Pe'ahi, Maui, Hawaii, November 8, 2016
Four out of the five nominees in the TAG Heur XXL Big Wave Awards are from Nazaré, Portugal, but there's one nominee whose submission comes from somewhere else. Kai Lenny's name and reputation are synonymous with Pe'ahi, and surfing Jaws -- be it on a gun, a SUP, a hydrofoil or a tow-in shooter. He knows the wave intimately, and is at that stage when he can toy with it to a certain extent.
Mr. Lenny has done the hard yards, even at the relatively entry-level age of 25. He was surfing as a young child and had already graduated to kiteboarding by the age of 10, so he does have a fair share of experience.
He's done the grueling 32-mile Molokai to Oahu paddle many times, was a veteran on the Professional Windsurfing Association World Wave Tour, has been runner-up at the Kite Surf Pro World Championships, and he's won the SUP World Title six times and counting. All of this saw him nominated for the Surfline Men's Performance of The Year category at the 2016 Big Wave Awards (fellow Maui waterman Shane Dorian won).
On this Pe'ahi bomb Lenny was having fun, on what will definitely be recognized as one of the biggest waves of the year. Kai makes it look too easy, as he ripped apart a giant right-hand barrel funneling over the reef and into the record books. The wave stands out from the Nazaré entries for many reasons, one being the fact of how well he rides it, and another for the fact that it's a right in the world of big-wave lefts.