Maui Surf

Kai Lenny’s Quest to Save our Seas

May 3, 2017, 8:16 AM HST
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Kai flying by on the shortboard hydrofoil.

All photos courtesy of: Andy Mann/Red Bull Content Pool

Maui’s multi-sport phenom, Kai Lenny, has crossed all of the major channels in the Islands on multiple crafts to raise awareness for the environment. The project is backed by Lenny’s sponsor, Red Bull, and is in collaboration with Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii and the Five Gyres Institute. Their mission is to reduce the impact of plastic pollutants in the ocean, and to inspire others to do the same.

Lenny crossed the treacherous 50-mile channel between Hawai’i island and Maui on a hydrofoil shortboard. The Red Bull Wa’a Canoe team towed Kai into the initial swells, and he took it from there. Lenny used a hydrofoil kiteboard to travel from Maui to Lāna’i, then Lāna’i to Moloka’i. He jumped on a hydrofoil stand up paddle-board from Moloka’i to O’ahu, then onto a sailboat for the final leg from O’ahu to Kaua’i.

All smiles after the day’s work.

“At one point coming into Oʻahu, we had a six-knot current coming out of Hawaiʻi Kai harbor,” said Lenny in an interview with Red Bull. “And when current rushes against swell, it jacks the swell up to incredible heights. So, the swells were about 10-15 feet, which are pretty giant open-ocean swells. That was probably the most treacherous part of the journey. But honestly, also the most fun.”

So, why would Lenny cross these channels propelled solely by the wind? Plastic, trash, and all other pollutants in the ocean drift downwind where they collect in massive gyres—large circular surface currents in the ocean. Lenny created the largest statewide beach clean-up Hawai’i has ever had. What’s even more impressive is the fact that on one beach alone, volunteers collected over three tons of plastic trash.

Volunteers played a large role in helping Lenny along the way.

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Lenny continued, “we can clean up all day, but we gotta figure out a way to stop the flow and put a plug in it. The ocean has really been the biggest provider for me aside from my parents, of course. So it’s only fair that I give back and protect it.”

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The impact we have on the environment is astounding. We must take care of the ocean. Even simple steps like drinking from a reusable container such as a Hydroflask can make a difference. To learn more and support the cause, click here.

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