Senior Editor

The Inertia

Kai Lenny has created a pretty insane niche in the surfing world. Basically, he gets to ride any wave he wants, on any piece of equipment, and he doesn’t have to compete full time. He can just surf giant waves, or ride open ocean wind swell or fly to Switzerland and foil behind a boat, which he did recently.

“I kind of compare where I’m at right now to a river: it curves and winds as it goes downstream,” he told me. “I’m kind of going with the flow, here. I’m definitely in a good position and my sponsors are supporting anything I want to do.”

And in May, what he wanted to do was get out on the Kaiwi Channel between Molokai and Oahu with world champ John John Florence, another great water athlete who has it pretty good (but in a different way).

“He loves foiling,” says Lenny, who got Florence into the fledgling sport this winter, when they hatched the plan to get out in the channel. “All the guys I’ve been doing it with, they’re all really interested in the open ocean part of it. John John loves to sail. He pictures himself sailing around the world and using the hydrofoil to surf in the middle of the ocean. It’s cool to have someone like him get into it.”

Both are obviously Hurley athletes. And when the boys hatched the plan, the sponsor wanted in, too. Hence the branding. And then the side bets started: John John’s sailboat versus Kai on his foil in a downwind race. This little snippet doesn’t reveal the winner but Lenny says it was anything but a contest: “The boat is a mono hull so it wasn’t really a fair fight, he said. “If he would have had a multi-hulled catamaran it would have been more fair.” The sailboat couldn’t really keep up with Lenny on a foil. The surfing world is sort of running into the same problem.

Kai Lenny is currently in the final editing stages of his new film, Paradigm Lost. Stay tuned for more.


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