Maui-based charger Kai Lenny took top honors today at Playa Zicatela in Puerto Escondido after stylishly driving though an oversized tube in the dying minutes of the final, earning him an 8.60 and putting him comfortably in first place.
“I can’t believe it, that’s crazy,” Lenny said on the beach right after the final horn. “It was hard to get waves out there; it was so shifty. But then the one that I had been waiting for through all the heats I’d been competing in finally came and everyone was a little too far in or too deep, and I’m like ‘Oh my god. This is it.'”
Puerto Escondido is notorious for delivering both perfect, cavernous tubes and brutal closeouts alike, and even the most experienced Puerto tube shooters often find themselves on the wrong end of a liquid guillotine. But Lenny’s last-minute wave selection was enough to give him the edge he needed to take the win.
“As soon as I came out, I knew I had it,” Lenny said. “I was just like ‘Finally I made one!’ Because I’ve just been getting pounded the whole time.”
One of the most impressive performances in the history of big-wave competition actually came from the second-place finisher, Jamie Mitchell, who paddled out and pulled into countless house-sized tubes despite the fact that he had a fractured sternum—an injury that he sustained at this very same stretch of punishing beach break just a few weeks ago.
“To be honest, there’s so many good guys wanting to be where we are right now,” Mitchell said from the podium when asked what motivated him to paddle out and compete with his injury. “They’re animals, and you just go into beast mode and try to numb out the pain.”
Stay tuned for a full gallery of the day’s action, coming soon.