Stab Magazine | The Fantastic Mr. Lenny Is The Fastest Man On Water
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The Fantastic Mr. Lenny Is The Fastest Man On Water

Kai and the curious case of the never ending ride.

news // Jul 18, 2018
Words by Jake Howard
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Last weekend Kai Lenny entered the Maui to Molokai paddle race. He finished the 27-mile channel crossing in two hours and 17 minutes, shattering the record by about an hour.

He says this just a warm-up for the Molokai to Oahu race coming up in two weeks and that he’s really gunning for that record.

Stab caught up with Kai while he was momentarily cruising at home on Maui. Here’s what you need to know about his next feat:

On breaking the Maui to Molokai record…

I don’t know what the exact time of the previous record, but basically, I was able to beat the record by about an hour with a time of two hours and 17 minutes. But it’s funny, I think with a little bit better conditions you can do it way faster.

That channel’s pretty cool because there’s always swell and the winds, starting off, blow towards Molokai. When you get towards Molokai the swells get really big and you can actually get double-overhead sized swells– the bigger the swell the faster you’re going to go. It’s just wind swell from all the trade winds that push through the channel. The trick is that you want it as windy as possible.

On his upcoming pursuit of the Molokai to Oahu record…

This was kind of a training run for me for the Molokai to Oahu race in two weeks. This race was a good test run for me. The Molokai to Oahu race is the one I really want to break the record on. I believe if you can do it under three hours that would break the record for all kinds of paddle craft. That’s my goal.

Last year, it kind of worked out perfect. I wanted to do the foil for Molokai to Oahu, but they didn’t want me to do it within the paddleboard race, but then the Puerto Escondido contest ran the same time as the race, so I did that instead I ended up doing that and winning. It was perfect. And now this year they’ve decided they want to include a foil race and there are currently 10 or 11 people signed up. I’m hoping more sign-up just because it’s so fun.

On how one foils for two or three hours straight without stopping…

It’s a technique. Depending on the foil you use you can burn yourself out. You’re going so fast. You can reach up to 25 miles an hour downwind and your average speed is like 15 miles an hour. It really feels like a never-ending wave where you’re always dropping in. This last race, for two hours and 17 minutes it just felt like I was dropping into a wave, and that’s what’s crazy. I think that’s why I love it so much.

You’re not riding one wave the whole time, you’re riding multiple little waves, but the glide. It feels like the best workout when you’re done, but it’s one of those sports that’s so fun that you don’t realize how tired you’re getting. You just have a smile from ear to ear.

I would say out of all the paddling sports it’s the most forgiving. It’s not like your hitting chop and getting jolted all the time. It’s almost like having suspension on a car and it just absorbs the bumps. And when you pump it’s like going down the line of a wave. It comes down to connecting the dots, just like in surfing. If you’re able to connect the dots you don’t need to hop your board. It doesn’t require a lot of energy, just a lot of focus and technique.

On his equipment…

Basically, if I’m riding my foil in the surf I’ll ride my 4’8”. In a race like Maui to Molokai I chose to take the 5’8” just in case I fell off and needed to power back up. For assurance, really. I knew the chances of me going down were less than five-percent, and if I did go down I could work really hard to get the 5’8” back up out of the water. It’s an inch shorter than my normal shortboard.

Hopefully, all of the records that I’ve been able to set, I’m going to be the one to break them immediately because the development of the foil is moving so fast. The potential to go fast and do bigger and greater things, that’s the funnest part of all this.

On the rumor that John John Florence may paddle the Molokai to Oahu race…

I think that would be awesome. He should totally do it. He’s one of the fastest paddling surfers in the world. He’s injured, but on a prone paddle board, you know, you’re not standing up. It’s going to keep him super fit for when he makes his crazy return to the tour.

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