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Heineken takes West Coast Open kiteboard competition

Kiteboarders preparing to make their Olympic debut in 2016 at Rio
SOLO SAIL West Coast Open Kiteboard champion Johnny Heineken (centre) celebrates his first place finish with second place winner Brian Lake (left) and third place finisher Stefano Rista.

When it comes to beer Johnny Heineken of San Francisco isn't reaching for the Dutch brew that shares his name.

The winner of the West Coast Open Kiteboarding Championships in Squamish declared at the event awards ceremony that the event sponsor is his favourite beer. With a bottle of Pacific Pilsner in hand, Heineken accepted his first place prize package that included a bottle of champagne and a cheque for $1,000.

Heineken, 24, won the event last year as well and is currently at the top of his game, ranked number one in the world according to the International Kiteboarding Association (IKA ) course race rankings. Adam Lake is ranked number two in the IKA world.

The West Coast Open results played out pretty close to the world rankings.

Lake finished second and took home $500 while Canadian Stefano Rista collected $250 for placing third.

Rista's world ranking is number 33 and in addition to placing third in the open competition, he was declared the top finisher in the Canadian National Championships and took home prize money for that accomplishment.

The top Canadian woman of the event was Jessica Sickinger of Toronto. Sickinger was ranked seventh in the world going into the Squamish event and she also placed second in the women's open behind Erica Heineken.

The sister of Johnny Heineken was ranked 14th going into the course race event on Howe Sound.

Kiteboarding is due to become an Olympic sport in 2016 when the Summer Games are to be held in Rio de Janeiro.

The men's champion said after the event that his sister has a better chance of qualifying for the Olympics than he does because she is competing at a much higher level than any other American female kiteboard riders.

"Erica is up here competing with the top guys," Heineken said of his sister's races in Squamish."

The world's top ranked kiteboard rider said he really likes racing at the Squamish event.

"The locals are really competitive," he said. "Pretty much it is about as competitive a fleet as you can get in the word. I was just happy to pull it together and started the event really strong and then kept sailing pretty consistently."

Heineken said the Squamish event was the last big competition before the world championships in October. He added that he learned a few things at the event last weekend that will help him prepare for the international competition in Cagliari, Italy.