How does Kai Lenny seem to steal the show with every swell in Hawaii? Pipe's been pumping as the North Shore's been doing its thing, but Lenny's antics at Jaws, even with its wind-blown "Maui glass," are hard to keep in perspective. Airdrops, barrels on 20-footers, in one session he's putting together highlight clips that take most surfers entire winters - or even careers - to compile.
"I have so much to work on, but I am liking the direction I am going," posted Lenny.
It's fair to say that most everyone is enjoying the direction Lenny is going right now.
And while Lenny continues to dance all over Peah'i, there's a lot of other good stuff percolating on the islands at the moment. Pioneers in the women's big-wave movement Paige Alms, Bianca Valenti, Keala Kennelly and Andrea Moller just took 17-year-old Annie Starr out to Jaws for a primer on the break. Already an accomplished wave-rider, Starr got a few bombs and earned the respect of everyone in the lineup for her surfing and the maturity and grace with which she handled herself in the lineup. Barely old enough to drive, it's still very early days in Starr's surfing career, but with mentors like Alms and the ladies, it will be exciting to see what the future has in store.
Then there's Ian Walsh, who spent a session at Jaws documenting things on Instagram and riding waves. Hanging with his brother, Luke, and Greg Long, it was a casual, friendly affair. The only real bummer for Walsh was that he forgot his jacket. With the wind blowing all day, next time we recommend he remember that one.
Over on Oahu, the Da Hui Backdoor Shootout scored epic surf at Pipeline. With all the underground chargers and heroes coming out of the woodwork, the 2017 Big Wave World Champ Billy Kemper put his best foot forward. In all-time conditions, the contest was eventually won by Kauai's Tyler Newton and Pipe maestro Jamie O'Brien.
Down the Kam Highway a few clicks, the bowls at Haleiwa have been beckoning the world champs. Three-time world champ Carissa Moore has been field testing boards with a longer rail line, and by the looks of things, they're working for her. Moore has the power and technique, as well as the comfort in Hawaiian waters, to really lay into her carves and put the board on rail. It's impressive how well she's doing it on a 6'2" in her latest Instagram post. Being the good soul that she is, Moore's going to be hosting her first-ever Moore Aloha Surf Camp this weekend. There's sure to be smiles in abundance.
Taking a completely different approach at Haleiwa. Eleven-time World Champion Kelly Slater has been test driving new, small, flighty designs in the heavy conditions. At the end of the 2018 season he noted that he was going to spend the off-season getting his boards and his body ready for his 2019 campaign. Based on what we've been seeing, the former Champ has been hard at work and is looking solid.
And lest we forget that musician Jack Johnson was a world-class surfer before he was a rock star, he showed up at the Haleiwa beachpark and proceeded to carve the bowl with his classic, casual style much to everyone's delight. Johnson was one of the original Momentum Generation crew, grew up on the sand at Pipeline, and appears to be as stoked on surfing as ever.
Even with so much going on, sometimes you just gotta get away from the hustle and flow. A handful of the Hawaiian contingent has opted for colder climates lately. Tatiana Weston-Webb and beau Jesse Mendes are enjoying some time in the City that Never Sleeps, while Coco Ho and Malia Manuel have both split for the mountains to snowboard. Thankfully, Mason Ho has been holding things down for the Ho family. His wipeout reel from Waimea is not to be missed.