The Strapped Crew also experimented with early kiteboarding, launching 60-foot antennas before most people even knew the sport existed; They invented plank in one form or another, by cutting a hydrofoil from a peculiar instrument called an air chair; They were responsible for reviving the ancient Hawaiian practice of standing rowing.
As unusual as The Strapped Crew—there was no comparable group of men anywhere else on Earth—for Lenny they were local heroes larger than their lives, “like the Avengers or the Justice League,” as he puts it.
Lenny’s parents helped him emulate a Strapped Crew by getting a family jet ski for surfing outings, renting a competitive windsurf for family lessons, and buying one of the oldest skis.
Martin and Paula were concerned that Lenny was missing out on his childhood. “It talks about fins, board development, and sales,” Martin explained, referring to Lenny’s early adolescence. “We were like, ‘God, he should be hanging out with kids his age.’ We were going to make him go to bed one weekend and he was just like, Dad, I really don’t want to go. All these kids are playing Nintendo. I’d rather surf with you guys, friends. “
That should hurt Lenny’s social standing even more, as did the fading popularity, in the early 2000s, of Strapped Crew’s multisport approach to life. As windsurfing, in particular, has lost its cultural character, the sport has mostly been dropped by the modern water kids of Maui.
“All the kids he learned how to surf with, they all turned their backs on her and they all went surfing,” Martin said.
Lenny, who never changed course—except that his personal one revolves around relentless changes, in gear and competitive focus—began to lose surfing competitions to all these young professionals. Before long, he gave up on small surf competitions.
By the way, I mean by micro surf is regular old fashioned competitive surfing – as in, Not Surf the big wave. There isn’t a hard line between the two systems, but regular competitive surfing, of the kind that Kelly Slater and every other star surfer do, typically takes place on waves less than 20 feet on his face. The point is that this type of competitive surfing was, by the 1990s, quickly the main event in wind and surf sports. So Lenny’s abandonment of her was not without a social cost.
“I could see him being stressed all the time,” Martin said. And I say, ‘Kai, you know, do you just want to stick to one sport, maybe just surfing? And he looked at me, and said, “Why would I do that? Dad, my sport is so much fun. I don’t want to give them up. “Oh my God,” he said, “that was a huge backlash.”
For a while, Lenny avoided negativity by homeschooling, traveling the world competing in windsurfing and all of his other sports, surfing the big waves at Jaws—just like Hamilton, his childhood idol. Lenny was in his late teens, though, in 2010, when other men and women at Jaws figured out how to paddle old surfboards in bigger waves than conventional wisdom considered possible. By catching 60 feet with nothing but their own muscle strength, Maui’s new crew has reignited the popularity of traditional big surfing.