Positively Kai: Family, Attitude and Aloha

The Lenny family enjoys a close connection to the ocean - and to each other. Aloha, dreams, hard work and smiles.

The Lenny family enjoys a close connection to the ocean – and to each other. Aloha, dreams, hard work and smiles.

Martin Lenny told me a story once, it was a story that started with family – a family connected to the ocean.  In the early days as Martin and Paula were working double jobs while raising their family, they recognized that their son Kai was active – super active. Kai, whose name means, “ocean” in Hawaiian was happiest in the ocean.The best way to feed his need for action was to top off each day with time at the beach – doing whatever ocean sport was suitable for Kai’s age.

Fortunately, his family recognized that Kai had more than just a love of the ocean, he also had a passionate dream. Kai learned how to surf at the age of 4, windsurf at 6, stand up surf at 7 and kite surf at 9. Learning how to do these sports all happened naturally, and from it grew his love affair with the ocean and the waves. Mentors have been integral to Kai’s ability to soar toward his dream.

The early days’ mentoring from Robby Naish has evolved into a lifelong friendship.  Few his age have enjoyed training with not only Robby, but also legendary watermen like Laird Hamilton,  Dave Kalama, Buzzy Kerbox and Chuck Patterson.  Kai eagerly adopted just about every sport that involved water, wind and waves.

Traditional prayer circle lead by gerry Lopez before the Positively Kai Grom clinic - huge turn out

Traditional prayer circle lead by gerry Lopez before the Positively Kai Grom clinic – huge turn out

A common thread among his mentors and his family has inspired Kai as he has become a champion, a leader himself: Give back to the next generation by mentoring and consistently sharing aloha. It was exactly this sort of mentoring and inspiration that helped Kai continue his life journey toward his own dream. It is very obvious that the entire Lenny family lives this commitment to sharing with the next generation of standup paddlers.

In the spirit of mentoring and giving back, Kai has created a series of clinics for groms (young surfers) called, “Positively Kai.” Yesterday in Hood River we enjoyed watching the free clinic supported by sponsors (Naish, Hurley, Red Bull, Nike, GoPro , Turtle Bay Resort, Vertra, MFC and others).

DSC02549The clinic began with a prayer circle created by three concentric circles of hundreds of groms, family and friends holding hands and following the words of Gerry Lopez. Soon afterward, the groms were organized by age group and taken for more land instruction by the Big Winds JET team riders and many elite standup paddlers like Connor Baxter, Kody Kerbox, Chuck Patterson, Noa Ginella, Riggs Napoleon and more.DSC02666

DSC02723 DSC02696Age group races were an exciting part of the clinic but the real stories happened on the beach! One group of 8 year olds pow-wowed on the sand as the one more experienced paddler shared confidence and some words of wisdom to his peer.

A mom sent her 5 year old out into the windy bay with a grin. Why? She explained, “When she was 18 months old she began going paddling with me, sometimes napping on the board and sometimes falling off. But she has always loved being on the board with me. Now that she’s 5 she begged to come to this clinic and learn to paddle on her own.”

One exceptional paddler, Estani Bori age 10, had some obvious experience, skills and maybe that same passion that once fueled Kai when he was 10. He flew around the race course, then ran down to the beach to help collect the boards from the other racers as they finished. He was on the water doing tail turns and sprints all afternoon. I caught up with his father, Pablo.DSC02704

“Why did you travel all the way from Tahoe for this clinic,” I asked. Pablo didn’t hesitate a bit, “Once I saw that Estani lives and breathes this sport I had to help him follow what he is passionate about.”

That sounds like something Martin Lenny said, back in the day.  Pablo continued, “Estani goes to sleep watching his SUP heroes and he wakes up wanting to paddle, paddle, paddle. Once he started doing races it was great. The travel and the paddling is something we can do, father and son.”

Again and again all day long that is what stuck – the number of kids and parents, entire families smiling and sharing the stoke that is SUP. The energy of more than 400 people through the dance-off, the dinner of yummy burritos (Kai’s favorite) and the awards was stellar.

We ended with this from Kai, “I am inspired and stoked to see so many groms of all ages charging and having fun. You are the future of SUP and this is the best time to be a standup paddle athlete. The sport is young and has room for you to make your dreams happen – in SUP or whatever it is you dream. “DSC02670

Olukai Ho’olaule’a: Recap by Connor

On the STANDUP PADDLE MAGAZINE’s Facebook page there was a great recap of the Olukai Ho’olaule’a posted.  I am sharing the whole summary by Connor Baxter here. It’s almost like being there again!

Connor baxter, Dave Kalama, Kai Lenny, Suzie Cooney and all the elite SUP racers are in the front ready for a challenging run.

