The Portal podcast transcription series
- Peter Thiel
- What is The Portal?
- Werner Herzog
- Timur Kuran
- Rabbi David Wolpe
- Jocko Willink
- Bret Easton Ellis
- Andrew Yang
- Bryan Callen
- Julie Lindahl
- Sam Harris
- Vitalik Buterin
- Garry Kasparov
- London Tsai
- Garrett Lisi
- Tyler Cowen
- Anna Khachiyan
- Eric Weinstein – State of the Portal 2020
- Bret Weinstein
- Sir Roger Penrose
- Ashley Mathews (Riley Reid)
- Ben Greenfield
- Agnes Callard
- Kai Lenny
- The Construct: Jeffrey Epstein
Geometric Unity – a First Look
- James O’Keefe
- Daniel Schmachtenberger
- Eric Lewis
- Jamie Metzl
- Ross Douthat
- Ryan Holiday
The following transcript was generated by a machine and not edited by any human – so it’s full of of errors. I’m posting the transcript because the podcast is excellent and a crappy transcript is better than no transcript. Questions/comments: get me on Twitter @mgmobrien.
Eric Weinstein 0:00
Hello, this is Eric, I wanted to give a small note to say today’s episode fits into the general arc of the portal. As many of you know, I’m a critic about what is going on in academics and in science and in the economy. With respect to innovation, I feel that we’re experiencing some kind of a very broad malaise and slowdown. On the other hand, whenever you allege that something is going generally environmentally wrong, is incumbent upon you to check that you aren’t in fact, in the middle of a depressive or negative episode, one of the things that I like to do is to check and see where the bright spots what are the things that inspire me? Where do I see people actually pushing the envelope, making breakthroughs? If I can spot those, then I can realize that it’s not me who’s dead, but in fact, a memory of what is possible that is actually causing the frustration. And in these circumstances, I sometimes look very far afield to see where people are actually innovating. And one of the places that I see a tremendous amount of innovation right now is surfing. At some point out of the corner of my eye, one particular surfer caught my attention. His name was Kyle, Annie. And it wasn’t as clear as it is now that he was onto something really special. As his skill has increased, he’s been taking on larger and larger waves. And I don’t know how to say this exactly, but playing with them. So before you watch today’s episode, put in the name Kai, Lenny, k, l, e, and why, and maybe words like Jaws, or NAS array, and watch what he’s doing. Because it’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Every time I look at it, it looks more like art than surfing. He’s effectively playing with some of the most frightening and dangerous waves in the world. And in some sense, it seems like a metaphor for where we are, that with many forces that are potentially incredibly threatening. A small number of us have the courage and strength and discipline, to instead of fretting and becoming integrated, we start playing with what the possibilities might be. Chi is experimenting in every technological dimension, every athletic dimension and I daresay every artistic dimension You can imagine, his famous phrase is, I feel like we’re just getting started. It’s hard for me to believe that there’s that much headroom given how close to the edge, it seems that he’s always playing. But even though I know that he’s taking his life making these videos for us and experiencing these waves, in the kind of perfect solitude that must accompany being inside a gigantic barrel, or falling down the face of what can only be called a liquid cliff, I know that Chi is actually serving something greater than the human spirit. And even though we can’t necessarily be in the wave with him, through the magic of helicopters or GoPro videos, or any of the incredible technologies that we’re now able to use to bring the experience closer to home. Kai is reacquainting ourselves with the sense of the possible what might lie within us, both as individuals and as a society. So I hope you’ll see this in this light. I hope you’ll take an interest in surfing whether you live in a landlocked country, or whether you’re old and maybe even disabled. what he’s doing is in fact, to me, hugely inspiring One of the places that I turn to when I start to feel extremely frustrated, so I feel hugely honored to be able to bring you Kyle any please take a look at his videos beforehand. And then once you’ve understood what it is that we’re all capable of through his efforts and antics, I think you’ll find that this interview is much more enjoyable. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Thanks.
Hello. I’m your host, Eric Weinstein. And I’m thrilled today because my guest is none other than Kyle anyhoo. I’ve been stalking on the internet. And recently in Maui actually, Kai, welcome to the portal.
Kai Lenny 3:41
Thanks for having me. On the portal.
Eric Weinstein 3:43
Okay. Well, look, the aim of this program is to talk about breaking through two worlds that people can’t even imagine exist. And there is no one who better exemplifies this at the moment than you because what I see us doing before even people love people People aren’t gonna know who you are, is that you are right now in the process of expanding the vocabulary in a very unusual area. So that I’m seeing things I’ve never seen before. Even though I’m not expert in your area, we talk about big wave surfing and what you’re doing to it.
Kai Lenny 4:18
Oh, my favorite thing in the world to talk about big wave surfing because it’s like the passion. I mean, just a quick background for everyone. You came and visited on Maui. And you saw my boardroom and you saw all this equipment and stuff. where I grew up is just down the road from what I would call the Mount Everest of big waves. jaws pay off he in Hawaiian pay, ah, he means the beacon or to be called, which is a perfect name, because when it starts to break, it almost sends this signal out to the rest of the world. And people come from all corners of life, to either surf or watch or film photography. Take photos of these giant waves and so When you’re born and raised with Mount Everest in your backyard, it’s inevitable you’re gonna have to go try to climb it right and big wave surfing you’re in it’s inevitable you want to go surfing as a little kid because before you know comic books and comic book movies, right? Mainly comic book movies were really big in the mainstream media. They’re my superheroes were the guys that were riding these monster waves. Now there was was there a comic book hero called the Silver Surfer? The Silver Surfer? Yeah, sure, I guess but it was like, I guess like, in Hawaii, we do live in a bubble. I’m not arguing against that at all. Because we’re, we’re not a part of the continental United States. We’re middle of the ocean 2000 miles away the most isolated landmass on the planet. And you everything that’s going on around you in Hawaii is what’s going around you you know, it’s there’s nothing A lot of there’s influence from other places thanks to the internet and stuff, but it’s such a scene over there. And Hawaii is a powerful place as well like in energy you can really feel that and it’s almost unexplainable. There’s a frequency that if you can match it will give you some of the most incredible moments your life and I’ll get into that more when when when I start talking about like the art of actually riding big waves. Yeah, and being in tune with the ocean and the frequency and I mean, why not just stop start talking about it now is the the
Eric Weinstein 6:30
No offense, I’m going to start off by just contradicting you you say that you are out there. Of course you have to ride it. You’re too modest because I talked to people who are living out there who are surfers who love it. And when I when I asked them, Do you go and surf this particular wave? The usual answer is now Dude, I’m not crazy. I mean, this wave when it when it breaks is really it’s a beast.
Kai Lenny 6:53
It’s a beast, but Okay, so just throw it back to when I was. Gosh, right. I think one of my earliest memories as a child, you know, all of a sudden it’s like you don’t remember anything and then maybe when you’re four years old or even younger, like three years old, all of a sudden there’s like, a distinct memory. Yeah, one of the most distinct memories I have as a kid is standing on the cliff watching jaws break. So there was already a seed plants from an early age. Highly, you know, curious kid. Super my superheroes the guys like equivalent of the Justice League and the Avengers were called the strapped crew. And they were the ones that pioneered peyote. He aka Jaws, and jaws
Eric Weinstein 7:39
don’t a name check them, huh?
Kai Lenny 7:41
Yeah, no, absolutely. So who who made up this strapped crew or guys that invented tow in surfing, which was the first, the first or still probably the best way to ride big waves on a high performance level. Laird Hamilton people have probably heard of him. Dave Coloma was another rush Randall, Derek Dorner, Pika brina, Robbie Nash, Mike Waltz, Brett likkle those guys kind of comprise this strap crew. And they’re all different characters. A lot of them windsurfing champions, a lot of them from different parts of the island islands you know from a wahoo as well as now of course, but they kind of were on Maui, Gerry Lopez, who’s like I would say, the equivalent of Yoda in surfing, you know, like he’s the all wise basically all knowing the, like, Master, the guru. He showed layered this way of back in the day like this is in the he’d been watching it since the early 80s. And very early 90s. They Jerry’s like okay, like he noticed Laird was really taking interest in big wave surfing on a wahoo which at the time was considered the best big waves on the planet. It means like I got something you might want to see and they walk through the pineapple fields, they get to the edge of the cliff. And all of a sudden Laird is shown the the golden goose the the the best big wave on the planet. It’s so perfect that if there’s not someone on it for scale, it looks like a small wave. It’s rare to find big waves that look six feet, but are really 60 feet. And so Jerry told me when I was a kid, and I always try to get them to repeat it is a story of like in the 80s when a giant swell came in, they were surfing this other break, which is also known as one of the best waves in the planet. Not best big wave but best wave. And it’s very similar to how jaws breaks just on a smaller scale. It’s called Honolulu Bay. Beautiful epic sunsets there. And he said one day after surfing they went up to jaws to go check it and it was so big that where we surfer now would have been whitewater and where the boats are would have been where the barrel So where the wave was breaking and creating a giant tube, he would he would approximate the waves were probably in the hundred foot range.
Eric Weinstein 10:09
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Kai Lenny 12:22
there was other nicknames or other names they call it before it was coined jaws jaws sort of came when Laird landed on the cover of National Geographic with a giant wave and he was just in boardshorts. And it was like, unbelievable shot, which I think he’s still the only surfer to ever be on the cover of National Geographic,
Eric Weinstein 12:39
but there’s so many ways that I want to get in underneath the story before I even get to like you and what it sure so, but I don’t even know where to begin. So first of all one the only thing that connects us really is that we’re both fascinated by waves. I’m fascinated in physics. You’re fascinated by ocean waves. Yeah. And one of the things that I find fascinating Is that these? These waves are sort of like intercontinental intercontinental exploration that has only happened recently. Like, we mapped all the land masses, but somehow they’re still relatively recently. Only relatively recently has there been certain discoveries of these really important surfable waves like Mavericks in Half Moon Bay? Yeah. not been explored for that long. And then yeah, and then you know, you’re saying with with jazz jaws and Pa. The thing that I find fascinating about this is that there was also this taboo around tow in surfing because of the the purity of surfing culture, and the ethos of it like you’re talking about it both as a sport and the beauty of the wave and the sunsets. Like it is the sort of kind of complete picture in world and there was something transgressive about towing and is that right
Kai Lenny 13:57
i think before anybody started kind of pinning tone surfing as being unnatural or not so full or whatever other kind of term they use. People were just blown away by the fact that you could ride away that big. And so it didn’t even matter at that point. Now, fast forward to present day people are paddling in and tow in Surfing is widely regarded within core surfers as cheating. But I think they forget that
Eric Weinstein 14:29
it’s that it would be the equivalent of going and climbing the mountain and skiing down versus taking the helicopter up and doing it 50 times. Isn’t there an issue about how fast the wave is moving? If it’s moving too quickly? It’s almost impossible to paddle in or is that changed?
