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I don't want to leave a legacy. I only want to inspire people to love the sea.

Surfstar Kai Lenny im Wasser

Kai Lenny is the best surfer and Waterman in the world. What makes the 26-year-old Hawaiian so extraordinary is his boundless, open approach to the sea and the largest waves of the oceans - and his ambition to master virtually every water sport to perfection.


Surfing, Wind- and Kitesurfing, SUP, Big Wave Surfing, Tow-in Surfing and last but not least you mounted foils to your boards... Did I forget something?
No, no, almost everything is there! I just love the sea and being outside. Also bodysurfing or riding in a canoe with boom to make the list really complete.

Isn't it exhausting to do so many sports with the right equipment? For me all the boards are like tools in my personal treasure chest. Riding on waves is simply the best - no matter how big or small the waves are. With the right board, every trip on the water is an incredible experience.

You belong to the absolute world class in all surf disciplines. Do you have to be that good to understand what makes a discipline so appealing?
Of course not! And that's what makes surfing so special. The ocean is there for everyone and if you want, it becomes your playground. You don't have to be a professional to do that.

Kai Lenny in Nazaré
Life is a wave: Kai Lenny surfs small rivers in Austria or the classics in Hawaii. He feels most comfortable in Big Waves - as here with the Foil-Board in Nazaré
Image credit: Derek Dunfee. / Derek Dunfee.

You surf the legendary wave "Jaws" on Maui - both with the Tow-in-Board and with the pure power of paddling. The pictures are breath-taking and the respect from the surf scene is according. But then you can also be seen on a foil board in a small river wave in Austria - completely without meter-high water walls and adrenalin. How does it fit together?
It's a good match. Even though, frankly, nothing gets to the adrenaline rush you get in Jaws. And yes, of course it is always hard to accept that this flash is not available every day. Therefore, it is important to be able to enjoy the basics, to savour it, to stay fit and to keep mentally and physically in shape for the next big day.

The surfing scene has the reputation of being quite sceptical about material innovations or even interdisciplinary thinking. Whether Shortboard, SUPs or Foil boards: Water sports enthusiasts often define themselves through their own small niche...
On the other hand, what matters most to me is what I personally want to feel on a wave and make possible - in the end, I always remain true to myself. Accordingly, I have little interest in being told what I can and cannot do in and on the water. As long as you don't hurt or put anyone in danger, it's perfectly okay to pursue your very own approach to surfing. The place for that is definitely there. And I also live the approach on land. Although most of my life happens in the water, I still enjoy mountain biking, snowboarding and skateboarding. They only have to line up at the back - if the waves are good.

Kai Lenny and his equipment
Material Boy: When Kai Lenny is on the move, it rarely happens with less than a dozen different surf, windsurf and SUP boards.
Image credit: Derek Dunfee. / Derek Dunfee.

Are you a camping fan?
Sure, if it's part of a mission to be in the mountains longer or to find the perfect wave, then I love it!

You're called a surfer and a Waterman. And thus as a legitimate heir to the great Waterman of the 2000s - Laird Hamilton. Does it make you feel good?
This is a thing of impossibility - to do justice to the image of someone else. Laird is inspiration, like many others. But from this inspiration I can only make something of my own. It makes me feel good.

The ocean is there for everyone and if you want it becomes your playground. You don't have to be a professional for that.
Kai Lenny

How do you become a confident Waterman?
By learning for a lifetime, going back and forth to the sea and living between the elements. By the way, this also applies to every Waterwoman! You have to experience many different situations and states of water in order to know what is going on, the forces are at work and how everything moves and works with each other. And for that you have to get out and gain experience with different boards and boats.

Kai Lenny is also a relaxed type in competition mode.
Image credit: Derek Dunfee. / Derek Dunfee.
Short break at the beach of Nazaré
Short break at the beach of Nazaré. Kai Lenny is also a relaxed type in competition mode - and difficult to separate from the water.
Image credit: Derek Dunfee. / Derek Dunfee.

Robby Naish has been an influential person in your life. Do you ever feel like you've transcended your old mentor?
Robby is a legend, a champion, and I am grateful for everything I could and was allowed to learn from him. It's not about "outdoing", but rather about me feeling grown up enough to stand on my own two feet. However, his word will always have great weight and meaning for me.

What would you like to be your legacy to young surfers?
Leaving a legacy isn't important to me. I want to do my best to entertain and inspire people to experience the sea for themselves and to get excited about it... That would be great! Nothing beats the real life and the real sea. You connect with the elements; everything becomes one and you are one hundred percent human.