Kai Lenny is currently competing at the Big Island final of the Standup World Tour. But he's in full celebration mode. In October, Lenny wrapped up his second world championship in Brazil. Funny thing is, the win isn't making him complacent. The kid just wants more titles. A scary thought for the rest of the field. –JC
SM: How does it feel to have your second World Title wrapped up going into the Big Island finals?
KL: More than anything, I'm relieved. I'm just stoked because to win another world title, accomplish it for a second time, It shows I didn't just get lucky with the first one. Personally, winning a second time gave me a lot more confidence.
SM: When you started the year, could you feel the repeat coming?
KL: I started off the tour with two wins back to back, couldn't have had a better start to the show. After that, I just needed to continue believing that I was going to win. The top four guys that are competing for it have been in every single final, nipping at my heels.
SM: What do you think of where the World Tour is at after this, it's second full year?
KL: I really feel like each event we've been doing has gotten better. There are more people showing up, there's constantly new talent at each venue. At every event you're guaranteed to see two guys you've never seen before that are gonna rip apart a wave. It motivates me to step up my game.
SM: What other guys do you like out there?
KL: I really like what I saw in Keahi (De Aboitiz) at the Huntington event. He's got a great flow and style and can do big maneuvers. He impressed me a lot. I was also impressed with Leco Salazar, Antoine Delpero and Zane Schweitzer. Zane's getting better every event. It's cool to see another Maui guy doing well.
SM: Where do you see the maneuvers going in the sport? We saw a lot of airs in Huntington. Are airs going to be a legitimate part of the game?
KL: Aerial standup paddling is going in every direction, as far as I can tell. Pretty soon, the only way to win a contest will be by landing an air. I've been practicing them a lot. For me, it's just exciting. Guys are busting airs in every event. It's gonna give the sport a lot of credibility. Standup is perfect for airs too. You can build up so much speed and when you hit the lip you get so much more pop. The paddle is a lot like a skier using their poles as a pivot point in the air. It's really important to help you adjust your board. It has to be a building process.
SM: You're a super-talented racer as well (Lenny finished fifth at the Battle of the Paddle California). What are your plans with racing?
KL: I really enjoy racing. You push yourself to a level you wouldn't otherwise unless you had other people around you, especially at a format like the Battle. It's so much more fun. I think next year I'll do some races as well. If I'm feeling comfortable and confident in my training, I'll set some high goals.
SM: You still hungry for another title in 2012?
KL: I'm definitely looking forward to the World Tour again. You would think getting a world title would make you content, but I swear both times I've gotten it I've gotten more hungry, wanting to do well and improve my riding.
An interview with Kai Lenny filmed for French television during the La Torch Pro earlier this year:
Photos: Top courtesy Windsurf World Cup. Bottom two – Tom Servais
And, four in one, cause he can: