In the Hawaiian language Kai means ocean, and Kai Lenny certainly lives up to his name. Born on Maui to parents who loved to surf and windsurf, Kai has grown up at the beach.
Kai Lenny is one of the world’s most complete watermen. Be it kiteboarding, windsurfing, stand-up paddleboarding, big-wave surfing, or anything else in the water, Kai does it, and does it well.
Kai learned how to surf at the age of 4, windsurf at 6, stand up surf at 7 and kite surf at 9. Learning how to do these sports all happened naturally, and from it grew his love affair with the ocean and the waves.
He’s had an impressive lineup of mentors: windsurfing legend Robby Naish and big-wave veterans Laird Hamilton and Dave Kalama have been some of Kai’s most dynamic teachers.
He’s done the gruelling 32-mile Molokai to Oahu paddle many times, was a veteran on the Professional Windsurfing Association World Wave Tour, has been runner-up at the Kite Surf Pro World Championships, and he’s won the SUP World Title six times and counting.
In This Episode
- His parents leading by example rather than telling him what to do
- Learning to rise to the occasion from an early age
- Not being afraid to stand out
- Fighting perfectionism
- The difference between achievement and purpose
- Nature understanding him the way people can’t
- The powerful relationship he shares with music
- When time stands still among the waves
- What it’s like surfing Mavericks
- The space between hesitation and commitment
- Finding flow in the water
- Setting goals and working harder than anyone else around him
- How he keeps calm under water after a wipeout
- Wishing he could turn it on and off better
- Emotions as his greatest gift and downfall
“Showing by example is better than telling someone what to do.”
“In surf sports, it’s about being more relaxed. The harder you push the slower you go. If you just relax and lighten your feet and approach, you’re going to be doing stuff you wouldn’t be doing otherwise.”
“The most calm feeling I ever have is right before I drop into something chaotic.”
On being inside the barrel of a big wave: “In that moment nothing else exists, which is the best feeling in the world.”
“The more pressure I get, the better I become.”
“I’ve never been scared of death because I figure it’s inevitable.”
“Mastery is being able to let go.”
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