Kai Lenny 14:44
I think it’s changed a lot. I mean, I think what people thought was impossible to paddle into is possible is just the best way I can describe it is when you’re trying to paddle into a really big wave. Just imagine there’s a platform or like a launching pad right that you can go from but the biggest The wave gets, the smaller that launching pad gets, where you can take off and make it Yeah, because it’s all about positioning, it’s triangulating yourself with the land around you. So looking at shore and finding two trees are two points that you line up with, okay, this is where I am on part of the reef, and then looking to your left and finding another point in lining up with the point. And so you kind of triangulate yourself in and that’s where you by, by checking where the waves are breaking, that’s how you figure out that you’re going to be in the right spot to get on that launching pad. Because if you’re too much on the shoulder, which is kind of away from the critical part of the way, you’re not going to catch it. If you’re too deep, you’re going to become part of the wave and go over the falls. So it’s that’s
Eric Weinstein 15:44
patently given that this is a non surfing program. Can we say that over the falls means getting swept up over the crest and being just shoved into the
Kai Lenny 15:52
Yes, over the falls would be the equivalent of jumping into the water and going over Niagara. Right like that’s the same thing like So you become the lip. The wave picks you up and yeah, I’m what we call it is the ride after the ride.
Eric Weinstein 16:07
Okay, so what I don’t really want to object in any way to tow in I don’t have these issues. So the main issue for me is innovation, right? Like the reason that I find this so fascinating is that I wasn’t around unconscious like in 68. I was three years old when dick Fosbury came up with the Fosbury flop and changed high jumping. And if you think back to like table tennis, this guy from Japan, I think his name is like Hiroshi Santos, put rubber on a hard bat paddle and change the game of table tennis forever. What I see you is doing and I could be wrong about this. I’ve been looking at you for several years not knowing because I’m not a surfing guy. Why am I caring about this one guy? It wasn’t quite so evident early Than it as it is now that suddenly, I’m seeing things that I just can’t believe I’m watching. And essentially what I think I’m seeing is that you’re taking some of the world’s largest waves. And instead of just like showing that they can be written, like actually just playing, and doing tricks and pushing every available, corner of performance, to eke out things that nobody knew was were possible. So you really inventing your own vocabulary of surfing to me. And then the thing that you said that just, you know, tore up my soul. I was watching you on some kind of unbelievable wave doing some trick. And you said, you know, the thing that blows my mind is I feel like we’re just getting started. And I thought, I thought we were already at the limits of what is doable. And your point of view was, I can see how much headroom I have. And it’s enormous. It’s Yeah,
Kai Lenny 17:56
I mean, it’s crazy. The there’s I think there’s more room for growth and high performance big wave riding, then there isn’t any part of surfing, maybe even any part of action sports because, you know, I’m just starting now to do 360s on big waves and do it confidently. But there’s really no reason why I shouldn’t be doing a triple cork something that Shaun White can do, you know, in a half bite, you know, something like that. So
Eric Weinstein 18:24
your feet aren’t tethered to your board, are they
Kai Lenny 18:26
on tone surfing, it is on tone, it’s really the only way to do it in big waves tone surfing, because of the speeds you’re reaching. The amount of wins even on a glassy day when there’s no winds on the face of the wave. Waves are moving fast enough. They’re producing their own local winds at the top. So you know, probably 20 knot winds 25 mile an hour winds on the top of these breaking waves. And so you and the boards are heavy to go through all that chop because I’m probably hitting 55 miles an hour at times and even faster, potentially in certain waves. riding my tone surfboard.
Eric Weinstein 19:03
Got it. So what I want to sort of just induce people to do is to Google and search for some of the epic rides that you’ve taken, that also alerted the world to the fact that something crazy was going on. So, you know, with Laird Hamilton, a very famous alert that went out to the planet was this photograph of him in Tahiti, which must have
Kai Lenny 19:28
been lynnium wave to you want to
Eric Weinstein 19:31
talk about how that affected
Kai Lenny 19:32
you. I mean, Laird was my was a superhero to me, even up to that point, and this is 2000. And Laird was known is known as writing and kind of like pushing the limits of big wave riding where people didn’t think it could go. Part I think that’s why I’m kind of inspired to follow in those footsteps like, and it might be a little different approach but for Laird when he rode that wave in 2000 And he just kind of like, blew the door open on what was possible. So what wave was it taught? Is this is Tahiti? Yeah. So this is in Tahiti, French Polynesia. Most Beautiful day ever. There’s this way of called Tahoe. People call it show poo, people call it chops. And it’s this wave that breaks in six feet of water on a shallow reef, comes from the depths of the ocean. It’s really deep on the other side and will make this wave so unique is it can displace the entire ocean instead of being instead of standing vertically, it just folds over so it’s almost like it’s the closest thing to a rideable tsunami there is. Because there’s no back to the wave. It’s just the whole ocean.
Eric Weinstein 20:42
It is the most beautifully perfect wave I’ve ever seen. And I’m there are two waves that have captivated me just visually. And they’re the exact opposite of each other. So this and how should I say should I say tofu?
Kai Lenny 20:57
Well, you can say it however you want. What does it mean? Can you
Eric Weinstein 20:59
translate it’s got a good Nice.
Kai Lenny 21:00
Oh yeah, this is this is great. So Tahoe yeah Shoku is translates to broken skulls. Yeah. And it’s not because of the wave, but that area is like culturally significant. They call it the end of the road. It’s where the road ends. And that’s where that wave is right at the end. But back in the day, there used to be really big battles in Tahiti. And people’s skulls were put on steaks and they would be stuck in the sand there, and it just kind of fit perfect. That’s one of the gnarliest waves that could stick you on a steak is just maybe 200 300 yards off shore, fairly shallow reef so shallow, so sharp razors, just imagine razor blades on the bottom you touch it barely. It’s just your you get ripped apart and a classic Tahitian tradition is you line them after to kill any bacteria because the reefs are so alive there that it’s really easy to get staph infection. And so instead of using anything That’s like by modern medicine standards or less painful. They lie on you and it is hard It’s like putting acid in your wounds It hurts so bad because you know the acidic the nature of limes are pretty acidic and so it just feels it’s killing everything in there but it’s also stinking horribly bad and there’s nothing worse when you get cut you try to hide it from like all your friends and the local t shirts because they seem like line and people it’s it’s hilarious find so much pleasure in seeing you just like squirm as they like line your back. And it’s good because it kills. Yeah, any staff that could possibly take you but at the very same time it’s miserable. You already go through a horrible experience and then you have to do it again.
Eric Weinstein 22:45
Well, this this wave is not the tallest but it’s one of the heaviest waves in the world, just in terms of the mass of water.
Kai Lenny 22:51
Yeah, I mean, it kind of defies like belief when people first see it, especially in person. It’s not that the wave naturally it’s slowly Like the wave gets displaced as it comes in and hits the roof. And typically what happens is water is shot vertically and right foot creates a tall wave, there’s a back to the wave, it’s usually half the size of the front of the wave. But because there’s all that mass pushing behind it, but at tofu, the way it hits the reef, it just shoots the lip forward and the whole oceans behind it, and it draws all the water off the reef back into the ocean. And so you’re surfing at below sea level. If you’re writing a 30 foot wave there, you’re 30 feet below sea level, you’re in like a pit. And you can see the water going back up the reef in front of
Eric Weinstein 23:37
it almost doesn’t make sense.
Kai Lenny 23:38
Yeah, no, it’s just, it’s a freak of nature. And certain waves do that. But this one’s the king of it. It’s the best. It’s I like to call it the most perfect clothes out on the planet because and all the photos you see of it, it looks like this perfect wave. And it is for a little bit. But as you’re writing, there’s a right hander that’s coming at you. So there’s a wave that’s equal in size that’s going to close out What
Eric Weinstein 24:00
was that all that missed that right at the end so
Kai Lenny 24:02
that’s called spit. You know when you see a breaking wave as it barrels, it’ll shoot like a cannon and all that water. It’s the compression of water these big waves waves in general are like cannons or like guns. So when you’re riding in the tube, you can feel air. It’s a vortex right? It’s a vortex. And so it’s sucking air in like a jet engine like and then the wave there’s so much water moving, the air can’t escape. So it goes the least resistance which is back out the tube, and it explodes and it shoots chunks of water that can knock you off your board. Probably hundreds of pounds of like water that are like shooting you and it hurts really bad like it feels certain waves. It feels so good like getting just the only time it feels good to be spat on.
Eric Weinstein 24:50
Well, you said this thing to me about barrels that I never thought of maybe it’s a commonplace in surfing but I’d never heard it which is that a barrel is a unique experience because of you said something about the only time that
Kai Lenny 25:06
Yeah, well, riding inside a tube, a barrel, a wave, basically the hollow part of the wave as it pitches over. It’s unique because it’s the only way we can breathe underwater without any other breathing apparatus. So that was amazing. And it feel like a fish for a second, you know, and there’s something about waves that break and the negative ions they produce that, you know, make you feel so good. So you can imagine being in this kind of capsule or this vortex, you’re so focused on making it it’s all that’s on the front of your mind that there’s a moment when nothing else exists, and time slows down. It’s like you really are almost, I don’t know if accessing more parts of your brain or what it is, but what feels like tense, what is four seconds, feels like a minute. That’s amazing, and you’re just in there and I’m watching water droplets move by me at like matrix speed, everything looks like the matrix. And if you’re really calm, and you’re really comfortable, you can look you have time to like, look around and absorb all this information. And then all of a sudden, as it spits, and you come out of the tube, it’s like life just starts going back to normal speed, and you realize how life fast life moves. Because in there, it’s like, you have all the time in the world, it feels like and it’s, it’s what it’s probably the pinnacle of what you could do surfing. Better than any maneuver any aerial, acrobatic trick. So being in the tube.
Eric Weinstein 26:38
The portal is proud to welcome back returning sponsor one access, but I think we’re gonna throw away the script because they recently invited me for a wine tasting event built around a bottle of wine. That is incredibly important in my family and wine access knows nothing about it. So let’s just give it a shot. Right before my brother Brett and sister in law Heather hi and got married Heather’s parents, Douglas and Jesse hi and took us out for a wonderful dinner right before For the wedding, they pulled out a bottle of wine and poured it for everybody. I wasn’t thinking much about it. And as I tasted the wine suddenly everything stopped. What was this wine I had no idea. It was one of the most distinctive glasses I’ve ever tried. And it was the first time I think I was feeling that I could tell that this was a great wine. It turned out to be silver oak Cabernet Sauvignon, a legendary and sometimes controversial wine in California, but an incredibly important and sort of landmark bottle. When I went to the event in West LA, it brought back the memory of Heather’s father, who is now passed, and I think I’ll tell more about that story the next time. But a great bottle of wine is more than just a beverage. It’s an ability to stop time to create some kind of a marking to let you know that something significant is happening in your life. And it also gives you the ability to conjure people who’ve left us so Thanks, Doug with wine access.com slash a poodle, you’re going to get yourself one hell of a bottle with wine access comm slash portal, so why not order them by Tonight, you get $100 off and support the show by going to wind access comm slash portal, you’ll be glad you did. It’s always interesting when you’ve been a fan of a product for years and then they show up as your latest sponsor. And that’s the case with newest sponsor clear. Now when I get to airports, I’m usually cutting it a bit fine yet I’ve only missed one flight my entire life. One of my secrets. Well, I use clear by using my eyes and my fingertips as my ID. They’re incredibly courteous personnel rush me through airport security so I don’t have to run to my gate. It’s incredibly easy to sign up and it reduces my anxiety a great deal knowing that I’m not going to be hit with the same lines that I would be if I wasn’t using the service of clear Not only that, it’s also being used in stadiums and your family can sign up easily for the service and in fact get the benefits of it at a reduced cost clear is the absolute best way to get through airport security. It works great with pre check to and right now listeners to the show can get their first two months of clear for free. So go to clear me comm slash portal and use code portal that’s CL e AR m e comm slash portal. Using code portal for your free two months of clear clear me comm slash portal. But so that too, I just I geek out on it because it’s such an incredibly unbelievable, I can’t even imagine that something that beautiful and perfect exists. The other version of beauty that I’m drawn to is this other totally different wave. Yeah. Which I think you said you may be headed towards, which is the ship, Stern’s bluff. It has mania. Yeah. Which is the gnarliest ugliest. It’s waves within waves. And you know, quantum field theory is this concept beyond quantum mechanics. It’s waves upon waves are. And so this waves within waves concept, even though it’s all obviously classical, is really evocative to me. And there’s this thing inside of this crazy Tasmanian thing, which people which forms like a ledge and I’ve watched people fall off of it a bunch. Yeah, you want to use it as a jump?
