Kai Lenny’s Foil Boards
“The beauty of hydro-foiling and what I love most about it is that it opens up an entire new realm of places to go surfing. You don’t need to go to a crowded break – in fact you don’t even need a good wave to go hydro-foiling. It’s about finding new waves that have never been ridden and making the most of the conditions you have,” says Hawaiian waterman, Kai Lenny. In our increasingly crowded line-ups that’s a big advantage. Hydro-foils work in everything from tiddly beach breaks to big Jaws to unbroken open ocean swells. Skilled riders – and none are better than Kai Lenny – can ride continuously, flicking off a wave and pumping furiously out the back and onto the next swell.
Lenny’s record is 11 waves in a row or six minutes of non-stop riding. Foil boards, of course, are nothing new. Laird Hamilton (along with Dave Kalama, Rush Randle and Brett Likkle) came up with the concept in the late nineties using a wake board fitted with snowboard boots. Hamilton looked godlike in those early images, like he was levitating on water. His stated goal was to surf between islands on huge unbroken swells. Initially it looked like foil-boarding was just too weird or difficult for mass adoption, but Kai Lenny has kicked it along in recent years. He’s got his buddy John John Florence on board and you can only imagine where he might take it. Florence, a keen sailor, pictures himself sailing around the planet, foil boarding in the middle of the ocean with just the seabirds watching.
Main: Kai Lenny taking his foil to a whole new place. Inset: Foil board under construction.