Kai Lenny: "My focus is winning the Big Wave Tour title"

August 7, 2019 | Surfing
Kai Lenny: he wants the Big Wave Tour title | Photo: Sinton/Red Bull

Hawaiian star Kai Lenny received another accolade in his glittering career when he became the youngest person ever to enter the Surfers' Hall of Fame, aged just 26.

He was inducted with Sam Hawk and Janice Aragon, their hand and footprints immortalized in cement out the front of Huntington Surf & Sport, as the ceremony paid tribute to the stars who have made an indelible mark on the sport, industry, and culture of surfing.

"Today I was inducted into the Surfers Hall of Fame. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined receiving this honor," Lenny said.

Along with his surfing honors, Lenny has won the SUP world title several times and was runner-up at the Kite Surf Pro World Championships while he has become a leading global campaigner in fighting ocean pollution.

Here is what the Maui native had to say after an impressive 2019 season riding the waves:

How was your big wave season in 2019?

For me, the big wave season this year was probably the best I have ever had. We didn't have the most consistent big swells, but some of the most challenging conditions that I could ever remember.

It was a lot of wind, really big waves and very unforgiving. The fact that I was able to survive another season but, at the same time, feel like my level went up a notch meant that I accomplished everything that I set out to do.

Coming into this new season, I am really excited because there is still so much left to be done to go to the next level.

You have said in the past you sometimes felt like an outsider. Is that still the case now?

I think I felt like an outsider growing up mainly because I had my hands in so many different sports and, within each sport or discipline of surfing, there are little tribes that you jump in between.

You are either with the windsurfers, the kitesurfers, the surfers or the stand-up paddlers and when you are not consistently in one, you don't really have a place in any.

I quickly outgrew that mentally, and now I feel comfortable in my own skin, doing what I would rather do. It was a good learning experience growing up.

Kai Lenny: keeping our oceans free from plastics | Photo: Mann/Red Bull

After winning so many big titles so early in your career, what is your main focus now?

For me, right now, my focus is on winning a Big Wave world title on the Big Wave Tour (BWT). I have been able to win a lot of different things across a few sports.

For me, each event is not so much beating someone else but kind of proving to myself that, "OK, I have reached this certain point and where can I go next?"

Winning is just basically having a lot of fun doing it and my goals, for sure, are always to try to be the best I can possibly be and that requires me testing myself against the world's best consistently.

What is it about the ocean that makes you so happy?

The sea makes me so happy because it is a place that I can constantly test myself, but also enjoy myself. It is always there. It is for free.

I grew up doing it for so long that it is who I am now. Imagining not being in the water is almost worse than going to jail, just because it feels like it is built into my cells.

The saltwater feels really good, just being immersed in it and all that other stuff sort of melts away that you take from land.

You are a shining star when it comes to environmental issues. What more needs to be done to help save our oceans?

Growing up, I have noticed the changes in the ocean, mostly pollution and microplastics. Now, with so many people around the world just spewing stuff into the ocean, there are a lot of fish that are consuming microplastics, which is morphing into their DNA.

That is going to go back into us and, if we don't want to have cancer later on in life from fish, I suggest that we try to keep the oceans much cleaner.

We have got to protect the environment because we are part of it. If it goes down, we are getting dragged with it too.


Interview by Red Bull

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