Kai Lenny 29:58
Oh, absolutely. Well, you know, what’s it Interesting, there’s not that many crazy big waves in the world. They’re big waves. But then there’s waves that are in the league of their own. You could say choke who’s in a league of its own jaws nazzer A Mavericks, which is here in California. And chip Stearns is one of them as well. And they all have different personalities and the art of writing these big waves is finding the personality and kind of matching your the best of you with them. But what makes ships turns exciting, and the reason why they call it shifts turns is because the way the cliff is situated, it looks like the front of a massive ship, maybe the Titanic or something there. No, but I know all about that way. You know, because I, I’ve been studying it kind of getting ready to go and I’ve had opportunities to go and it hasn’t worked out. I mean, big wave surfing, you could be halfway across the world on your way and the forecast can switch in a flash, and you turn around and go home because something even breaking or the winds are gonna be bad and Tasmania is very susceptible to bad weather just because it’s really as close to Antarctica as you’d get and all those massive storms that pretty big waves oftentimes slam that island. And but what makes that wave so raw and so heavy is, well, it is really cold water, but it’s the the bathymetry the bottom, the what we would call the reef, which is really just rocks there has a bunch of it’s not an uneven surface. And so as it mapped, I know but I just know from experience and I mean, if you you can look into videos about they, they basically talk a lot about all these other because
Eric Weinstein 31:30
i’ve i’ve saw underwater photography of the wave breaking from below, and it’s one of the most confusing and gorgeous things I’ve ever seen.
Kai Lenny 31:39
It’s pretty, I mean, there’s always like hidden features to Reeves or to the bottom contours that you don’t necessarily realize. But for the most part, if you’ve been surfing a long time and especially in big waves, certain things equal other things so
Eric Weinstein 31:55
so you can infer what the bottom must look like from the gnarly aspect of that.
Kai Lenny 31:59
Yeah, just By seeing those ledges in the, the ledges within the face so this way of the way it breaks is it’s like a right hander choco but maybe not quite as displacing of the ocean, but it has all these like, steps they call them yeah face the wave. So miniature waves within the wave you can have like for miniature waves in the face. And that is like if you go to a river, and you look at a river and and you see a little standing wave right before you’ll see some turbulence right before that’s because there’s lightly uneven rocks right before it and so underwater, there’s these rocks that come up that kind of ever so slightly displace the wave in such a way that it makes these mini waves in between. But everyone the way people typically ride it is a kind of those are speed bumps and they try to get through that as quick as they can to get into the barrel and I’d say my vision for it and it’s a scary one anything you try new and big waves is horrifying because it’s like the consequences are severe beat downs and you know Possibly drowning, but is hitting these small little waves and doing aerial maneuvers off of them. And then as soon as you land have the whole wave break over you and you’re in the tube, and then come out, it’s really like being a drug addict and you just need a harder drug or something because you can ride big waves all the time. You can surf in general all the time. But for me, I feel like I need to constantly upping it because it’s not as satisfying as the last time I did it. And also I’m all about progression as well. Like I love getting the the feeling of getting better and maybe that go coincides with it. Right? Never done drugs in my life, but I can imagine what it might
Eric Weinstein 33:36
DSPs you have
Kai Lenny 33:38
Yes, yeah, it is a drug but a natural one, right?
Eric Weinstein 33:41
Well, this is the this is the thing when I look at I mean, and again, I don’t view you within surfing, I view you as like Rodney Mullen or Eddie Van Halen, or Alex Honnold like they’re just these people who are meant to change what we know about about each of these sports, they’re all within a context. You have a lot of colleagues who you’re learning from and you’re teaching. Yeah, but I do see you is what do you see as differentiating your approach? That, you know, if everybody’s got kind of a secret signature, and you were talking about your own expression relative to the wave? What would you say is defining the difference? What am I picking up on? I don’t know anything about surfing at all?
Kai Lenny 34:24
Well, I think, from my own personal perspective, I’m just kind of, and I think a lot of other people that do really cool things. Like I think I’ve heard Alex Honnold talk about this, as well as like, you don’t really know any better. It’s just kind of who you are. And it kind of sort of happens and it’s, and in my perspective, it is sort of the environment that you spent the most time in or that experience that led to this point. And so when I go out in the water, it’s not like I’m going out there with the intention to change things or tried to recreate the landscape. It’s more like, oh, son, I got this idea. And that sounds really fun. And I think I could do it. You know, it’s like, it starts with a little whisper in your head, like, maybe this is possible, then you do it and then all of a sudden you look around and people appreciate it. And without people appreciating it, I don’t think I would know if it was significant or
Eric Weinstein 35:18
not. I need the feedback loop. I think Riley Boland was basically having a conversation with himself.
Kai Lenny 35:23
Yeah, like, Well, I know what I want to do. But sometimes, like when you’re surfing a big wave, you don’t know how big the wave is behind you. For example, if I never saw a photo or if no one told me if it was an early I might get so used to it. So comfortable. I was talking to my brother about this the other day about being starting to get desensitized by certain size waves now, I mean, I spent out of the last two weeks well terrifying. Yeah, it is. But you get comfortable. You know, you spent so much time in it. spent the last eight days surfing big waves out of two weeks, and I was at NASA and I went to jaws and
Eric Weinstein 35:58
desert is this port. Gies wave that comes out of an underwater Canyon, where all of like the energy is being focused. And maybe it’s almost close to the tallest surfable wave in the world.
Kai Lenny 36:10
Yeah, that is, that’s probably the most consistent big wave. And I think we should that’s an in depth conversation that plays. But real quick, I’m just to kind of finish off this. Sorry. I mean, no, no, no. But to finish off sort of this kind of thought on becoming desensitized a little bit and talking about like, yeah, how you kind of need feedback, there was this one particular wave, I’m not meaning to toot my horn at all. But there was this one particular wave where I got interesting feedback from my brother afterwards where the way I was approaching it, and I you might have seen it on my social media, my Instagram is that really big barrels wearing an orange vest, and I wrote it for a long time, and I end up getting spit out was probably one of my best big wave barrels ever. But the interesting thing about that is I was I was so focused on reading the curve of the wave and when you’re taking off on a wave of Jaws, the whole thing is a horseshoe, it bends around you, and taking in certain aspects of it, I could read what it’s gonna do. It’s like predicting the future. Like if it hits the roof just in this way, the way it’s gonna barrel really hard, I’m gonna be standing in a cave, or standing in like a huge tunnel. And without thinking twice or how big it was, I just bought them turned, I did what we call a check, turn. So it’s a turn mid phase, to burn my speed off the toe board. And then I just stood there and I lived inside this tube for a couple seconds. But afterwards, I was talking to my brother, and he was like, like, how was that barrel earlier? You know, he jumped off the cliff and I picked them up on a jetski and I was getting him some waves. And he was like, he’s like, how do you stall for that? And, and like, do that and I’m like, honestly, like, no. Big like, it didn’t feel that big. He’s like, that was the biggest wave of the day so far. And and I was like, that’s really kind of weird. I think I’m like getting a little desensitized by what I’m seeing because it’s becoming such an often occurrence set. It’s becoming more normal all of a sudden. And yeah, it’s still terrifying surfing big waves at all is terrifying.
Eric Weinstein 38:05
Like a huge drop on, I think was on jaws that like the world was buzzing about.
Kai Lenny 38:11
Yeah, yeah, that was like last year.
Eric Weinstein 38:13
And can you talk about that? And is that an example of something where you didn’t realize just how gnarly it was until you looked at the footage?
Kai Lenny 38:19
Yeah, absolutely. So I had been riding there. We had a big wave competition, and it got too big for paddling surfing. So the waves were in the 60 to 7080 foot range. And I decided to go toe in surfing because
Eric Weinstein 38:33
they called this off.
Kai Lenny 38:35
Yeah, so we’re in the middle of this contest in the way it’s just got too big. And problem with getting too big was also the wind factor. It got really windy. And the wind was blowing up the face making it really difficult to catch the wave because it was just trying to blow you out the back end. It’s your surfboard turns into an airfoil it becomes a wing. Yeah. And you start flying through the air and to do that in competition. I mean, it’s just really dangerous. I mean, that morning, the heat Before they canceled it guys were passing out underwater hitting the water so hard having concussions, they were blacking out. People were coming up spitting blood out of the lungs. Maybe one person in the final heat made a wave and that’s when the decision came. Okay, it’s like too gnarly like we’re all for big wave surfing and big wave competitions but in a contest is never worth losing someone’s life over anything. You know, it’s not like big wave surfers get paid that much either to compete right. And so they ended up canceling it it was a group decision from most of the surfers that they didn’t want to continue because for fear of someone not coming home to their family, and
Eric Weinstein 39:40
but on the other hand, a total moron might think cool, there’s no one in the water. I’m gonna go for it.
Kai Lenny 39:45
I guess I’m That moron. That’s what I’m talking about
Eric Weinstein 39:48
talking about what happens next well so I just saw this stuff and I flipped out of it just insane.
Kai Lenny 39:54
Well, so I couldn’t paddle anymore. And with tow in surfing, which is When and to explain to people who don’t know what tone Surfing is, it’s a jetski with a wakeboard rope on the back of it, and you use it to get towed into these massive waves. So you eliminate paddling altogether. And it’s just a slingshot into these giant waves. And you’re riding a board that’s much smaller versus a 10 foot board, right? You’re on a six foot board. And, and so I just ended up having the best session of my life up to that point, because there was no one around everyone didn’t want to serve because they didn’t want to inch get injured. Because the contest was going to run the next day, I always would be smaller. But for me, big wave surfing was never about competing. It was always a spiritual aspect. That’s where I found myself kind of it was almost became my religion. Because when you look at a big wave, it’s like looking in a mirror in
Eric Weinstein 40:44
that moment is the most transcendent thing. I think this goes into the name you can find on Chi show, right?
Kai Lenny 40:50
Yeah, yeah, yeah. So there’s, they made videos and they called it the chi show because I was the only one out
Eric Weinstein 40:55
I’m just saying that it’s you can you can search on it from that. Yeah, and What I got out of it was was transcendence like this, this one man, in this very vulnerable position, you don’t need to know much about surfing, you know what kind of risks you’re taking out there.
Kai Lenny 41:11
Yeah, it will. So it stems from passion first and then it stems from a lot of hard work and focus and determination and over not overcoming fear, but being kind of in line with it. As soon as you eliminate fear, it’s when you get injured, especially in big waves because you make brass brash decisions. So
Eric Weinstein 41:30
you are in essence, to me, a risk manager like you wouldn’t be here to be having this conversation. If you weren’t playing the same role that like if you were running a hedge fund, you have to figure out what can I afford to take what can I afford to take calculate the calculation so that we all look at this stuff? I mean, it’s also there’s like a very weird aspect of the psychology I mean, I don’t know it in surfing my you know, and and other places. On the one hand, it’s like a very alpha male dog minute sort of activity looking. Yeah, but on the other side of that, you have to submit to the wave like, it isn’t gonna win. It isn’t a way into the act of submission, right and acceptance and acceptance because once you’ve committed to that thing, your choices disappear to an extent you have a limited amount that you can’t you can’t say, too big for me once you’ve already committed you’re in.
