“Oh no, not Kai Lenny, too!” was my immediate reaction upon seeing on my newsfeed that Maui’s all-terrain hellman was now an advocate for hydrofoil surfing. I couldn’t help but laugh at Lenny’s choice to pursue the strangest, and kookiest, avenue in surf craft. In no way am I dishonoring the accolades of Mr. Lenny, nor those of the foilboarding godfather, Mr. Laird Hamilton. Laird is in better shape at 52 than I could ever hope to be at 26, and Lenny is quickly following suit to push that level of fitness well into his 80s. Both men have surfed some of the biggest, gnarliest waves on the planet. But the hydrofoil is a demerit, in my book.
Regardless of my initial thoughts, I watched the edit above intently, and part of me can appreciate Lenny’s honesty as it looks, well, enjoyable…kinda. But another part of me can’t help but relate Lenny’s hydrofoil to a moped – fun to ride, but you wouldn’t necessarily want your friends to catch you riding one.
The ability to ride less-than-perfect waves and feel the delight of riding a perfect wave at Malibu is rather intriguing. Paddling into one wave and Huntington-hopping your way out the back to catch another wave? Also interesting. But, while Kai Lenny is having fun three feet above the ocean on his mysterious floating vessel, are any of us thinking, “I’ve gotta get me one of those?” (Besides you, Laird Hamilton.)
In this way, the hydrofoil is comparable to the moped. It’s dandy to kick that little 50cc motor into gear and whip around on an island getaway. But revving that thing around your buds in the local lot will net you more laughs than shakkas every time. Of course, just like the moped, if you’ve got a crew of friends all riding hydrofoils at the same time, you aren’t going to be the target of much criticism. But at the end of the day, the novelty craft is just that: a novelty. While it may catch stares for its strange appearance, it has a long way to go before it’s socially or culturally acceptable enough to float in the lineup. Thanks to men like Kai Lenny and Laird Hamilton for exploring the anomaly, but no thanks to that anomaly ever making its way to a more-crowded break. Now put the cover back on that moped and lock it away for another five years.