GoPro Athlete Kai Lenny Takes to the Seas for Coastal Cleanup
Sailing the seas and island hopping through Hawaii is a dream vacation for most. But for GoPro athlete, professional waterman and six-time SUP world-champion Kai Lenny, it’s just another day at work.
In March, Lenny traveled 200 nautical miles through the channels of the Hawaiian islands to raise awareness about the impact of pollution on oceans and coastlines, facilitating community beach clean ups on the Big Island, Maui, Lanai, Molokai, Oahu and Kauai. Lenny took the first-ever Hawaiian statewide coastal cleanup to a whole new level by traveling between the islands on human-powered crafts – namely a Hydrofoil SUP. The five-day adventure served dual purposes – first, to explore the ocean plastic problem and other environmental impacts on our waters, and second to train for a challenging upcoming competition season.
For this athletic passion project, Lenny teamed up with Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii and The 5 Gyres Institute to attend beach cleanups on six islands and empower communities around oceanic pollution. Attracting more than 300 participants across the events, the cleanup efforts removed 11,049 pounds of debris from the islands’ coastlines.
After completing the coastal cleanup – which would be a significant accomplishment by anyone else’s standards – Lenny then went on to SUP the 32-mile Ka’iwi Channel that connects the islands of Moloka’i and O’ahu, breaking the SUP world record by 41 minutes.
As the world prepares to celebrate Earth Day on April 22, Lenny and cleanup organizers are optimistic about the possibilities to end oceanic pollution. “Pulling off this many cleanups in one week was amazing,” said Kahi Pacarro, Executive Director of Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii. “When you look at all the debris on our beaches, sometimes it feels like there’s nothing we can do, but we’ve seen that the task is achievable with the help of passionate people. Thanks to Kai and all our volunteers, I feel like plastic pollution has an end in sight.”
Photo Credit: Alison Teal
"The downwind voyage for change blew my mind and the experience of hydrofoiling between the Hawaiian islands was euphoric. Most importantly, I learned more about the ocean I love and the vast impact of micro plastics and trash on our ecosystem. I feel a greater responsibility to protect the ocean, which has given me everything in my life. I couldn't have learned what I have without the help of @RedBull, @sustainablecoastlineshawaii and @5gyres."
To learn more about the ocean pollution problem and help raise funds to clean our beaches, visit morethansport.com/kailenny