Kai Lenny wins Puerto Escondido Challenge and vaults to top of Big Wave World Tour Rankings

Kai Lenny Naish Puerto Escondido Challenge-1
Kai Lenny Naish Puerto Escondido Challenge-1
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Naish team rider Kai Lenny sat out the Molokai to Oahu legendary championship crossing this year … to claim the his first Big Wave World Tour win.  In classic Kai style, he moved through his heats at the Puerto Escondido Challenge, keeping his cool and, in the final moments in the Final Round, found a 20 ft wave that he was able to pull into a barrel and come out a champion.

Check out the video of the Final Round from the 2017 WSL Puerto Escondido Big Wave Challenge!

Kai Lenny’s Big Wave World Tour has begun

Kai’s performance today was nothing short of spectacular.  Deliberately side-stepping the Molokai to Oahu championship (which, rumor had it, he had planned to foil across the ‘Channel of Bones’) in order to compete in this Big Wave tournament created a statement and a furor throughout the standup paddling world that will not be forgotten.

Kai Lenny WSL Puerto Escandido Challenge 2017
Kai Lenny claims it as he pulls out of his barrel at the end of the Final Round in Puerto Escondido to own his win. A tremendous athlete & competitor. Congrats, Kai!

With three minutes left on the clock in the final of the Puerto Escondido Challenge, needing a 5.99, Kai Lenny pulled into a beautiful barrel for a winning score of 8.6 to take his first Big Wave World Tour win. Lenny has won multiple world titles in stand up surfing, but this is easily his biggest win in his surfing competitions.

I was bummed I missed Molokai this year, it was epic conditions,” said Lenny after his triumpant win, “But I made it into the semis (here) and I was like, ‘I gotta make my first final.’ I got out there in the final, started getting waves and things went my way.”

Jamie Mitchell places 2nd with a cracked sternum

Decade of Dominance super star Jamie Mitchell, also an M2O legend, led in that Final Round right up until the final moments.  His athletic performance was one hailed over and again by announcers who knew that this event was extraordinary for Mitchell in that he was surfing with a fractured sternum.

The adrenaline must kick in at some point,” said one announcer, “masking the pain.”

The fact that he was able to lay down on his board and paddle out into the first heat is unbelievable … much less to be leading in the FINALS,” said another.

Standup Paddle Champions win Big Wave Event

Overall the two paddle champions took the leader board by storm, leaving a multitude of incredible talent in their wake.

I remember coming here last year and being terrified,” Lenny said. “There are so many good big wave surfers, when you get called up you gotta’ go. I just got pounded most of the time until my final wave. It was a pleasure competing with these guys. Any of them could have won if they’d gotten the waves. I was happy to get that wave.”

Top 5:  WSL Puerto Escondido Challenge

  1.  Kai Lenny
  2. Jamie Mitchell
  3. Tom Lowe
  4. Billy Kemper
  5. Alex Botelho
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Evelyn O'Doherty, editor & publisher of the new Standup Journal 2.0 is a former school teacher gone rogue. She left her career as a teacher in order to spend more time near or on the water after learning to surf turned her life around (upsidedown?). She is a year-round surfer and paddler living on the eastern tip of Long Island in NY who is a certified SUP instructor, seasoned SUP racer and avid longboard surfer. Evelyn was hired as Online Editor to Standup Journal in 2016. Her passion for the project quickly led to her success and eventually taking over the mag herself in Oct. 2018. Today, as editor, publisher and chief bottle washer at Standup Journal, Evelyn keeps her toes wet writing, traveling, paddling, surfing, and learning to foil. You can find her most days paddling out on Gardiner's Bay or surfing Ditch Plains in Montauk, NY.