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Interview-Johnny Heineken and Riccardo Leccese

Posted on by Andrew

A few days ago we sat down and did an interview with the current world champion Johnny Heineken and current IKA world ranked racer #1 Riccardo Lecesse find out a few interesting things about their kite racing.

Johnny and Rikki are both riding Ozone Kites, Mikes Lab Boards and Tectonics Fins. The two guys are the fastest racers out there and we were eager to find out what they up to. Johnny has a few crazy busy weeks so we really appreciated him taking this time talking to us.

Enjoy the two interview and feel free to comment on their answers below.

Johnny Heineken – World Champion

World Champion Johnny HeinekenJohnny is man to beat because he has won the last 2 world kite racing championship in racing so far and has not lost a single regatta he has attended yet. He rides out of the legendary San Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco and trains mostly in his home water in Crissy Fields.

Hi Johnny,

First of all congrats to the recent win at the annual Bridge to Bridge race in San Francisco bin a record time of 12 mins.

Q: do you do any leg strength/ endurance training off the water and if so, what works for you?

JH: I don’t…probably should though. I find that kiting is the best way to get in shape for kiting. But I’m lucky because there’s wind everyday at home so I don’t have to stay occupied waiting for sailable conditions.

Q: what is the best tactical or strategic decision you have made in a kite race?

JH: That’s a hard one. Everything happens so quickly in kite racing It’s really about making a ton of good decisions in a row without much time to think about any of them…

Q: How does a perfect start look for you?

JH: Going fast with clean air 1 minute after the gun goes off….

Q: describe the most interesting protest you’ve been involved with.

JH: O man I hate going to the room…

Q: Should we be opening up the box design more to allow innovation in racing boards to be similar to the ac72 foils or leave it as is. Are kite foils the future?

JH: I think the good thing about the raceboard class is that the playing field is pretty even with equipment right now. While I love the development part of the sport, it is too much to have people showing up with new boards and kites at each event. I think the box rule is a healthy way to go for now and we should ask ourselves this question again in another year.

Foils are definitely part of the future, but they don’t mix well on the racecourse with course boards. I think these classes will continue to grow in parallel and will open up the racing scene to even more competitors.

Q: Do you use any technical gear while training – ie gps, compass, speed reader? Or do you just use training partners to assess?

How many times a week do you train? And for how long? How long have you been doing that for?

JH:I just try to get a lot of time on the water with good training partners. I don’t find using a GPS that helpful, especially in San Francisco where the conditions are so variable.

Q: Do you subscribe to “no business time” the night before a big race?

JH: Not sure what this is…

Q: Few thoughts about Foil vs Raceboard?

JH: Both are going to continue to grow. I’m stoked to be a part of each scene now. The reason you’ve seen me in the foil world lately is because I’ve just really got going on my first high performance foil setup and I’m having a lot of fun being on the steep part of the learning curve again.

Q: what is your favourite dish?

JH: Chicken pesto Pizza

Q:what is your favourite beer?

JH:Is this a setup? You want me to say Heineken don’t you…I enjoy the local favorite wherever we travel.

Q: Whats your favourite kite size to race on?

JH: Lately I’ve been on a 7m everyday with my foil, but I think my go-to kite right now on a raceboard is my 10m Ozone Edge. That thing is magical! Raced the entire North American’s on it this year and won the event!

Thanks for your time Johnny and all the best for the world championships defending your title.

JH: Cheers dude I see you at the World Championships in China.

Riccardo Leccese – IKA World Ranked Racer Number 1

IKA world ranked racer Number 1 Riccardo LecesseRiccardo Lecesse has been the worlds ranked number number 1 racer for almost a year now and is an amazing athlete that takes his professional racing very serious.

Hi Rikki how are you? Thanks for taking the time to have a chat with me today.

Q: do you do any leg strength/ endurance training off the water and if so, what works for you?