Connor Baxter, Dave Kalama, Kai Lenny, Suzie Cooney and all the elite SUP racers are in the front ready for a challenging run.

“The Olukai Ho’olaule’a is a great event. Every year paddlers look forward to competing at this event in the infamous Maliko downwinder. The day started out with rain and very light winds. But, when driving down along the north shore we could see that the wind was picking up and the rain had stopped – and there were a few whitecaps. It was looking like it was going to be a good day. Driving into Maliko Gulch, I knew there were going to be a bunch of people – there were cars parked all the way out to the highway – and it was only 10am. What a great turnout.

Once we got there – I checked in and got my board ready. And, of course had to say hi to everyone. At 11:30 we had a pule, a Hawaiian prayer and then all 300+ of us hit the water for a 12:00 start. It was a water start on the outside of the bay. The wind was a little onshore so I decided to start further outside. Once we were all lined up on the water the boat waved a yellow flag so we got ready to race. And bam the green flag went up and I sprinted right from the beginning. Dave Kalama and I pulled away right from the beginning and like always – were just trading off back and forth.

Dave Kalama showing his powerful form making his way to a strong finish

Dave Kalama showing his powerful form making his way to a strong finish

Once we got to outer Baldwin I knew I had to put a gap on Dave. So I put my head down and I shifted into 6th gear and didn’t stop until I had a comfortable lead. Once I was a little ahead, I got into a steady rhythm and kept going.

Coming into Camp One I was a little nervous, because I didn’t have a leash and there were waves. So I caught a medium size one and stepped to the tail and rode the wave to the inside. Once I hit the flat water I just kept my head down and sprinted all the way to the finish.

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Awesome shot captured by Terry Marie Galpin

I had a good lead of a minute and a half on Dave – and two and a half minutes on Kai in third place. I hit the beach and ran all the way to the finish line and spur of the moment I got a great idea to dolphin dive across the finish line – even though there was no one even close to me.

Overall it was a great event and I had a lot of fun and really stoked to defend my title and hope to do it again next year! I want to thank my sponsors for all their support – Starboard, Maui Jim, Rainbow Sandals, Trident Sports, Rista Fins, Dakine, GoPro, OnIt Pro, Waterman’s Sunscreen, Igloo Coolers, Sunrite Maui, Hammer Nutrition, iDcard, EFX and Hi-Tech Sports. Also a big

Mahalo to all the event organizers and volunteers.”

Aloha, Connor Baxter

Talk Story: GoPro Wordsmithing

Just over a year ago, my husband, Ed, and I did our first SUP downwind event. It was a short, 3-mile fun race off the north shore of Maui from Paia to Kanaha Beach Park. (story here). Four days later, Ed had rotator cuff surgery, a 6 month road back to paddling that included lots of pain, rehab and determination.  Through all of that we had the plan to return to Maui on May 11, 2013 in order to do the full-out 8 mile run from Maliko Gulch to Kanaha beach Park no matter what. The weather, a fresh, large swell and little wind made the “no matter what” a bit more than we’d expected – but we did it!

As adventures, even of the “bucket list” kind fade over time, there’s something we can all do to preserve them for ourselves and anyone else who’d like to share with us.  Using a GoPro camera and any of the various mounting accessories, capturing active adventures is as easy as pushing a button and getting out there.

Making the story something that friends and family will enjoy as much as you (star of the show) do requires a little more time and planning. Using great tools available from GoPro, iMovie, Windows Movie Maker or any number of easy and inexpensive editing tools you have the ability to take hours of action and collect in smaller buckets of interesting and quality segments.  Adding the right music is usually the most fun lots of us.

The next part takes a bit more time. Watch your project from start to finish again and again. Watch it with someone who wasn’t with you during the action. What do they wonder about, WOW about or seem most interested in?  What questions come up?  Once you really “know” your visual story you are ready to do some “wordsmithing.”  The more you practice the art of magical and creative wordplay , while still maintaining the essence of the story the more comfortable you will be as a wordsmith.  We may not ever become a master at crafting new words or cobbling together fresh phrases but we can add substance to our videos by adding a carefully scripted dialog from time to time.

This video, Reflections – SUP Lifestyle is a bit long but it solidly inspired me to try harder on my video scripting.  VIDEO SAMPLE: This is a 4 minute example made from over 3 hours of GoPro footage.  I’d love to hear your comments and link to projects you’re proud of.

Images and Story: GoPro Easy

Along with the millions of others who have strapped a GoPro to their head, chest, helmet, bike, boat, surfboard or SUP board, we are having a blast making video stories.  Our stories aren’t the most incredible, extreme or unusual – they are simply “Our” stories. You have plenty of your own, right? And watching memories come alive in sight, sound, music and images is priceless!

