World champion standup paddler Kai Lenny travels the world competing in races and has made appearances in Outside and GQ magazines. This weekend Lenny will be in South Tahoe competing in Race the Lake of the Sky.
“I’ve wanted to come here because I knew there is such a good paddle scene here and I just wanted to see it for myself,” Lenny said.
Growing up in Maui, HI, the 21-year-old has been paddling since the age of seven.
“That was kind of before it was a sport. Just a few people did it in Maui,” Lenny said.
He started as a surfer and broke off into big wave surfing, kite surfing, wind surfing and standup paddling to become a watersports jack-of-all-trades.
“Luckily where I’m from in Maui, the conditions are always really good for all the sports I do and, so I’m really lucky that I can do all the sports basically in a day. Sometimes a little less because of the conditions but most of the time I’m able to do four to five sports,” Lenny said.
Lenny has been a sponsored athlete since the age of nine and started competing in the windsurfing world tour at 15 and the standup paddle tours at 16.
To become a world champion paddler, athletes compete in two tours, a standup wave tour and a racing tour and in the last five years has won five world titles.
The racing events typically consist of two races, a sprint and a distance race of 6-15 miles. The Race the Lake of the Sky is not part of the tours, but is a 14 mile course with a four mile race the day before.
“This race here, I’ll be riding a 14 foot long board and it’s a race board so it’s kind of catered to a flat water, maybe a little bit of bumps, which is just what the lake is like here,” said Lenny who added he usually races on a 12 foot 6 inch board because a 14 foot board is difficult to travel with.
The sports allow Lenny travel the world to compete against the best athletes in the world.
“The question isn’t where do I go, but where haven’t I been. I’ve basically been to every single place in the world,” Lenny said. “Some of my favorite places I’ve been recently have been places like Patagonia, Fiji, Tahiti,” Lenny said.
He also added, these sports have allowed him to live his dream job, which is to go out and have fun and be a professional athlete. One of his favorite races he’s able to compete in is the Battle of the Paddle in Southern California.
“There is like 10,000 people on the beach and they’re all just cheering. It’s a great atmosphere and all the best athletes in the world are there in standup paddle, so it really does come down to if you’re the best on that given day,” Lenny said.
This is Lenny’s first time visiting Tahoe and he hopes to get on the lake to ride the wake from the Tahoe Queen as well as experiencing all the activities Tahoe has to offer including returning in the winter to ski and snowboard, but for now, he’s preparing for this weekend’s race.
“It seemed like one of those races that you have to come to at least once. I think its one of those races too that you have to come to at least once then you realize you want to come back again for it,” Lenny said. “There’s a lot of excitement in standup paddling around here it seems.”
The Race the Lake of the Sky begins Saturday and continues through Sunday from El Dorado Beach.