And, among other revelations, Kai says, “The big wave tour sucks” and “I want to surf like Ethan Ewing.”
Seven years ago, Bill Finnegan’s Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir Barbarian Days threw me under the bus two days of obsessive reading.
I had already delved into Finnegan’s work in The New Yorker, including an excerpt from the book about his childhood in Hawaii. (read here) and I thought memoirs would be mildly entertaining but not particularly adventurous.
I imagined a writer with a loose bow tie and a drooping mustache. A delicate New York gentleman, a flabby amateur.
I had only gotten three chapters into the book when we suddenly camped out on Maui waiting for Honolua Bay to break up and, shortly after, camped on the deserted beach of Tavarua for a week and surfed a new discovery called Restaurants.
Finnegan came into my heart a bit later when I asked via email how the surf could be better reported.
“What I’m reading is far too advertiser-friendly. BeachGrit seems to be an exception…Surfing is an atypical journalistic niche because the interests of the surf industry, which very heavily funds surf media, are fundamentally at odds with the interests of most surfers… They want to “grow” the sport. We would like it to shrink, reducing the crowds.
The relationship deteriorated, I believe, when Longtom wrote a scathing review of his essay on Slater’s Lemoore Pool, also for The New Yorker.
You didn’t ask about the business plan bill? It really seems that you were too busy admiring Kelly the “beautiful boy” whose eyes have not deserted him.
Sorry Bill, your book was fabulous but the essay blew the goats away. Too much Slater Kool-Aid, not enough fact-checking.
Anyway, in the latest issue of The New Yorker, Finnegan takes a look at the life of Kai Lenny, the daring twenty-nine-year-old multi-sport surfer from Maui.
We learn that his wife Molly is the sister of Dusty Payne, who was dismissive of the relationship with SUP-riding Lenny, that he believes the big wave tour is a joke, takes vitamins via an intravenous drip, he would like surf like the Australian Ethan Ewing and he counts among his friends the richest men in the world.
Kai is tight-lipped about his thing with the tycoons. They want to be around him, especially the tech titans. Sergey Brin, one of the founders of Google, wants to go out on Kai’s support boat at Mavericks? Sure. “He’s super cool,” Kai says. In 2019 he spent some time on Richard Branson’s private island in the Caribbean, where he taught Sir Richard how to kitefoil – we know this mainly because Branson posted a Facebook video of the two of them. But Kai’s most elaborate billionaire bromance has been with Mark Zuckerberg. They went foiling together on Kauai, and the paparazzi caught Zuckerberg looking even dumber. Zuckerberg later described Kai as “magical,” then showcased his big metaverse game play with, among other things, a wacky VR skit about foiling with Kai. Even so, Kai has nothing uncharitable to say about him.
Read or listen here.