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The Inertia

Learn more about The Ocean Warrior Course here. Typically, the class is available for more than $400, but for a limited time, they’re offering it to The Inertia readers for $99. Check it out now if you’re curious.


Kai Lenny is hellbent on pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in the ocean. In November, he captured our imaginations by pulling off a 20-footish airdrop at Jaws after the WSL canceled its Big Wave World Tour event, because the surf was…well, too big. Last month, he pushed the limits at Maverick’s and released this gem of an edit, fittingly entitled, Black Walls of Doom. As it turns out, Lenny isn’t entirely crazy. He prepares for these heavy situations. And recently, he’s turned to big wave surfer Mark Visser and Shane Dorian, who worked together to develop The Ocean Warrior Course, to make sure he’s up for the challenge.

“Being in the ocean my entire life, you think that you’ve heard everything,” says Lenny. “But just the most simple, basic things that make huge differences are what caught my eye. Simple techniques that make a huge difference are what I was blown away by. It’s taking all these small components that make a big difference–that’s what I felt through Mark’s teaching.”

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The course, which we tested out (as did Kelly Slater) while on the North Shore in December, takes a multi-disciplined approach to ocean safety and preparation for surf, no matter the size.

“A lot of times, it’s not the biggest waves that take you out,” says Lenny of The Ocean Warrior Course. “It’s the smallest waves. Just being prepared, and not even just for yourself. I can rely on my training while I save them to get them back to shore or back to their equipment. In small waves you let your guard down. In big waves, your guard is up.”

Visser, the wildman who famously surfed Jaws at night, was motivated to develop this course to address his own fears. He almost drowned as a child and was terrified of water after that experience. He confronted his demons head-on. Now he’s putting elite athletes through the paces.

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Visser says the course is designed to increase breath hold in simulated situations during surfing, help with mental and physical preparation, and train surfers with CPR, rescue, and basic first-aid skills. All things he believes are essential for any surfer.

“Anything that can just help you have confidence in the water and make you calmer in the lineup around other people is a good thing,” said Kelly Slater after testing out The Ocean Warrior Course. “It doesn’t matter if you’re surfing big waves.”

Most importantly, says Lenny, the course helps you control your brain when everything goes wrong: “It gives you confidence in your ability to survive. You stop overthinking that fear complex about the unknown. You’re still scared. I’m still scared, but the difference is that the unknown is known. The answer is that you can handle it, and that you’ve been through it…It comes down to knowing it in the back of your head so if the time ever comes, you’re ready.”

Learn more about The Ocean Warrior Course here. Typically, the class is available for more than $400, but for a limited time, they’re offering it to The Inertia readers for $99. Check it out now if you’re curious.

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