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Kai Lenny wins WSL Big Wave Award 'Performer of the Year'

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Kai Lenny wins WSL Big Wave Award 'Performer of the Year'

HONOLULU -- The 2021 WSL Big Wave Awards were announced recently and several Hawaii surfers were honored including a Maui man that many consider one of the best watermen of this generation.

Kai Lenny was nominated for 11 awards. He took home five -- two of which got him top honors.

KITV4's Malika Dudley spoke with Lenny about the awards and his participation in a plethora of water sports. 

Malika: We're talking with Kai Lenny today, and we're talking about the Big Wave Awards, but before we get into it, I need you to give us the bigger picture. Please list for us the different water sports that you partake in.

Kai: Well, I try to do as many water sports as I can. And it's mainly because I just love the art of riding waves and it's everything from surfing to stand up paddling, to hydrofoiling, to windsurfing, to kitesurf, into wing riding, to canoe paddling, prone paddleboarding, body surfing. I mean, whatever it is in the ocean, I just really love to do. And I'm just so lucky to be from Hawaii and have the opportunity to go out on the water every day.

Malika: Amazing. And Maui is the perfect playground to do all of those different sports because when the weather changes, you just switch to a different craft.

Kai: Yeah. I feel like every hour the weather is changing here on Maui. So if it's raining one moment, it'll be sunny the next. And of course, when it comes down to conditions, it may be the Mecca for surfing on the north shore of Oahu, but it is the Mecca for all these winds sports and alternative water sports here on Maui. And we do have one of the biggest waves on planet earth, which is just in our backyard here. Everyone knows it as Jaws, and here we know it as Peahi.

Malika: Hey, on that topic, it's no wonder that you're considered one of the world's best watermen. And this year you took home several awards and honors at the big wave awards. Biggest tow, biggest paddle, and of course, performer of the year. So tell us about this past season.

Kai: This past season has been insane. I think every season, my goal is to just have a better one. I spend the entire summer and all those off days during winter, focusing on getting my skills better and trying to accomplish the goals that I set in front of me. And so last year was my best season ever because we had some of the best waves around the world. I was able to surf my backyard at Jaws. I was also able to go to Mavericks. It was some of the biggest they've had there in all of the history of people surfing there and then some of the biggest swells in Nazare and Portugal. So having those three big wave spots going off all at once during a winter was intense, but rewarding because you have moments that, you know, you'll remember for the rest of your life. And I think the icing on the cake is being nominated and winning awards for the big wave awards, but it certainly is mostly about the adventure and the ride and the lessons you learn while you go out on these endeavors.

Malika: Does one of those rides stick out to you?

Kai: I had so many great rides last year. Maybe one of the most memorable rides was the ride after the ride, you know, the wipeouts. I had a really brutal beat down in Nazare, but it just cements the confidence in going back out because realizing you can handle it and all your training paid off, but then again, talking about another ride on a wave, it was actually one that would inevitably allow me to win an award for biggest paddle and that was just down the road at Jaws. And it was a paddling wave. I just remember dropping in really late and navigating all these bumps and basically a really technical day with a lot of wins. So I couldn't see for the first half of the ride until I was in this giant barrel. And even then, I didn't think I was going to make. But when you get spat out on the channel with so much velocity, like being shot out of a cannon, I mean, it goes to show that the best rides are the ones you don't think you're going to make, and when you make them, you're just almost surprised. I'll remember that ride forever.

Malika: Amazing... gave me chicken skin and they didn't have a ceremony this year to tell you about these awards, but I love their out-of-the-box thinking for presenting you with the award. Tell me about that.

Kai: I was pleasantly surprised when Kaipo Guerrero and my brother Ridge came knocking on the door to tell me that I had won some awards. And to me that was just, it's always really satisfying because it means that all that effort wasn't for nothing. It was like I actually was performing in the eyes of my peers for me is the best feeling because they're the ones that I look up to.


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