There are moments between the adventure of letting the GoPro roll in the action and getting the finished, edited project that could be confusing or frustrating. I am discovering that things can be easier once I leap across and learning plateau and minimize my own “user-errors.”

Luckily, avid GoPro fans from near and far have posted exactly the YouTube video we need to answer nearly any question we type into a search box. It’s truly amazing.  Adding to that support is the GoPro site itself.  Recently, I discovered an additional resource – the call back after an online form e-mail question I submitted.  GoPro is a company 100% focused on making our experience with their products the best it can be.

Are yopu wondering what my question was? The one that I couldn’t find and answer to and finally submitted it online?  Look at the video below.  In some of the sequences there is a gray shading on the left side. The footage that has that gray l;ine came from a GoPro Hero Silver edition we took straight from the box, charged and set out to use (without updating the firmware).

How would we know we should have updated the firmware? We had actually gotten an e-mail from GoPro a week before. in the excitement of going to Hawaii to standup paddle, we ignored it. Our mistake.  Once we accomplished the very easy task of downloading the update all subsequent footage was perfect!  What a cool fix, quick and easy.

SUP Maui: Glassy Goodness

Have you ever had that oh-so-comfortable pair of shoes you wear way beyond their fashion or appearance window? How about your “lucky” baseball glove or standup paddle you hesitate to change? Anyone who knows me well knows that when I get equipment that works for me I stick with it.

Fortunately, the team at Naish Maui Pro Center (cool story about their team here )combines excellent advice and careful guidance as they encouraged me to try the Naish Hokua 9’0″ during our recent trip to Maui.

Back story: I have paddled flatwater, downwind and surfed on an Amundson 11’3″ for the past 4 years. As an all-round SUP board it has served me happily and well.  During the 12 months between May 2012 and May 2013 I caught exactly 4 waves and surfed a total of 2 hours at Pacific City on the Oregon coast.  To say the least, my surf skills had not been honed or improved. Moving toward the sort of high performance boards in the Naish Hokua line seemed, well, scary! I was used to a barge under foot not the v-design of the Hokua.

Outrageous, wonderful surprise!  The first minute out on the water with the Naish Hokua 9′ 0″ had me knocking knee wobbly, then it clicked. A mere paddle stroke or two had the Hokua accelerating steadily. The first thigh high glassy swell rose over the mid tide reef at Launiupoko so I went for it – and caught it!  All day I played from that start. Late take-offs? The Hokua and I laughed our way down the faces, it seemed made to rise out of the water and with a mild press of my back foot I could get a lot of tail kick right or left. This had never been part of my skill set before!  The Hokua has a super nice “between-the-feet” feel that allowed plenty of fun while waiting between sets and just paddling over the gin clear water above the reef.

While the 9’0″ is great for riders 30-60 lbs heavier than I am, even at my age, size and weight it felt zippy, maneuverable and tons of fun!  If you’ve been sticking with the SUP board that’s been your go-to equipment for some time, take a demo, rent a Naish Hokua if you get the chance. You may fall crazy in love like we did – see GoPro video below for the full story!

Maliko Musings: Olukai Ho’olaule’a

When experienced standup paddlers describe the downwind run you are about to do the very next day and they say, “It’s going to be harrowing, huge swells and very little wind,” that does not build confidence!

The start of the 2013 Olukai Ho'olaule'a at Maliko Gulch

The start of the 2013 Olukai Ho’olaule’a at Maliko Gulch

Those very conditions greeted 336 SUP downwind racers at the 5th Olukai Ho’olaule’a on May 11.  Little did I know as I paddled out of the Maliko Gulch what was in store.  The tide was flowing in, the swells delivered confused chop and the wind clocked toward our faces as we paddled past the reefs and cliffs about a mile and a quarter straight out to sea and the starting line.  I believed the waves would be my nemesis, but one wave in particular delivered the defining moment of that all-round incredible event!  Here’s the story:

Like most of the participants, I spent a great deal of time paddling on my knees, really getting a challenging balance workout while going for the glides or taking some head-first dunks into the confused sea.  When I had feet under me, eyes on the horizon and my paddle technique cranking out smoothly, holy cow, the Naish 14′ Glide I was riding accelerated with glee and practically begged to connect those glides. Exhilarating stuff for sure. Light as a feather, my KIALOA Hulu paddle powered me through chop and (YAY!) let me brace, balance and avoid plenty of wipeouts.

From the very first paddle stroke, as fellow participants were lifted – then disappeared – behind the swells, my fear was that I’d not be able to negotiate the beach landing. All along the shoreline from Hookipa to Kanaha and points in between the swells met reefs and created a wall of crushing white-water challenge. About 75 minutes into the race Kanaha and the life guard stand was in view. I was paddling near Sean Sweet of Sweet Waterwear when I heard him say, “Judy, look right!”

