The Kai’wi Channel is considered one of the most intense and strenuous channels in the world and during the The Molokai 2 Oahu Paddleboard World Championships this past week, 23-year-old Hawaiian Kai Lenny broke the record time with 4 hours, 7 minutes and 41 seconds.
The 32-mile downwind race crosses from island to island over one of the world’s deepest and windiest channels often referred to as “The Channel of Bones”. The day had everything from sun to wind to rain and the experienced athletes had to do their best to respond to Mother Nature. Winner and TAG Heuer ambassador Kai Lenny knew just how to react; “This year I really focused”, said Lenny, “and I think that I haven’t been that focused in a race before – reading each bump and everything else was blurred out, I just found the rhythm and this is really a dream come true.”
Even more than his responsiveness to the channel’s harsh conditions, Lenny seemed most preoccupied with his competition: “You have the fastest guys. I figured I had to get a win in myself soon because everyone is so much faster, and it is getting harder to do it […] I wasn’t going for the record at all; I was just trying to be ahead of those guys.”
The race consisted of some of water-sports’ current heavy-hitters, including previous record holder Connor Baxter, and last year’s winner Travis Grant. The defending champion managed second place this year and after Lenny’s victory, responded graciously when asked about his defeat: “It was a really fast and very technical race this year. I felt I had a good crossing — I conserved energy all day and surfed the bumps as well as I could, but Kai simply did it better. He’s such a talented athlete and deserves everything he gets. I did everything I could but couldn’t match it with him the whole way — he was just too consistent today.”
Lenny is ecstatic about his triumph and is proud to hold the new record for paddle-boarding The Channel of Bones. He described the win as “really special and surreal,” and does not diminish the difficulty this channel is famous for, explaining that “this is by far the hardest event I’ve ever done in my life.”
Kai Lenny is ambassador of the Swiss manufacturer TAG Heuer, and just like the brand he represents, Lenny is known for not cracking under pressure. In April, Kai Lenny visited the TAG Heuer dealer in Paris to choose a TAG to add to his collection. Lenny aptly chose the Aquaracer Chronograph, with 300 Meters water-resistance on a rubber strap that a water-sportsman like Kai Lenny requires (#DontCrackUnderPressure).