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Thursday, February 10, 2011
Livin' like Lenny


Whoever thinks stand-up paddle surfing is an old man's sport missed the 2011 Sunset Beach Pro Champion. Kai Lenny, an 18-year-old from Maui and the reigning SUP World Champ, won the first event of the 2011 Waterman's League Stand Up World Tour yesterday by standing tall in some very unruly conditions.

Kai Lenny, handling the big day.

"I'm stoked that I'm starting the year off good again," said Lenny of his second consecutive Sunset Beach Pro victory.

Last year Lenny won this event, which earned him a wildcard entry onto the 2010 SUP World Tour. The win was ultimately the catalyst to his 2010 SUP World Title campaign. Judging by his performance yesterday, Lenny looks poised to win another championship.

"My main goal coming into this event was to better my riding," said Lenny. "I was hoping for the final to have a little bit more consistency and  a little bigger waves so we can really put it on edge, but I'm still super stoked."

He jumped to an early lead in the final, getting two scores quickly in the first half of the heat. It was all in the plan according to Lenny.

"My strategy from the beggining was to just get waves off the bat because there's nothing worse than looking at your watch and seeing the minutes are dieing down and you haven»t caught one decent wave," said Lenny. "My main goal was to get some good waves early."

His strategy proved to be successful when the high-scoring rides were few and far between in the last half of the final. Lenny won the Sunset Beach Pro presented by Turtle Bay with a two-wave total of 13.75 out of a possible 20 points. His highest scoring ride was a 8.25 out of a possible 10 points in which he pushed the level of progression with tail-blowing cutbacks.

Podium time (left to right): Zane Schweitzer, Kai Lenny, Robin Johnston, Peyo Lizaruzu.

Wave-face heights at Sunset Beach yesterday were in the 4- to 6-foot range, which was a stark contrast to the giant surf that bombarded the first three days of competition.

"We saw everything," said Sunset Beach Pro runner-up Robin Johston about the variety of surf at this event. "Side-wind. Offshore. Huge. Medium. Small. Everything. It made men out of us."

The first three days of competion saw 20- to 24-foot wave face heights at Sunset Beach, testing the mettle and equipment of the SUP surfers.

"I got some bombs [Tuesday] and it was a solid [24-foot wave face heights at Sunset]," said Lenny of the monster surf in the opening rounds. "I went from my gun down to my short-stand-up and it was big variety of conditions. I'm glad I made them all work."

Johnston, 41, finished runner-up with a two-wave total of 13.65. He gave Lenny a run for his money in the last minutes of the final. Johnston  got a good set wave in the end, but it wasn't enough. He admitted that the high-scoring rides were hard to find in the final.

Lenny, pocket jam on a another Sunset beast.

"It was kind of hunting for a good one," said Johnston about the declining swell in the final. "Fortunately we had good energy and everyone was nice in the final so it made it pleasant."

According to Johnston it was genteleman's heat with no hassling or tactics. Finishing behind Johnston in third place was France's Peyo Lizarazu. Maui's Zane Schweitzer claimed fourth.

Sunset Beach Pro presented by Turtle Bay (1st of 8 event on 2011 Waterman League Stand Up World Tour)
1.    Kai Lenny $3500
2.    Robin Johnston $2500
3.    Peyo Lizarazu $1750
4.    Zane Schweitzer $1250