Kai Lenny 42:23
Oh, yeah, no, like, I mean, what I love most about big wave surfing in the draw is you look at a big wave and it’s a mirror and you realize who you like there’s no hiding there’s no lying to yourself, who you are in that moment in your life is right in front of you. And you know it clear as day and you can either work on it or you can be stuck that you know of who you are in that moment because it’s it’s you’re you’re facing death straight in the face. And fear is never been more relevant or more powerful in that moment. And there’s There’s something so satisfying and scary though of accepting acceptance of fear, it’s like a release, it’s like relief, you kick out of a big wave and you were just on that the edge of your life and if you fail, you’re just worried you may never come back up or you might get absolutely destroyed. And the fear just washes off of you like, you know, dirt in a shower. And you just stand there and it’s just you feel pure, you know, it’s like all your sins are forgiven or something and, and, and I that’s I that’s what I love so much about big wave surfing is it just makes me feel most alive and the more I do it, I think it’s given me it’s making everyday normal life harder like to cope with.
Eric Weinstein 43:45
So we I’ve talked about this recently with a pornographic actress, that there’s an issue about what happens when you do something that hyper stimulates you, and you have trouble getting back to a normal baseline because there is this sort of donek shift in what your normal is. Sure. And in large measure, what I see is, how do you have a normal day after your day at the office being playing on the sides of temporary cliffs?
Kai Lenny 44:12
Oh, it’s, I mean, if I’m being at all honest, it’s a normal average day is torture, leisure, it’s like, because you don’t have that same stimulation, you’re not. There’s, I guess things start to lose purpose. Because when you’re riding a big wave, there’s a purpose of living right you know, and the purpose of like living in as you’re not you’re, you don’t want to die, but you’re also you’re also experiencing something so pure and profound and feels bigger than yourself. You know, like the act of writing a big wave feels. There’s almost like that the egotistical kind of feeling godly for one moment, you know, so this is the thing flying too close to the sun, like Icarus, you know, exactly waiting for your wings to members
Eric Weinstein 44:55
in front of the gods. You see, that’s the first element of Greek tragedy and what is see is that I’m used to watching big waves where there’s some different.on every wave and I watched the dot, which is this human being, just just hang on for the ride. And if they can just do that, that was that was what I was used to. Then like I see the dot jump and do a 360 on the way like it’s playing. And it does, it feels like mythically wrong. Like, wait, that wave is huge, but I’m going to play with it rather than just just submit and accept it.
Kai Lenny 45:32
Well, so kind of like, if you have you’ve watched Christopher Nolan’s inception, right? You know how they go from a dream into another. Yeah, the way I look at like riding a big wave is you have the baseline, which is just the act of writing it going straight, surviving it kicking out you have that 32nd experience, and then you can and then there’s, and then that takes a certain amount of focus. And for me doing maneuvers on big waves, all of a sudden it’s it’s it’s like Like putting that one scary experience and putting it to the side. And as I’m rotating through a maneuver or a trick like a 360 down the wave, I have to I’m looking at the water, I’m focused on what’s going on with myself. And then it’s like when I land I pop back into a different part of reality. And then when I kick out, I’m back to like, Normal Reality, my mice my baseline, so
Eric Weinstein 46:23
you’re aware of several different colonies living between the same set of ears, the trade off on an individual wave, hundred percent.
Kai Lenny 46:31
Yeah, so and I could go like, I feel like the most I’ve been able to go is maybe three levels deep. Or maybe four, four. When you go four levels deep. It’s when you’re riding a wave. And all of a sudden, you don’t, you’re not, you’re on such the edge. You don’t know that you don’t know what you’re doing to make it work. And when you kick out, you start questioning what you did and then you actually forget how you did it. You’re like what just happen? And it’s kind of like me sitting Here in the heart of Los Angeles, I almost feel like that other kailani that does it I sometimes question like, gosh, well, like, I’ve done it. Like, let’s say I did it 100 times. But I question if I can ever do it again, like, I don’t know if I have the confidence to say that. Again.
Eric Weinstein 47:16
In this case, it’s like a different person in this conversation. You’re just some cool dude that I met in Maui. And there’s nothing that suggests that the person that I’ve seen on these myriad different videos is that guy in other words, you’re talking about this. But oh, yeah, there’s no aspect of the the person who does those incredible things. You’re just now just saying, Well, here’s what I remember about that. Yeah. And so when you meet somebody, like, you know, if you if you’re talking to Albert Einstein, and you were going to McDonald’s with him, and you’re just ordering a hamburger, there would be nothing Albert Einstein ish about his act of ordering a hamburger. And so like, it’s a very weird thing. The way the mundane and the transcendent collide and sometimes the person who has this transcendent ability when they’re in their mundane head, they can’t even imagine that that’s who they are. Do you ever have that?
Kai Lenny 48:13
Oh, yeah, no, I totally have that. It’s kind of like the fear will I ever get to that level again, sort of thing. But there’s a there’s a moment where I’m starting to identify when the switch happens. And it usually happens because to get to big waves, you usually round a corner, whether it’s on a boat or a car or whatever, or walking down the beach, you come around a corner and all of a sudden the wave is revealed. It’s like the reveal of a movie like all of a sudden you see the monster you see the building or you see whatever it is that you
Unknown Speaker 48:41
feel that would appeal,
Kai Lenny 48:43
oh my god every time so you turn the corner and you see plumes of spray going hundreds of feet in the air. And in the distance, maybe a mile away. You see this monster breaking and, and your heart starts to skip a little bit and you’re like, Oh my gosh, like, here we go. And I could start feeling the switch. Kind of starting to move. And then all of a sudden I pull up and I see the the canvas that is the wave breaking and the perfection and any fear that I had the night before. Because it’s not like I don’t live in fear at all like the night before. I’m like scratching my head. I’m like, I got myself into what am I doing? Was it like Bruce rude comment, Bruce
Eric Weinstein 49:18
Banner is going to have to fight. And he’s not the Hulk yet. And so he has to approach the fight. And before it becomes the Hulk at some level, it’s terrifying because you’re signing up to do something that you’re not capable of doing until you make the transfer. It’s
Kai Lenny 49:32
a great analogy. I’m definitely because I’ll pull up on the jetski and all sudden see a wave just sweat and it’s a 60 foot wave and it’s terrifying and, and and you know, everything about it is like you’d want to avoid being caught in there. You know, like, how can the human body live through something like that. But then all of a sudden, I get all this energy, and I and I’m like, let’s go, let’s go and I’m whoever I’m with. I’m trying to rush them off the jetski or, I’m trying to grab my board to paddle out or I’m getting them to drive and I’m like, Let’s go and I’ll find myself sitting out on the water. Doing like I have kind of this breathing exercise I do, it’s like breathe in for two seconds out for just a, it’s just really mellow. And it’s just really to get a lot of oxygen in my lungs, but it’s also to like, have like, shortness of mind. And, and then the sometimes for waves in a set will come in. So it’s not like just one big wave comes in and breaks. There could be four stacked in the horizon, we call those set. And, and, and it’s like, it’s always a bit of chess to try to figure out which one’s gonna be the best wave. Because I’ve had a millions of waves where I’ve kicked out not millions, but lots of waves where I’ve kicked out and you see the perfect big wave behind it, and you’re like, Oh, my God, why did I go on the first one and you’re kicking yourself, but so so I’m usually I’m usually really like, I would say, reserved, in the fact when like, I hate asking people for to go out of their way for something like hey, you know, is it okay? Like, even if I’m staying at someone’s house, like, so can I get some water? You know, it’s just who I am, I would say amen. Like a base level, but all of a sudden, I think my commander inside me or kind of like, the general sort of comes out where it’s like my driver, I’m telling me exactly when you see I’m like number two, which is the second way. No, no, no, no Faster, faster, let’s go. And I’ll send them yelling, and I love this person. And later on, I feel guilty, and I sometimes apologize, but they understand that I’m out there with a purpose and trying to catch a wave. And it’s like, you do have assigned to command a situation,
Eric Weinstein 51:28
you do have some kind of a split personality, because like when we came and visited you, you could not have been more hospitable to some. Like I mean, the funny part is, if I understand correctly, you first found out about me because you were a Joe Rogan watcher. Yeah, exactly. And I said, Hey, are you watching what’s going on in surfing? That’s where innovation is happening now and I shouted out your name and I see on Instagram. Hey, this dude, shout it out my name or something. I’m thinking like, how does that guy even know that I exist?
Kai Lenny 51:55
That you know what? It’s the same way. How does someone like you
Eric Weinstein 51:57
know, exit? Oh, no. It’s like
Kai Lenny 52:00
I just feel like, you know, in my world I’m trying to break out of my own personal bubble, like, it’s not a bubble in terms of like, get seen by other people more, but it’s like, I think we all find ourselves in our own world. And, and, and I innovative, if I’ve learned anything from big wave riding is is trying to be uncomfortable more often like every day if I can be a little uncomfortable, it’s probably positive, because it means that I’m experiencing something that I’m not used to it whatsoever, you know,
Eric Weinstein 52:31
let’s talk about some of the technology that’s changing what it is that you do. If you think about like, you’re a painter, you’re talking about Canvas. All right, well, now you got more brushes and paints to paint with. So what I see and correct me if I’m not getting it from outside. So this foil 100 foil underneath the boards is making it possible to be like effectively Aladdin on a magic carpet where you’re surfing above the water. Then there’s this kite thing going on where You’re really accessing the wind to jump at levels that just seem absolutely insane their safety equipment, which is weirdly like only recently available to decrease the the probability that you’re going to get held down,
Kai Lenny 53:18
I think what all those things have in common and this is what’s really cool about watersports. And the the real connection is things are invented out of necessity, just like everything in life, but really, it’s it’s in created in the name of fun. Like, how can I have more fun? What can we do to make it more fun? Oh, this is the solution. And like big wave surfing, it’s fun until you drown. So that inflation vest you’re talking about it’s a similar concept is the one that’s under your seat when you fly on an airplane, co2 canister and airbag in a wetsuit, pull a cord, the thing inflates and if you become a buoy, and it’s in the name of fun because now all of a sudden, it’s given people like me the opportunity to ride these big waves And focus less on trying to not drown. But more on what can we do on these big waves? Like how what kind of experiences can I have on them. And that’s where I say that the limit is still yet to be totally tapped into. Especially with tow in surfing, paddle surfing people are put constantly pushing the edge, because it’s, it’s an act of it’s really like going hunting with, you know, a knife, you know, it’s like going hunting with a knife versus, you know, going out with all the technology in the world, and it’s just different. It’s a different approach. And some might say, it’s, it’s not pure whatever. Well those people don’t actually surfing wave, so who cares? But for me, I love technology. Yeah. And I love when they merge with like, what’s the craziest
Eric Weinstein 54:47
thing you’re thinking about with technology
Kai Lenny 54:50
and constantly trying to figure out how to do something better, you know, and I think what blows people’s minds away the most is the hydrofoil. Yeah, and what those capabilities are, it’s like Underwater airplane attached to a large fan attached to a board and lets you glide like your seagull and gives you an illusion of flight. And I think almost everybody has a dream of wanting to just soar through the air, you know, like be a bird, and you can’t see what’s lifting you up out of the water when you’re writing these things. All you can all you feel sees the board around you and the water moving. And when I first did it, I started when I was nine years old, but when I kind of hold, you know, I’m 27 Okay. But but there was 2016 was kind of the year of reinvention of it, kind of the rebirth of it. Originally, it was adopted from the air chair, which was what you would ride behind a water ski boat, and those guys would sit down on they do incredible maneuvers, but they had the rope and you know you had to be towed around the lake and then Laird Hamilton rush Randall, Dave Coloma Derek Dorner, all these guys strapped crew took it, put snowboard boots on it and their goal was read the biggest waves ever written. Nothing Problem with riding big waves and this is what led them to the hydrofoil was the chops going up the face wave gets so big that on normal board you can’t go fast enough hydrofoils have giant fin it cuts right through it like a hot knife through butter. And so they that was they were pushing into the big wave realm and then come 2016 I had a vision of instead of trying to ride the biggest waves in the world on this, why don’t we try to read the smallest waves in the world on this. And that opened the door the floodgates for making terrible surf anywhere in the world feel like it’s the best waves on the planet. And because you don’t need a perfect wave to feel like you’re on one because you can glide on parts of the wave that are far away from where a traditional surfboard has its limit. And it also opened the door for crossing large bodies of water. Now for fun what we do in Hawaii and we do races now is we cross between each island writing a board that’s may at times no wider than four feet, and you’re hovering and you feel like a burden. You go from one island
Eric Weinstein 57:06
to another like Molokai to Oahu.
