A video from Sup the Mag of Maui's Kai Lenny is taking the internet by storm. The video shows Lenny gliding swiftly above the wind chop on his paddleboard, which is hovering above the surface of the water thanks to its attached hydrofoil. Over the weekend the video quickly became one of the top-trending items on Facebook.
Before last year Lenny was mostly known as the world's best SUP surfer and paddler. This past winter, however, he competed in the Pe'ahi Challenge in December, where he won the GoPro Challenge. The remainder of his incredible big-wave sessions this past winter earned him a Surfline Best Overall Performance nomination at the Big Wave Awards, which qualifies him for this year's Big Wave Tour.
The Maui native has apparently been testing the hydrofoil design for quite some time. The downwind conditions helped Lenny reach speeds that allowed the foil to go to work, lifting his entire paddleboard above the water for incredible lengths of time.
"It truly felt like I was just standing there and walking on water, but going 20 miles per hour," Lenny told Surfer Today. "I have never gone that fast downwind in my life."
Lenny began his waterman career with windsurfing, so he knows a lot about the dynamics of how the board functions, and Robby Naish, the hydrofoils designer, was his first sponsor. He competes regularly in SUP competitions and is a three-time World Champion in that category.
A hydrofoil board is not an entirely new concept, but the one thing that stands out about this feat is hydrofoils that aren't attached to kites or sails need motorized assist to get moving. Lenny is apparently getting the foil to engage based on downwind paddle power alone, which is sure to change SUP racing forever.
Kai just wrapped up a huge big wave season: He competed in the Pe'ahi Challenge in December and won the GoPro Challenge for a stunning ride at that contest. His solo missions at various breaks around the world earned him a Surfline Best Overall Performance nomination, which qualifies him for the BWT draws this season.