Kai Lenny’s $1,500 Kite Board vs ORACLE TEAM USA’s $15 million catamaran…”It’s like bringing a knife to a gun fight,” said ORACLE TEAM USA grinder Matt Mitchell. Those were the comments of Jimmy Spithill, the skipper of ORACLE TEAM USA and the defenders of the America’s Cup.
The question was whether kite board champion Kai Lenny can outrace the new 72-foot catamaran of ORACLE TEAM USA.
Pink slips were on the line when Lenny put his $1,500 board up against the $15 million boat recently on San Francisco Bay. On the same course that will host the 34th America’s Cup in September, the two sides engaged in a bridge-to-bridge battle between the Golden Gate and Bay Bridge.
Kai Lenny got a significant jump out of the starting gate, launching his kite and harnessing the power of the winds to propel himself at 20 knots across the water (23 mph). This caught ORACLE TEAM USA off guard at first, before they found their rhythm and cranked it up to 30 knots (34 mph) to blow by the kite board.
“He got a really good start, so we just put the hammer down,” added Spithill.
Lenny, who was born and raised in Hawaii, achieved recognition in 2012 with a first place finish at the Hawaii Island Finals SUP pro, and first place at the Sunset Beach SUP pro. Kiteboarding combines aspects of wakeboarding, windsurfing, surfing, paragliding, and gymnastics into one action sport.
ORACLE TEAM USA will be looking to defend its America’s Cup title when racing starts September 7 in San Francisco.