Kai Lenny just got his drivers license, is just about to graduate High School and just became standup paddling's first world champion. Here, the 17-year-old sits down for a one-on-one heat with SUP magazine. –JC
SUP mag: When 2010 started, was this something you set your sites on?
Lenny: I definitely had no idea I was going to be able to go the whole tour. I was a wildcard at Sunset, won that and then got a wildcard into the world tour. And after I took third in France, I thought it was a possibility and went all out. I trained a lot and put all my energy into it.
SUP mag: What did you think of the tour? Were you pumped on all the events?
Lenny: I was really stoked on the whole world tour. I'm more excited for next year, to defend my title. I think I know how to win now. I think the tour schedule for next year is awesome. There's going to be three events added on for eight total. There will be a lot of new competitors joining the tour so from the competitive side, it's gonna get a lot harder. More paddlers ripping harder and more of a challenge.
SUP mag: What do you think of some of the naysayers who think this world tour lacked cred because some really good surfers weren't on it?
Lenny: I've traveled everywhere and seen all the best standup paddlers in the world. And right now, on the tour, there are no better standup paddlers. For sure there were a few guys missing, but just like surfing you hear, "oh this so and so isn't on tour and he's doing the best airs.” There's always gonna be someone out there who doesn't like something.
SUP mag: Dude, you do have some of the sickest style in the world on a standup board. Where does that come from?
Lenny I started off as a surfer, I am a surfer. Standup is just a reason to surf more. I get a lot of inspiration form surfing. When I standup I'm with friends who are surfing. And windsurfing and kite surfing really influence the way I ride. I'm used to turning a big board with windsurfing, used to the speed of kite surfing. Plus tow-in surfing. It all affects how I ride.
SUP mag: So what are you're plans now?
Lenny: Right now, I'm about to go for a surf. It looks pretty good. I've been training nonstop for the final event [of the world tour] so I'm taking a break. Just free surfing. I'm looking forward to the first event of the world tour at Sunset in February. I love those big open- faced walls.
SUP mag: And school?
Lenny: I should finish school around the middle of January. I've fit all my training into one day shared with school. It'll be good to focus on training 100 percent of time instead of 50 percent.