7 Questions with Kai Lenny: 2012 Stand-up Paddleboarding Champion

Kai Lenny is not only the 2012 Stand-Up Paddleboard champion, but the Hawaii naive and Red Bull athlete is also a world class tow-in big wave surfer, kitesurfer and windsurfer. Lenny is also the first person to ever successfully windsurf across Lake Michigan, and he’s only 20 years old.

So how does Lenny stay mentally focused and physically fit enough to handle all these challenges? We sat down with him as he was preparing for the Molokai 2 Oahu World Championship to find out.

1. You’re the 2012 Stand-Up Paddleboard champion, but you also windsurf, kite surf and big wave surf. Which of these is the most challenging physically, and which is the most challenging mentally?

All of the water sports I do take a lot of physical and mental effort, and each requires a different demand of how to use my body. Each sport has a positive cross-training aspect that supports each other. The challenges really surface when the conditions become extreme or when I am in a competition.

A super windy day or a giant day at Jaws (a legendary surf spot), really puts the challenge into play. I love to push myself, and because of the hours I spend in the water everyday, I fell really conditioned and prepared when the extreme days come around. Competition also brings out the challenges in my sport. I am so competitive that when I push myself, like in a stand-up race, I give it my all and I search really deep, and that’s where I find out how much I can hurt. I remind myself at these times about the accomplishments that I have done.

Last year, during the World Championship Long Distance Race, I was about 200 yards away from the first place competitor and I reminded myself on how gnarly my wipeout was at Jaws and how the hurt I was feeling during this race didn’t even compare. This motivated me to dig super deep and I ended up winning by several minutes.

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