Kai Lenny’s Peahi Challenge Highlights
Jaws, Maui, December 6, 2015—Adrenaline was high at the first ever 2015 Peahi Challenge at “Jaws” on the north shore of Maui as Naish Team Rider Kai Lenny and 23 of the most daring big wave heavyweights arrived ready to battle it out on 30-foot waves. We caught up with Kai to see how this historical day played out. Read Kai’s recap from this day of carnage below.
Kai: This wave hit the reef perfectly and everyone paddled right over it. I was the furthest inside, so quickly turned and paddled hard. I could tell by the way it was horseshoeing on the reef that it would be a potential tube. Right when I thought that it lurched down the line, I thought, “Oh no! I’m to deep!” I had a long, fading bottom turn before I pulled under the curtain. Once I was in the barrel, the light that travels over the island through the valley and off the cliff lights up the inside of the barrel like a mirror bouncing golden light. The wave began to spit and I thought I was cooked. Before I knew it, I was trying to escape and it kept on barreling over me. It was an amazing wave; a special one, that is for sure!
After Kai’s amazing barrel in the morning, the contest kicked off with the first round of 50-minute, 4-person heats. In Heat 4—Kai’s first of the day—he fell on a wave and got caught on the inside, which eventually resulted in one of the worst jet-ski wipeouts of the day.
Kai: My experience was a wild one—like everything that was happening out there! I had gotten caught on the inside for the second time after snapping my board ten minutes earlier. But this time, the set was much bigger and broke 20 feet in front of me. All I could do was go lobster diving. I opened my eyes under water to try and negotiate the turbulence, but I ended up just going backwards over the falls. After getting pounded and snapping my second board, Kaiola came in for the rescue. He’s saved me so many times out there I had full faith I was going to be in the clear. That is, until I looked over my left shoulder and saw Ian Walsh kicking out of a frothy one that was horseshoeing around us. The funniest part was that all I could do was to hold on tighter and hope we were going to get lucky. The foam was really thick so the ski wasn’t getting the traction to speed forward. Before I knew it I was flung in the air, head over heals, getting hit by the ski under water . . . and so the wipe out went. I was lucky I still had time to grab my third board and rush back out for a couple more waves! I am most grateful that Kaiola was okay and for everyone swooping in for the rescue as well. At the end of the day, I am glad everyone survived and could go home to their families.
After the event, contestants were invited to enter their best GoPro footage from the day of riding for the chance to win $10,000 and Kai Lenny won with the video below.
Kai: The conditions were challenging once the event started. It was really windy and choppy—the waves were big and sporadic. I got caught inside two times in ten minutes during my semi-final. I thought it put on a great show because of all the carnage. The performance level would have been up if it were glassy but it really showed who had the ability and control to make it look easy out there.
Once I was out there the emotions settled down. Being out there you have to go to work, otherwise you start imagining scary circumstances! I love being in the water with the gnarliest surfers on the planet. They’re comic book super heroes!
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