Rikki: oh yes ! My own nature instincts is doing sport since i can remember !! I’m really close to mountain biking and sea swimming ! I’m a really early guy 5.30am I’m on my way up the hills ! that’s just the beginning of my day !! no GYM it sucks ! I like military training, I do all of push and pull Up bars !

Q: what is the best tactical or strategic decision you have made in a kite race?

Rikki: no matter what ! be on the starting at 5min 0 sec when green flag goes Up, always do Your own race, use Your strengths that will get You in a better position to finish it clean!

Q: How does a perfect start look for you? i already said it ! be at 5min 0sec on the starting line, kite low, feet on the foodstraps pushing the rails ! don’t worry if You are not stick to the starting boat ! definitely that is not a good position to be !

Q: describe the most interesting protest you’ve been involved with.

Rikki: I don’t keep a track of my protest ! I don’t like to be involve in any !! I’m really stick to rules if i do a mistake i just assume it so it goes easy through the judges ! but i can remember this year at the North Americas, tangle at the starting line, I got two days in running the protest, watching videos with the ISAF rule book on my hands ! at the end i got my redress and some guys penalized

Q: Should we be opening up the box design more to allow innovation in racing boards to be similar to the ac72 foils or leave it as is. Are foils the future?

Rikki: I would love open box rule ! that would make my ride faster ! that is what with love ! with this tight box rule i feel the sport is going backwards.

Foil are getting stronger but we should see it as two different disciplines, it is not cleaver to compare !!

I do foil ! i do like it ! but in real life you can’t compare two girlfriends !! =P

Q: Do you use any technical gear while training – ie gps, compass, speed reader? Or do you just use training partners to assess?

Rikki: oh yeah, i do use technology !!! it is the most advance You can get in the market ! it is called The Bunny, real name Alvaro Cadena he dam fast !

Q:How many times a week do you train? And for how long? How long have you been doing that for?

Rikki: i have been kitting for almost 12 years now ! 4 years ago it started to be as my job so i quit everything else i was doing to be able to kite every single days Yijiiiii time off is whem I’m on the plane …. TO GO KITING AGAIN !!! hahaha

my name is Riccardo I’m a kite addict ! i haven’t been sober for 12 years !

Q: Do you subscribe to “no business time” the night before a big race?

Rikki: definitely no alcohol or going late to sleep before a contest, i just get to focus ! but my bird keeps working ! haha

never say no to a lady that wants you ! you will regret it. last year in Germany i was with my German girlfriend we make love every morning i won races and end Up 2nd over all !!

Q: good stuff buddy. I know the same worked for you at the South/Middle American Championships 😉

Q: Mate a few thoughts about Foil vs Raceboard?

Rikki: what about 2 spectacular stunning girls ! one brunette one blonde ! which one will you choose ! im sure you would like to ride them both !! haha ! same with this two division ! both are very fast and very fun to ride !

Q: YES! You are like the Freud of kite racing buddy.

Rikki:Yes but faster. ha

Q: what is your favourite dish?

Rikki: Italian cuisine is the best for me, i like to cook home style it is more tasty and healthy !! When to a going Restaurant … i choose SUSHI yeah !!!!

Q:what is your favourite beer?

Rikki: any beer !! beer is beer at party time !!

Q: Whats your favourite kite size to race on?

Rikki: from 9 to 11 it is the perfect balance to be challenged, race looks fast, sea looks with reasonable attitude, You get fast manoeuvres !

Q: Favorite spot ?

Rikki: it would be to silly if i say back home ! but side of ride all over Colombia, i will highly suggest go Maui it is crazy windy and it is super fun going nuts on Your 7m ! We will have the 2014 South/Middle American Championships at my home spot. Come and visit its amazing there.

Good on ya Rikki! Best of luck for the world championships. The Australian Kite racing community is super excited for you to come over here to do the kite race clinics with us and race at Sail Melbourne, The OceanicsWA and the Red Bull L2L Race.

Rikki: I can’t wait to come over, it has always been a dream of mine since I was a child to visit Australia.

Marv: Cool as and The Australian ladies are excited to meet you Rikki!

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