Kai Lenny 57:08
Yeah. Like Molokai to walk every Island you can you can go between. It’s just how long do you want to be out in the ocean for what’s your time and Molokai to Oahu is for as a is a 32 mile channel crossing. And I could do it just above two hours to our mark is right there, which is exciting. But the coolest thing is is like, if there’s when I first did it, there was this. There’s this euphoric
Eric Weinstein 57:33
feeling by pumping.
Kai Lenny 57:36
Well, so pumping is kind of like the flapping of a bird. You know, like, that’s how they create more lift when they need it. But if you play your cards, right, and you the best way to read the open ocean swells is imagine you’re playing a game of chess or if you were playing kind of like you know, what’s that game like in an arcade where the ball bounces around and you get a bunch of different points and you try to Get it into that one like 1000 point hold Gosh, what is it called again?
Eric Weinstein 58:04
The Pachinko that the Japanese want to pinball pinball? Okay,
Kai Lenny 58:07
okay you’re trying to pinball between swells Ting Ting Ting and if you you go from one school to the next to the next thing is you’re you’re you’re gaining the energy and the lift underwater, the vortex that’s coming up these little waves and creating lifts, you don’t have to pump so in a perfect in a perfect line. You’re You’re just turning and you’re snowboarding It feels like you’re going downhill the whole time. If you and you might pump to get to the next swell if you have to if it’s spread out far enough. And it’s so I would say more even it’s physically taxing to use every fiber of your body because you’re using your arms to create energy to help your legs pump this board to go faster because it’s always about going quicker. And then your mind has to focus on reading the ocean and if you miss time it or you miss read it, you stop you come to a dead stop. And so if you if you’re really on it, it’s like reading it I feel like it’s when I read a really like, dense book, lots of heavy words that I don’t understand and have to really think about it. That is like doing a channel crossing because every single wave you see isn’t the same. It’s all slightly different and you’re trying to navigate it. And it’s playing chess, you know, you if you make one mistake, all of a sudden, you’re, you’re down.
Eric Weinstein 59:22
That’s interesting. I mean, I have to say, I’ve seen you do this, and it doesn’t have the same visual appeal if you’re not part of this world. I’ve also seen the motorized version of this, which definitely looks like a magic carpet for sure. And it is it is bizarre, just to me, the physics almost don’t feel like they make sense to see the board that far out of the water.
Kai Lenny 59:45
It’s funny because it’s all physics. It’s all just all everything that I’m doing now. I mean, obviously, is all physics and I never was a kid. I never thought it’d be into physics, but the only way Physics, as I understand physics, it’s through kind of these devices, or kind of these approaches. It’s almost my, my version of math. You know, it’s like, well, if you take a board here, and you do this, and with the wind and you rotate that way, you know, it’s like,
Eric Weinstein 1:00:14
but let’s talk about this in a weird context. So there’s that now there are these engineered waves. Oh, yeah. And people are actually saying, look, if you want to irregular experience, we can design a wave in a wave pool, and make it as pretty irregular as you want. I don’t know that we’ve gotten to the point where you can dial your own irregularities into it, but maybe that’s coming.
Kai Lenny 1:00:37
Yeah, I think what makes surfing so fun is when you’re on the wave, it’s the unpredictability. You can kind of read what the waves doing, and you can make the most informed and best decisions on it. But you get on these mechanical waves like that the surf ranch or
Eric Weinstein 1:00:52
this is Kelly Slater’s Kelly’s
Kai Lenny 1:00:53
latest polling. It’s almost like too perfect. You get on it and you’re it’s like you’re all of a sudden Having to figure out your own runs, right? You’re like, okay, I can do two turns here. And I could get barreled. And I could do this. And you could sort of do that in the ocean. But I mean, the wave pool is insane. If you want to get better, because you get the wave of the day, every single time you stand up. And a lot of times you never get the wave of the day when you’re surfing in the ocean. I think there’s something about being in saltwater. And I think there’s something about kind of that natural element and being in line with nature and one of her most dynamic moments, right? That is, that is that makes you feel good, like really, really good. But that being said, as a professional athlete, the more time I could spend in a wave pool, the better because it just means that I’m able to focus on things that I couldn’t, I may only get one chance to try. So I surfing so hard. It’s the hardest one in the world because you go out there with the intention to learn a new trick. You may never get the opportunity one or you may get one opportunity and you may blow it because You’re trying to learn how to do
Eric Weinstein 1:02:01
high end and the only way to get high end is in a pool like that or to live. You know
Kai Lenny 1:02:07
you are travel, traveling a time and for most people they can’t travel a time for me I’m lucky that it’s in my job description to do it with big wave surfing nothing about this is big wave surfing. big wave surfing is so rare when the times when I most want to go out there and do something in the most motivated the most physically fit. It just doesn’t exist. Nowhere in the world there’s moments like right now there’s nowhere on earth that is breaking the way God wants it to break or big enough. So it’s like you know you’re looking at the forecast and you’re jumping on flights two days before the swell hits. You arrived the day before. jet lagged from Hawaii all the way to Europe. You said surfers to use a dummy surfers are some of the world’s best urologist. Yeah, no surfers without a doubt are probably some of the best meteorologists because there’s more at stake than just a huge storm destroying something. There’s what’s at stake is you’re enjoying And, and, and it’s personal, it’s really personal. So the people I talked to, that are surfers that know how to read the ocean read the information that comes out of NOAA or any of these other buoys that are scattered across the planet. satellites, they, they can tell you to to basically the minute when a certain wave is going to come in. And that’s what’s really cool is like, you without you knowing it, you’re a meteorologist because you’re like, Okay, this is this tide mixed with this swell direction mixed with these winds is gonna make it this way. And in the really good guys, girls, they can call it like, okay, at 7am the waves are gonna be pumping, it’s gonna turn on and then you show up 6am it’s not really that good 7am boom, it hits. So it’s, it’s really almost predicting the future.
Eric Weinstein 1:03:56
So another question I had is about physics is There’s this question about what is possible. And I remember description back in the early skateboarding days of like, Dogtown. Yeah. There was this question, but nobody knew what happened. What would happen if you went over the lip of a swimming pool? Like they, I think they couldn’t calculate the actual physical consequences. And so in the lip of a swimming pool, well, you know, you’re this drought in the early 70s. In California.
Kai Lenny 1:04:25
Right, right. Right. Right. Okay, gotcha. I was for some reason I was thinking something different. But with skating go above it, right. Yeah. And
Eric Weinstein 1:04:32
I think Tony Alva, if I recall correctly,
Unknown Speaker 1:04:34
was first air or something was
Eric Weinstein 1:04:36
the first guy who said like, I’m going to try it, and we’ll find out whether like, they didn’t know what would happen physically or something. And it turned out that it worked. And then it was like, oh, okay, that is possible. Now. Look at them.
Kai Lenny 1:04:47
And now look at them. Oh, my God. And I wonder like, Are there things where you’re pretty sure it’s possible but you’d like. You don’t know whether it’s physically possible. Usually, you get I feel like I get about three quarters of the way there. And any you can’t go any further and you have to just try it at a certain point. It’s like It’s like I think I could do that. And you’ve wrapped you you’ve kind of played it all out in your head like, I got this equipment this woman’s gonna allow me to do that. Okay, I need this type of way because it’s gonna allow me What are you thinking about? What’s up next that might be possible that you don’t know that’s possible. You know what, it’s so funny because a lot of the things just sort of hit you like an epiphany like, or like hits you. It’s like a baseball bat to the head all of a sudden, you’re just like, what? And I can’t tell you what’s next because
Eric Weinstein 1:05:36
because you’d have to kill me Well, no,
Kai Lenny 1:05:37
no, I don’t know. It’s what’s crazy. I’ll This is how it happens. literally be sitting out in the water. And it’s like all the stars all like the five brain cells. I have kind of go to think they all line up and all of a sudden, it’s like, oh my god, that was right in front of me the whole time. It’s like staring me in the face but you don’t see
Eric Weinstein 1:05:58
me. Yeah, give me an example. That One of those in the past that actually worked
Kai Lenny 1:06:01
well the Epiphany was the hydrofoil one because everyone was riding big waves and I was doing a lot of channel crossings on stand up paddle boards, or prone paddle boards or on a canoe. And that’s where your your board is a wet the wetted surface or
Eric Weinstein 1:06:15
you are the guy who thought to put the hydrofoil into channel crossing. Yeah, I didn’t know that.
Kai Lenny 1:06:21
Yeah, so that was kind of like, I guess my sort of contribution to the sport. Um, and it was it came from necessity to want to go faster. So I, I basically pushed my physical limits, and I could probably be faster now as I’m older and I’m better trained blah, blah, blah, equipments better. But on my stand up paddleboard, for example, it was like, gosh, I just want to go fast. All my other sports are I’m going fast all the time. And here I’m limited to maybe maximum 14 miles an hour downwind, peak speed, average, let’s say nine miles an hour, 10 miles an hour. And, and so it was like, gosh, like, all of a sudden I put like two and two together. I’m like hydrofoil. And then I’ve put down winder and they sort of cross and it’s like, Well yeah, obviously that should work. I just need a bigger wing there. We’re just using too small of wings. That’s why you couldn’t you need more lift, you get a bigger wing. And the first time I tried it in a wave, I was like, this is gonna work. Oh my god, this is gonna work. And then I went and did it. And I ended up paddling like three miles in the middle of the ocean and got up for 100 yards maybe because the equipment wasn’t quite there yet. Right? Right. But I got up and it was just enough to go oh my god and just hit me like in the hex I’d been foiling since I was nine years old. Like on a toe board with the jetski and how to do it and bigger waves. And and then with this, it was like, kind of been doing it since I nine and it took me until now I think I was like what 24 or something no 25 to 16 and it’s hard to click and I’m like, oh god, it was right there and running the whole time.
