridge Race 2012 – San Francisco, CA            (Course Record time of 14:14)
1st Canadian National Championships 2012 – Squamish, BC
1st North American Championships 2012 – San Francisco, CA
3rd PKRA Germany 2012 – St. Peter Ording, Germany
1st PKRA Turkey 2012 – Burc Beach, Turkey
3rd PKRA France 2012 – Hyeres, France
1st PKRA Mexico 2012 – Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
1st Regatta Copa Mexico 2012 – Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Lord of the Wind Showdown 2012 – Los Barriles, Mexico
1st Course Racing and ”The Showdown” Long Distance Race
2nd Slalom
1st La Ventana Classic 2012  “The Crossing”- La Ventana, Mexico
2nd La Ventana Classic 2012  Course Racing- La Ventana, Mexico
1st La Ventana Slalom Race Series- La Ventana, Mexico
1st of 62, 2011 Course Racing World Championships – Sylt, Germany
1st 2011 PKRA Germany – St. Peter Ording,Germany
1st 2011 North American Championships – San Juan, Puerto Rico
1st Canadian National Championships- Squamish, BC                  (Open Division)
1st PKRA Mexico 2011-Playa del Carmen
1st La Ventana Classic 2011-“The Crossing”
1st Lord of the Wind 2011- Los Barriles, Baja
1st 2010 PKRA World Cup Racing -Bariloche, Argentina
4th 2010 World Championships -Corpus Christi, TX
6th 2010 North American Championships-Puerto Vallarta
3rd 2009 World Championships-San Francisco


The FoundationJohnny Heineken