With the immense progress standup paddling has made in the past few years, it’s easy to forget that our sport is still young. Unlike surfing, whitewater or outrigger paddling, there isn’t a generation of athletes that have known SUP since birth, or lived an entire life around our sport. But, as SUP continues to flourish, the first generation of groms to grow up with paddle and board are maturing and writing their own history- becoming the legends that future generations of paddlers will look up to and strive to emulate. In SUP magazine’s ongoing series, Grom Talk, we get to know the first generation of paddlers lucky enough to grow up with an SUP lifestyle.
In this installment of Grom Talk, we get Maui boy Ridge Lenny on the record. The younger of the Lenny boys and 4 years Kai‘s junior, Ridge is a ripper in everything ocean sports, from SUP to standup body boarding. The grom does it all for fun now, but one thing’s for sure: Ridge has serious hopes of edging out his world champion brother one day. —SC
Tell us about your athletic background.
I grew up in a family that always went to the beach, so I really didn’t have a choice, it was either learn the sport or sit on the beach. I’ve known how to bodyboard for as long as I can remember, started surfing when I was 3, windsurfing when I was 4, standup when I was 5 years old, and when I was 13 I learned how to kite surf.
How’d you get into SUP?
When I was really young I would watch Laird Hamilton, Dave Kalama and my brother starting to get involved in the sport and since I wanted to be like those guys I had to give it a try. My first memory of standup paddling was on a 7’10” mini tanker with Pokémon stickers on it and a canoe paddle.
What’s up with your killer standup body boarding skills?
I’ve grown up body boarding with Kai everyday after school at our home break since we were young. Soon I found myself standing up on it like a surfboard. From then on, I never stopped and my skills have continued progressing. Standup body boarding is a great way of having fun in the worst conditions.
What do you think sets SUP apart from other water sports you’re involved in?
SUP is one of funnest sports in every possible condition. If it’s super windy, nothing is more fun than going for a standup run down the coast. And when the waves are small, mushy and terrible for every other sport, it still lends itself to progressive moves. The cool thing about SUP is that anyone from a 4 year old to an 80 year old can have fun doing it right away.
Do you have a role model in SUP?
For me, my biggest role model in all of my sports has been my brother, mainly because I grew up watching him progress in his own sports. Specifically for standup, he has taught me everything I know about the sport and has shared all of his secrets with me.
What kind of tips or advice do you get from your brother?
He tells me everything from contest strategy to working on proper form, travel tips, and just about anything you can think of— even if I don’t want to hear it.
Where do you hope to go with the sport?
I go to a gnarly college prep school, so at this point SUP is all about fun, but on my time off I focus on training for future competitions. I also plan on traveling with my brother this coming summer and going to exotic surf spots. I aspire to take out my brother.
If you could SUP anywhere, where would you go?
Personally, it doesn’t matter where I am. No matter where I go I can always have fun on my standup board. If I had to choose one place in the world to go, I would choose Namotu, Fiji— home to the funnest waves on earth.
For more Grom Talk, click here.