You know, don’t you, that Kai Lenny likes to go fast. It should come as no surprise then that he’s a big F1 fan. Some of those funny little tweaks he makes to his surfboards directly stem from car racing technology. A few months ago, I called him up to ask about a strange set of finlets on the back of his surfboards. “If you look on the back of every fast race car — whether it’s a street car or a Formula 1 car — you’ll see these diffusers coming off the back,” he told me. “What they do on the fastest cars on the planet is take that air flow, that turbulence from the car, and it makes it go straight. We applied it to surfing, with obviously a few adjustments, and the results were pretty crazy.”
But what you might not know is that Kai Lenny is so interested in F1 that he learned to drive an F1 car… in just a over a week. It was a virtual car, but still, it’s impressive. He learned for a good reason: in May, Lenny was invited to compete in the Virtual F1 Monaco Grand Prix, which is not something that anyone in their right mind could refuse.
“If you’ve ever wondered why all of Kai’s boards follow the same blue and red design,” wrote the World Surf League’s Bryan Benattou, “it’s all because of his affinity with F1. His entire quiver, including shortboards, foils, tow in boards, and guns have the same racing style, acting as a competitive motivator for him.”
After his training, his results weren’t up to his usual competitive standards, but that’s to be expected from a guy who just learned how to drive an F1 car racing against some of the best drivers in the world. The learning curve is similar to surfing, though.
“If you’re learning how to surf and you start in Waikiki beach but then you get a wildcard to go to the Pipeline Masters, you’re not going to be able to do it,” Lenny said. “Not in a week at least. It would be a dream come true to drive a real formula one car.”