Eric Weinstein 1:08:00
Have you ever heard about this guy Freeman Dyson, whose DNA Institute for Advanced Study, and he was a great physicist, also mathematician did not have a PhD in either subject. He wrote an article, which I think might be called missed opportunities. And he talks about Freeman Dyson, the physicist needed a result of Freeman Dyson, the mathematician and Freeman Dyson, the human being who is both of these people was not having that conversation. So the only person who had the result was Freeman Dyson, the mathematician, but the physicist who was himself could not figure out how to ask the question to make the connection. Yeah. And so there is this feeling that like, the feeling of discovery is often a feeling of stupidity, like, Oh my god, I could have done that at any time. And I just didn’t
Kai Lenny 1:08:49
Well, you just don’t see it. It doesn’t it’s invisible visit and all of a sudden, it’s just there. That’s the portal clear as day and you’re just like,
Eric Weinstein 1:08:56
it’s like how do you find your way out of your How do you find These epiphanies,
Unknown Speaker 1:09:01
Eric Weinstein 1:09:02
and like, then you go back and you say to yourself, Well, what was it on that particular day that caused me to look at a wall and really see that there was probably a door and you know, or something like that.
Kai Lenny 1:09:13
And it’s about being kind of open minded to anything. And that’s, I think permeable, well, going back to being uncomfortable all the time. If you’re willing to be uncomfortable all the time, you’re willing to see things from very different perspectives. And oftentimes, you’re going to surprise yourself. I always find myself talking a lot. And then I’m like, put I everything I’m saying, I already know. I got it. Okay, got a list on your son to me. You’re listening to yourself talking if you don’t do that. I mean, how shocking. This is something I don’t know how to convey to people. How shocking is our own voice like that. If you go into a room where there is nobody else, and you actually start talking, and you realize that you’re only talking for yourself, it is a terrifying feeling, realizing that the Lord listener and the speaker and not the same person. I know No, it’s it’s split personalities for sure. Or
Eric Weinstein 1:10:06
I loved your Inception comment along those lines, it’s layers and layers.
Kai Lenny 1:10:10
There’s just layers and layers. And I think some people don’t ever go beyond layer one because they don’t want to,
Eric Weinstein 1:10:18
or they don’t know that, or they don’t know. But here’s the question. Once you’ve seen that there are layers and layers. Do you start looking for that everywhere in your life? Like? Sure, okay. So give me some, are there any other transferable examples where the same kind of breakthrough takes place that you can talk about?
Kai Lenny 1:10:35
I mean, I think nothing. I Well, there’s a lot of things but there’s there’s little wins I call them you know, when you have like minor epiphanies or little things that sort of just become apparent and, and, and obvious and, and I think it happens with everyone whether we know it or not where you’re doing something and you’ve been trying it for a really long time, like a trick On a wave, you’re trying it for a really, really long time. And then all of a sudden you decide to change one little thing. And a really good thing for surfing is letting go. Yeah, and it’s not letting go in the fact that you relax completely, or it’s relaxing, but it’s different. It’s not like letting go it’s like letting go of your problems, you know what I mean? It’s like, letting go in the sense that you have any control and and you just kind of like feel it’s you let your physical being kind of you go into a flow state, the flow state, but you also let someone else take the driving wheel. You know what I mean? Like, in surfing, it’s such a connection. And that’s, this comes to these moments where I feel like I’m in a movie sometimes, and I’m in the passenger seat, and everything’s happening around me, but I don’t feel like I’m doing it feel like there’s someone else doing it for me and I’m in the movie. You know, I’m like seeing it through someone else’s eyes.
Eric Weinstein 1:11:54
So this is a weird case like before, we’re talking about surrendering to the wave. There’s also this question about surrendering to the parts of yourself that you don’t yourself control.
Kai Lenny 1:12:03
Exactly. Yeah, well, so it’s like, all of a sudden I’m in a wave, and it’s survival and my what I call it, you know, survival mode comes on. And I’m seeing everything, but my body is moving to make it all happen to work because it wants to make it out. And it’s like it’s falling control, and I’m just visualizing and seeing it. And then I get back to the shore. And I get back on the beach, and all of a sudden, it’s like, the switch flips back over. And all of a sudden, I’m just going like, how did I do that? Like, I don’t, I couldn’t tell you really, I can imagine I can try to recall. Like, I don’t really know what happened. Like, I’m like, like that scared. I’ll never be able to repeat that again,
Eric Weinstein 1:12:44
was because well, first of all, each. It’s really weird that you have things that are highly irregular, and things like a bowling alley, that those pins are always more or less the same. And the wave it’s always different.
Kai Lenny 1:13:01
Well, I so I struggled for a while, like when I saw like, I started big wave surfing and it was like, I want to be a big wave surfer. This was like, being a kid standing on the cliff going, figuring out the wave from that perspective, got it feeling like I knew it like the back of my head better than guys that were riding it. All of a sudden, I blinked, I’m down in the water, and I’m going, Oh my gosh, how this happens so fast. I thought I had so much more time and then blink again. And it’s all of a sudden, it’s like, I get myself into this mess. You know, like, how did I get myself into the point where I feel like I’m gonna die all the time. You do it regularly. Well, I used to when I first started it was like going, Oh my God. And then you have like, sponsors and then you have like boats and you have safety team and your people on payroll, it’s expensive to surf big waves is what I’m saying,
Eric Weinstein 1:13:48
well, am I right that you got yourself into trouble at some point when there was a helicopter that had been hired and you wanted to perform for the helicopter and you took on risks that you shouldn’t have?
Kai Lenny 1:13:57
Yeah, and that’s that’s that’s just that is a natural sort of, that’s just natural to big wave surfing in general, like you’re going to have to go through sir everyone goes through those types of situations if they’re willing to go to the level that they want or the highest level the degree in, which would be like a black belt or a tree. Like you have to go through that at one point. There’s just, it’s like someone telling you what to do, and they have all this wealth of knowledge. But until you go through the experience on your own, you don’t truly learn it for yourself. You don’t go like it doesn’t have the weight necessarily. You can be told all you want but you almost have to experience it on your own accord.
Eric Weinstein 1:14:36
Well, am I right, that this is so unpredictable that like, you can’t say, I’ve got this because anything can happen in a big wave.
Unknown Speaker 1:14:45
Absolutely. Um, and
Eric Weinstein 1:14:46
yeah, if I understand correctly, your foot at some point, had the surfboard come right at it and cleave it into
Kai Lenny 1:14:56
Oh, yeah, no, that was like a classic example of Like, kind of going into what you’re saying is, it was probably my third full season surfing big waves. The waves were giant. And we were we hired a helicopter we’re filming and it was like, I really want to get a shot for this movie that I’m working on. I really want to like, have a blow people’s minds. You know, there’s that ego part. Ego is just the worst in big waves. It’s the best in the worst, in a way, because you kind of need an ego to like, make yourself kind of Prop yourself up to match power with power. But
Eric Weinstein 1:15:34
my right that you this is something I talked about and pisses people off like you wouldn’t believe the necessity of being both incredibly humble and an egomaniac and having the two of those selves fight each other constantly.
Kai Lenny 1:15:48
Yeah, I think it’s it’s draining
Eric Weinstein 1:15:51
your ego or you have to undergo ego death. I’m thinking, No, you don’t. You have to actually make sure that
Kai Lenny 1:15:57
well, that’s the thing. It’s like when people talk about he’s fearless. No you you the everything we have is been an evolution in nature and there’s a necessity towards it. Ego is okay there’s certain situations it’s awesome and it’s more pleasurable for everyone around you not to have an ego but there’s other situations like in survival situations where you want to think of yourself as the best there ever was. Because a kind of as a male and this is the only way I know it because I’m a male is it’s it’s that alpha inside you and it’s like going against it’s it’s the the the tribal instinct of protecting your your tribe protecting what is yours your family, right, but in this case, it’s it’s the experiences in big waves where it’s like, you got a David and Goliath you got to match yourself with the impossible the undefeatable I also
Eric Weinstein 1:16:52
met your mom, and your mom is a total badass like, Yeah, you got a you got a situation if you’re gonna make mom proud you have to go above
Kai Lenny 1:17:01
No, exactly. And it’s um you know I’ve I’ve definitely one thing that I remember when I was really little kid being told all the time was like, don’t no one likes a big head no one likes this. And it be it was like kind of been into my head so much from like my mentors and certain people around me that it made me really shine reserved and felt like it felt I always felt like I could handle anything, but I don’t think anyone else could like Like, if I said something that was maybe the truth or if I said somebody that was like something that was hard or very critical, it would, it would be damaging to someone and I never wanted to hurt anyone. That’s like the last thing I’d ever want to do. And so it was actually it’s been a long process trying to overcome kind of that.
That habit of like
Eric Weinstein 1:17:54
giving your power away,
Kai Lenny 1:17:55
giving power away, when in CERN says it’s okay to be like it The most powerful the best, right? The the best athletes that I’ve ever met. Yeah, the the true alphas there, they know how to switch it on and off like they they’re they’re able to be so humble and kind and they don’t feel like they need to exert some, but when the time comes for whatever it is that they do, they can turn it on all of a sudden, they’re just these beasts, these monsters that are a joke,
Eric Weinstein 1:18:24
except what it is that you are. I mean, I let’s be honest, when I, when I called you out, there isn’t another surfer on the planet that I was dying to meet. Because this is not I mean, I’m aware of who Laird Hamilton is. I’m aware of Kelly Slater that tons of people like this guy, Phillip Toledo. I’m, I’m watching all these guys. You were the only one from outside that I absolutely had to meet because of the level of innovation and then when I met you, it was so disarming, that you clearly know that you’re doing something very different. You can’t actually deny it you can’t fully embrace it either. And so I think that one of the puzzles here is that we have to sort of pass power back and forth, which is that you give your power away to some extent. And then the community kind of with love just says, you know, no, you really need to take this on because people are looking towards you. And it’s a very weird thing to sort of have to balance these things. I think we do a terrible disservice when we tell people to get rid of their egos, because that’ll never work. You have to make sure that the thing is like a Mexican standoff. And so
Kai Lenny 1:19:33
you have to you have to anything you have to face everything. Like if it’s, I was telling my friend, I had like a certain situation that I was kind of going through, like, maybe end of last year. And it’s like, I told myself for this situation when I was a young kid, like because I was pretty aware about like, my pute the people around me and the mistakes they had made and how I was like, always, I I always when I was really young, and when my ego is definitely very strong. Inside, I was like, I want to do everything perfect and I want to do it the best anyone’s ever done it. I want to be the best ever because as a kid, there’s you don’t have to confront it yet, you know, but you can imagine you can believe you can do all these things, because but you don’t actually have to go through it yet, because you’re still a little kid. Anyway, so I told myself this one particular thing, like, I’m going to avoid this, and I’m going to I’m going to make sure I never end up in this situation. And inevitably, the one thing that you try to avoid is the one thing that will end eventually come for you. You know, you’ll eventually meet it. And I learned that the end of the end of Kung Fu Panda. Great. Yeah, I love that movie. Yeah,
Eric Weinstein 1:20:41
so remember, one often meets one’s destiny on the road one takes to avoid it or some way Yeah, away. Exactly.
Kai Lenny 1:20:47
Yeah, no, that movie was so smart. For it was a kid’s movie or whatever. But there was not a kid’s
Eric Weinstein 1:20:54
movie. Dude, that was a really profound movie.
