You’re probably not surprised to hear Kai Lenny aspires to be the best big wave surfer on the planet. But hearing the words come out of his mouth give the thought some added weight and perspective.
What does it mean to be the best big wave surfer alive? Is it winning paddle events at Jaws or tow events at Nazare? Is it as straightforward as bagging the biggest wave of a season or perhaps the biggest wave ever ridden? Realistically, we all understand there’s no single metric for determining the best anything in surfing, even if its competitive arenas crown champions. There’s just too many good surfers out there riding waves a million different ways.
So…is Kai Lenny the best big wave surfer on the planet? Red Bull’s new Life of Kai docuseries doesn’t give a definitive answer to that. Instead, it pushes us towards questions like this: What will Kai Lenny be doing on waves once he reaches his prime? How much further will he (and otheres) push the boundaries of the sport? He’s an athlete with a clear obsession as well as somebody who doesn’t think in the same box as most of the surfing world. Like Laird at the turn of the century, Kai Lenny is innovating, and he’s clearly pushing that magic progression word. Whereas much of big wave surfing is filled with taking off deep and outrunning an avalanche of whitewater, Lenny sees an open wave face for drawing new lines and pulling maneuvers we once thought only possible on head-high waves. He looks at his equipment differently. He rides foils at Nazare — not just during flat spells on Maui — because he believes one day they’ll put him on the biggest wave man’s ever ridden.
Watch the new Life of Kai series on Red Bull TV here.