Defining moment, uncaught wave of the day. And that was a good thing!

Defining moment, uncaught wave of the day. And that was a good thing!

I braced my paddle in the water to my right, swung my eyes over and looked straight up into a building and breaking wall of gray-green and foaming wave. There was just one reaction, and it surprised the living daylight out of me – I was like, “Yeah!” and went for it. Went for it as in, “I want to catch this thing.”  Lucky for me, very lucky, the water was deep enough that instead of crushing right onto me, it re-built as a pillowing swell and swept neatly under my Glide. Also lucky for me, I realized how much I love being in the ocean, riding waves, being part of a huge community of like-spirited paddlers and enjoying the fruits of much practice and training. It’s all a very cool journey.

It’s tough to put into words the impact an event like one’s first Maliko Gulch downwind run delivers. Instread, here’s a 4 minute video that tells the tale. Much appreciation (listed in the credits at the end) go to Naish International  (Haiku), KIALOA Paddles, GoPro, and Suzie Cooney, CPT.

SUP Love: Sounds Like Hokua

Ah, love is in the air – it’s May and warm – but better yet, salt is in the air.  Ed and I are on Maui just as weather at home is figuring out how to move from winter to spring.

We are a salt-craving duo. I started surfing in 1965 with the same guy I am surfing with now. Yup, heading into our 43rd anniversary we’ve still got the love.  That said, I must confess a new crush – a wild and wonderful new crush on something fresh, sleek, sporty and fast – the Naish Hokua 9’0.” So, here’s the story.

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Savoring the day after a sweet training paddle and surf session on the Naish 14′ Glide

My surfer guy, Ed, and I had a 40 year hiatus from surfing and re-discovered our love of walking on water in 2005 as we launched into standup paddling – and surfing.  Now it’s May and we’re on Maui prepping for the tradition and adventure of the Olukai Ho’olaule’aHo’olaule’a – literally, it means “celebration”, according to Olukai, it’s also an expression of gratitude. We feel that way as well.

Since enjoying the small, “fun,” version of the Ho’olaule’a last year we have had the great fortune to meet so many great friends, professionals and athletes connected by Maui’s culture and events.  What a treasure. The team at Naish Maui Pro Center stands out as a key part of what has made the experience what it is.

Talk about in-depth experience, passion for their respective board sports and endless patience for questions and sharing advice – and that is just the tip of the iceberg.

Have you ever rented SUP equipment during a vacation? It can be a real grab bag of choices. Many times we’ve headed out with less-than-amazing equipment, heavy paddles and a wave good bye once the credit card has been swiped. The team at Naish Maui Pro Center lives a very different vibe.  Martin never stops smiling as he fine tunes and repairs the rental fleet maintaining tip top condition and appearance.  Sam has a knack for considering our abilities and matching that to the breaks that could provide us the best experience on any given day.  Jay is obviously proud of both the retail and rental aspects of the shop, as well as the culture that’s been developed. It was fun to chat with a few Naish riding Maui locals out at the break as they inquired where we got our Hokuas. The moment we said, ” We rented them over at Naish Maui Pro Center,” they immediately shared a similar story or two.

Be prepared to be an SUP kid in a candy store at the Naish Maui Pro Center. Rack after rack of Naish board choices spread as far as the eye can see. There’s something for every ability and size. It was there in front of the area holding the Hokua line that I saw it – the Hokua 9’0.” I surf an 11’3″ all round board and love it – but sadly, it couldn’t hold a candle to this sleek and snappy  Hokua calling my name. Heck, at my age (63) and my surfing ability (you’ll see in the video) would I be able to stand on it, balance and even catch a wave? I didn’t care, it was too beautiful not to take as my board of choice for surfing this week. Take a look at the 1-minute video collage of an afternoon of glassy awesome-ness at Launiupoko.

In love there is always “that moment!” While I had plenty of fun rides and better bottom turns than I’d ever enjoyed, there was that moment of connection. A larger than usual set had come in with a chest high swell rather than the thigh highs of the day.  This glassy wall peaked in front of me and the lip took a sudden and crushing fold down, breaking right in front of me. I dug in my paddle and braced, expecting to the be tossed in the drink.

HA! Not so. That Hokua easily broke through the wave, the power of the crest whipped past my ankles and I did this quick turn, and (SURPRISE) caught the next wave in the set.  We’ve seen the pros make the Hokua perform. How cool that it can bring even the novice to a new level of SUP fun!

(The BIG Story:  Naish 14′ Glides  for the Olukai Ho’olaule’a on Saturday)