Kai Lenny 1:20:57
Well, yeah, right. Exactly. It’s It’s true though. No, it’s I know that quote exactly what you’re saying. And it’s like, it truly
Eric Weinstein 1:21:06
isn’t that movie. Sorry, I didn’t mean to cut you off. But anyway is weirdly putting Shifu on the road to his destiny as he tries to avoid his destiny so like there’s this extra layer of his way
Kai Lenny 1:21:21
actually great filmmaking
Eric Weinstein 1:21:23
Kai Lenny 1:21:24
great storytelling, but it’s at least as tell it’s whether you don’t know it when the time you watch it or you figure it out later. Yeah, it’s it’s, it’s helping you along in your life. You know, there’s like, there’s lessons and that’s what stories are all about is meant to pass on lessons, right?
Eric Weinstein 1:21:41
What happens when you bite off more than you can chew in a situation where you You think you can handle something? And then you look up at this thing, and you’re saying, I don’t really know that I can handle this, but I got no choice. Now I’m over. I’m past the Rubicon. Well, this happened to you recently or more from before,
Kai Lenny 1:21:59
more from before. I mean, it’s still I mean, no matter how comfortable I’ve gotten in big waves, yeah, um, you there’s, it’s impossible to totally be comfortable because it’s just terrifying. You know, it’s just it’s huge monsters. But the thing is, is I’ve many times, you know, you pop up, you’re like, this is a perfect example, actually. You’re standing out there paddling, you paddle over a giant wave. And then there’s mist in the air. Like, there’s just, it’s so much spray that’s coming off. It’s hundreds fees, it’s torrential downpour. It’s sunny, but it’s downpour. And in the distance you see this black face this black kind of waterfall coming in, and your heart just instantly drops in you’re sprinting for your life. And you’re and all sudden you’re you’re trying to escape the feeling or the situation by looking at little things and focusing on that, like, look at the water just rolling off. They’re like look at the sticker on my board, just like you’re trying to find any escape, but to realize that there’s no escape. There’s no you see, Interstellar.
Eric Weinstein 1:22:58
Yeah, I love that movie. I love that. You remember where they ended up on the water planet and the wave starts to form.
Kai Lenny 1:23:03
It looks just like that. And if I ever get to meet Christopher Nolan, I’m going to tell him that that was the that was the biggest surprise I’ve ever seen in a movie because as a big wave surfer I was like, so rideable and look, you can do 100% man who’s any big wave surfer? I don’t know if any, but I mean, think about Okay, so in the movie, the waves are created by gravitational forces, right and, and that’s a lot like the moon helps pull our tides right. But in the film, here I’m seeing 1000 foot wave that’s never braking and it’s continuous for for around the entire world. And I’m like, that seems like the sick you could ride 1000 foot wave, biggest playground ever. Ball. If you fall. You just kind of over the back and then there’s another one. And I mean the person the character dies because I can imagine you’re going over 1000 foot wave. You get really high in the wave and it flicks into the air and If you fall 1000 feet and you die, right or 200 feet, whatever it is, because I’m just trying to I was always trying to imagine how the person died in that film, because I had to leave them behind or whatever. And I’m like, well, the solution would have been right as you get to the top, you just duck under the water and you stay, the water kind of conceals you, and you come back down the backside of it. And then you can stick your head back up and get air or in that case, you’re all wearing spacesuits. Perfect. You don’t even have to like hold your breath underwater. That’s one one problem taken care of. And, and they’re pressurized, so you can just go through it. But anyway, I was just like, that is like, that would be that’s one. And it made me actually start thinking, Oh my gosh, I wonder if in my lifetime if space travel is really going to be a thing and maybe someone goes to Titan or Europa like because there’s supposedly water or some of you obsessed with it. I mean, I’m obsessed with the idea of surfing waves in the world.
Unknown Speaker 1:24:53
Kai Lenny 1:24:54
sure. Like if you have the right suit on I mean, in any element, you could probably go in unless it’s like lava. Maybe I don’t know I’m not that smart. But what I do know is that just think of all the waves in the universe that is just firing right now and no one out. And if we maybe we have the best waves in the universe, but there has to be better ways. I often look back in time at just how
Eric Weinstein 1:25:16
do you think they’re great, undiscovered waves hundred percent? We’re Why on earth
Kai Lenny 1:25:20
on earth? Do we think we’ve mapped all the great waves? No. Well, okay, a great example is this wave, NASA. This is a great lead into NASA Ray naza. Ray discovered nine years ago, nine years ago by Scott McNamara by Garrett Durbin sorry, your man, but Okay, this is just it’s so crazy. Portugal, part of European Union, like the middle of the heart of Portugal, like there’s this way naza Ray, biggest wave, possibly in the world, tallest, most consistent, big wave, that’s for sure. All right, and you know, it’s 2011 or whatever. 2012 2011 It’s discovered
Eric Weinstein 1:26:01
Kai Lenny 1:26:02
I don’t know it was just I couldn’t say incite it. It’s it’s the things. It’s, it’s okay, we go back to that point where it’s like, the things that are the most obvious aren’t always recognized right away. You know what?
Eric Weinstein 1:26:16
I never got the history of that it’s always photograph. I mean, the most dramatic shot of it is somebody gets a picture of the observation deck, looking at the wave, so yeah, man, that observation deck looks like it wasn’t built recently.
Kai Lenny 1:26:33
Um, no, it’s a it’s a lighthouse. But it’s it’s so old. It looks like a castle. Right. And so naza Ray was first surfed whatever, eight or nine years ago, less than a decade in a modern era,
Eric Weinstein 1:26:49
here in Hawaii.
Kai Lenny 1:26:50
Garrett is from Hawaii. Yeah, he’s from a wahoo. And, and he’s always been on the search for the best big ways and it took someone who is always seeking it out that long to find something Because with big waves if they’re not breaking, you don’t know they exist. You know, there’s they’re dormant, there’s there, you could we could literally go down to a coastline we haven’t been to somewhere in Africa that’s exposed to a great part of the Atlantic Ocean and, and look at a point and be like, Whoa, can you that could be a wave one day, but you don’t realize that it’s a sleeping giant and when it wakes up it’s the biggest wave on the planet like that may exist. That totally could exist
Eric Weinstein 1:27:27
you were mapping the seabed. Portugal’s just stick out like a sore thumb. No.
Kai Lenny 1:27:33
Well, okay, the The bathymetry is a freak of nature.
Eric Weinstein 1:27:37
We see that word again because I don’t know
Kai Lenny 1:27:38
symmetry. Okay, which is kind of the bottom contour. You know, it’s what, what, what? I’m gonna
Eric Weinstein 1:27:44
start dropping that into lots of sentences
Kai Lenny 1:27:46
that makes you sound smarter than Well, it makes me sound smarter than I am. Okay, but so what what’s unique about Nazareth is it’s the largest trench in all of Europe. And I believe it’s an ancient it was once a glacier that carved out a huge Valley. And when all the ice caps melted, it filled in the ocean and it covered that trench. The Trench allows the swell, this raw energy from the Atlantic to come in, it gets sucked into that deep water, it focuses it, and it comes in. And then this is where the wave comes in. They call it pride the North Bay, which is, you know, North Beach North Point. And that’s where the wave breaks in Deseret. And so what happens is all the swell comes in, and then it all of a sudden gets accelerated onto shallow water. So there’s a point with a ledge and it’s all sand. It’s a giant beach, and it comes in and then it focuses and what makes nazzer so big is two peaks, two waves, and this is the concept of a rogue wave. You know, you can have a really big ocean of big waves, and then it’s one, two big waves come together.
Eric Weinstein 1:28:53
It’s the superposition.
Kai Lenny 1:28:55
It’s the superposition. Yeah, one. The swell comes in this way. And it makes matches with another one. And the energy combines and it doubles in height. So it Jacks up twice as high and it’s just the perfect bottom for that perfect situation. And it it produces the tallest waves in the world consistently. And yeah, that’s NASA. NASA is a chip, you go there and it feels biblical. I mean, the word the word NASA already sounds like it’s from, you know, the Old Testament. And then add to this there’s a guy there named Jesus. That is, stands up on the lighthouse and calls out sets. If your toe surfing, it’s like, Okay, second set, get out there, you know, or like, get the second one. And his name is Jesus from Nazareth, Jesus from Nazareth. That’s great. And it’s just it’s hilarious. It’s kind of a hilarious situation like so when you’re out there. And you’re seeing this massive Cliff 200 foot cliff and you’re seeing waves that are like half the size of it and on really big days, the same size as the cliff because it It’s that big. We haven’t seen it in the time that we’ve served out there, though. You see this sort of castle lighthouse on the point spray in the air and you’re like, where am i right now I feel like I got thrown back in time. And, and this just doesn’t feel real. And you’re looking at these towering mountains of water that look like Interstellar looks the same. It’s just walls popping up everywhere and, and it’s all like there’s one breaking wave. There’s six breaking waves at once. And there’s no channel which is the channel is the safe zone. It’s where the deep water is. And we’re just break. It’s kind of breaking everywhere. It’s a beach break. So world’s biggest beach break. It’s maybe one of the world’s most terrifying day ways to challenge in that there is no safe zone when you’re committed. you’re committed and
Eric Weinstein 1:30:45
I’ve seen some disastrous rescue attempts on this thing.
Kai Lenny 1:30:48
Oh, it’s great. And every time I go there, we lose a jetski at least once Is that right? Luckily they’re sad so it pushes back up. But imagine like everything around you was built bigger. And all sudden you felt like your scale just went really down. That’s what it feels like there. Because the waves are so big all sudden you feel like really small, the beach, the beach is really steep and massive and large and you feel smaller on the beach, the way the waves the move up and down, it’ll travel 50 to 60 yards up the sand before it returns back to the ocean. And you feel like this is what it feels like to be the size of a Chihuahua.
Eric Weinstein 1:31:24
You get off on your own insignificance, like your significance coming from your insignificance. There’s no place on Earth, like like that place that wave to make me realize how small human being is definitely
Kai Lenny 1:31:37
gotten used to feeling like insignificant and my place in this whole crazy world is not as important necessarily as I might want think, you know, like, because you look at these waves and they’re just power this power and and you’re trying to find kind of like symmetry with it. You’re trying to be one with it for just a brief moment. You just realize, like, has this waste has been here forever, for a long time. And, you know, I guess if I can be just in line with something that’s bigger than myself, that’s what I that was made. That’s what makes me feel really good. The best feeling I get from riding big waves is the drive home. Because you’ve just went through this whole crazy experience. Your reliefs relieved you just went through that and and you you tapped into something bigger than yourself physically bigger than yourself to
Eric Weinstein 1:32:31
Well, I’m used to seeing you on some of these monster waves alone and then recently I saw you get a ride it looked like it. jaws with a friend of yours. Yeah, Nathan Florence and I thought what is it like to actually ride a wave like that with somebody that you know and care about? Does it feel totally different?
Kai Lenny 1:32:53
Ah, you know what it just there’s camaraderie. Yeah involved. You still feel kind of alone. Because
Eric Weinstein 1:33:01
you on the board,
Kai Lenny 1:33:02
it’s you on the board and it’s your decisions that make the outcome and sometimes it’s not even your decision that makes the outcome. It’s the the waves that make the outcome. You know, like, you could choose a wave and all of a sudden it, it does something completely unforeseen and different. Riding that wave with Nathan, we ended up getting a really big barrel out of jaws together. And to, for both of us to be in the barrel at the same time was amazing. It’s your shit. It’s finally you’re sharing the experience with somebody. And I think that’s why there’s a real brotherhood sisterhood. Yeah, out in big wave surfing. Because you’re, you’re sharing an experience. It’s so extreme that you know, it’s like you can tell everyone all about it, but you know, you still feel like they don’t understand they How do you translate the feeling you can translate the emotions the ideas like the through like verb like like words, but that that physical feeling like I wish I could just plug my head head into your head. Yeah, and you could just feel it for a second. Oh no, I’m pretty sure. Dude, I’ve
Eric Weinstein 1:34:07
gotten off I care. But I wish I could do the same thing for you with exactly it’s mathematics and part. That’s one
Kai Lenny 1:34:12
of the things we’re terrible with math.
Eric Weinstein 1:34:14
I want to know know that you’re, you know, you don’t know that. Well, you brought up an interesting question about this. Brothers and sisters. Then we just had I follow this other woman whose name I don’t want to Mangle who’s just the first woman a year or two ago to be invited into this Edie Invitational say
Kai Lenny 1:34:29
it and I’ll help you keep here. Hey, Allah, Kayla.
Eric Weinstein 1:34:33
Yeah, yeah, she’s she’s like, she’s, she’s a charm. She’s amazing. He’s amazing. And
Kai Lenny 1:34:38
I was just surfing with her at jaws like two days ago. Wow. Yeah. Okay, so like, she’s a hammer.
Eric Weinstein 1:34:44
So So, but clearly she’s going to pioneer something where other women are gonna say, Okay, yeah, I totally see what she’s done. I’m there too. And and it’s changing the nature of the sport. Do you? Do you think that that’s going to be a big effect coming up?
Kai Lenny 1:34:58
Yeah, there’s a massive shift in Women’s big wave surfing and there was there wasn’t a whole lot of progression is until recently. And now there’s major strides The girls are. It’s it’s amazing how people like kiala has inspire the next generation enough to also step into that realm because for the longest time, there were women that were riding big waves but not enough. It wasn’t inspiring. Maybe I don’t want to take anything away from them. But it wasn’t inspiring the next the youth of the next generation and along with Kayla and Paige Holmes, Bianca volante, they these are like three of the top big wave female surfers, yeah, they’ve and Maya gambiarra, who’s always out at Nazareth as well. They’ve inspired the next generation of big wave girls, Thompson step into the realm and I’ve always felt that it’s it’s big ways. sports in general die when there’s not the next generation. To take to the next level, like they cease to become relevant or even of interest, and this is my own personal perspective. Sure. Um, because I feel like sports, like action sports, in particular, surfing always needs to be constantly being pushed. And so I do, I do see these young girls inspiring actually, the older girls to continue pushing the envelope, and when their time is up, or they decided no longer to do it, right, that they’ve had their fill that the next generation of girls take it to another level. And I’ve always felt the same way with me, you know, like I saw where Laird and all these legends took it. And I wanted to take it from where they took it to somewhere else, and I don’t know where I’m going to take it. But I hope in the future,
Eric Weinstein 1:36:51
it’s a relay race. You gotta hand it off to somebody else.
Kai Lenny 1:36:53
I hope in the future that I have the privilege of mentoring and helping that next generation spool take it to a place that that, that I couldn’t anymore because I got it to one position I just ran out of time. Well,
Eric Weinstein 1:37:10
I think that there’s, there’s an interesting thing about breaking new ground versus what keeps it something relevant to the world. So for example, in jazz, there was a period where the innovators were doing innovations that were appreciated by the listenership. And at some point, things get so technical, that unless you’re actually a performer, he was juggling is a good example. The most technical jugglers in the world will point to one of one of their kind and say, Oh, my God, did you see what that guy did? And to me, you can’t see I can’t see it, because it’s already so many balls, somebody rings, chairs, like the whole thing is so mind blowing, I can’t slow it down enough to understand what the innovation was. Whereas at an earlier point, and this is this is one of the reasons why I think you’re kind of a very romantic figure in the story, it’s because I can see those innovations. It’s not like so technical, very often with some of the skateboarding stuff, I have to slow it down a million times to even understand what the trick was.
Kai Lenny 1:38:12
Yeah, and I think that is that is really, really true. And and it touches on the point that we’re still only scratching the surface of big wave riding, you know, like, it’s such an act on its own, but then adding sort of next level maneuvers and positions that one could ride at least what’s nice about big waves is and I always say this, you have all of all the time you need on a big wave. small waves happen really quick. Yeah, things are like bam, bam, bam, you have to be on it really quick. And it’s like it’s really fast and big waves I’m always there’s a saying by a big wave legend from Hawaii on Hawaii. His name was Titus Kinney, maka and it was a layered and he’s like, he has the quote goes like this. He has the ability to slow himself down. When everyone else wants to run like hell, and it’s not slowing down in terms of the speed of your board is slowing down your mind is like, it’s like. And I work on this every single day I ride big waves. It’s like, I have way more time than I think on this wave. Because when I watched the footage, I realized, well, I could have been this position. And I am, I could have waited longer. Or I could have done this, like, when I go to do a 360. Don’t rush to 360
Eric Weinstein 1:39:26
let it move the way that you have to match the wave your, your mind has to match the way
Kai Lenny 1:39:32
well, you just got to know I guess the time you have. And a lot of people think a lot of people feel like they don’t have the time. So their mind starts racing and then all of a sudden, the wave itself feels like it’s going really fast and everything is moving. And it’s how can you compute, you know, how can you keep everything like in line. And then also when you try to slow yourself down a little bit, just like even it’s like just, I would say it’s like when I sometimes write a really big wave, almost just relax for a second and go Okay, let’s continue. That’s so cool. And then, and then all of a sudden I see things and I’m like, Oh, I’m gonna hit that. Okay, here we come. All right, perfect. All right, here comes a barrel position, right? I’m in the tube and you calm yourself down and you and, and I, it’s like manipulating time for a second. You’re just like, I’m gonna let this wave go over and you’re not talking to yourself through it. You’re just kind of like breathing through it. And my biggest wave I ever wrote in my life still out at jaws was my whole focus on the rocks I knew was a big one was just breathing
Eric Weinstein 1:40:33
was that the one that was photographs that I saw your place? Yeah.
Kai Lenny 1:40:36
So that one I was just as I was dropping in, I was just going.
Unknown Speaker 1:40:41
Kai Lenny 1:40:46
And I was just and what I was trying to do is I was just trying to slow everything down, slow it down, slow it down. The wave was like, behind me, and I just remember going slow down.
Eric Weinstein 1:40:54
So the breathing is the only way that you can talk to your own autonomic nervous system effectively. That’s the one thing that’s under conscious control that you can try to do to talk to the part of you that isn’t under conscious.
Kai Lenny 1:41:06
Yeah. And I just tried it. Like, I just did that little breathing now I feel way more calm. But when I’m on the wave I like it’s like, okay, breathe in for two, for two reason for three for three.
Eric Weinstein 1:41:24
Now, I’m not going to push you to talk about something. No, no, I can’t. No, it’s a question of being respectful. When I was at your place, I saw some crazy stuff you were working on, but I don’t know whether that’s under wraps. And I don’t want to you to talk about it if it’s not ready to be talked about.
Kai Lenny 1:41:40
Um, well, it’s it can be talked about, but it’s it’s not quite ready yet.
Eric Weinstein 1:41:45
Should we hold off on it? Or
Kai Lenny 1:41:48
let’s hold off and then I’ll come back and tell you all I
Eric Weinstein 1:41:51
totally jazz. Yeah. Let me ask you another question. When you’re out in these waves surfers are one life form, but you’re not the only ones out there. Yeah. Can you talk about the man in the gray suit and how he affects or she affects your your thinking as you realize that you’re part of an ecosystem?
Kai Lenny 1:42:12
think I’ve been a part of the ecosystem so much I kind of know my place. And it’s not when you see it’s, it’s, it’s a treat that you when you see a shark, or even any animal for that standard, like the last time I surfed jaws is one of the most beautiful days. And it’s, it’s it’s funny because when you surf out of place, so beautiful, it’s kind of like, you forget how gnarly it is. Yeah, it’s like it’s masked in the fact that it’s sunny. There’s rainbows. There’s seals in the light like like monk seals, Hawaiian monk seals in the lineup. There’s whales going through the lineup, like giant humpback whales. You see a shark come in and it’s just cruising and you just realize, you know you’re in their domain, because that’s where they live. That would be a tiger shark where target Tiger Shark could be any type of Shark, we kind of have them all in Hawaii, which was a tiger shark. Sorry, I would say I would give Tiger Shark sort of the crown is kind of the landlord’s of the that area. We do get great whites. But they typically, they typically come to Hawaii and chill like they’re there. They’re in there. They’re taking a rest between their crossing of the Pacific from Australia to the US, or even if they come out here, it’s like vacation. Honestly, great whites come to Hawaii for vacation. We still don’t know a whole lot about them. But what we do know is when they’re out here, they’re there. They’re always full. They definitely look for and they’re kind of like in this migration sort of pattern, where they’re just they’re just cruising while Tiger Sharks are kind of the garbage men of the the, the trash Person of the the sea, because they just eat everything. You’ll see they’ll they’ll bike tires that are floating out at sea, they’ll, they’ll chew anything they can but they you know what’s awesome about them, they clean up kind of the death out there. Yeah, like dying fish the week gets cold. It’s just nature and that’s how it is. So when you confront, or you’re given the opportunity to be around one in the water showing, showing confidence and fear, they smell it, they know it if you showing like, signs of weakness. That’s an opportunity.
Eric Weinstein 1:44:20
All right. So you feel that by projecting confidence. They have enough acuity to pick up
Kai Lenny 1:44:25
they’re way smarter than you think. Yeah. And we all think they are. I’ve looked into when you look into this one of their big black eyes. Yeah. When you look in there, there’s a soul living in there. It’s not just the hollows I
Eric Weinstein 1:44:38
believe, I believe people who have like rescued sharks fine. The shark becomes friendly with them. Like it’s much our picture of how much is going on with these animals is changed quite
Kai Lenny 1:44:50
like I mean, Albert Einstein’s quote, and I’m probably gonna butcher it, but it was like, Don’t judge a fish because he can’t climb a tree. Yeah, you know, like just he’s a fish and some But if you don’t understand, like, we don’t we can’t speak their language, we don’t understand them on the same level I understand you. So we think of things that we don’t understand as being stupid or lesser than and, and, I mean, they have fins. So they can’t make you know, technological advancements necessarily, but who knows, maybe they have
Eric Weinstein 1:45:21
visible fins could be a real big problem. It could
Kai Lenny 1:45:23
be a pretty big problem, but I do I have a huge amount of respect for him. I’ve had so much and I’ve had so many encounters my entire life, and I’ve never once and knock on wood because you never know. Ever felt like I was in mortal danger. But I always felt like they were just these they were the landlords, they’re coming by to check you out. And if you showed like, confidence and respect, all right, then they kind of would be like, they’d kind of it’s like that, that give you a little nod professional
Eric Weinstein 1:45:54
courtesy. It’s like, car will then walk away. So there’s this island that I’ve been dreaming About off of Africa called reunion that used to be a pretty decent surf spot. What happened to our relationship?
Kai Lenny 1:46:07
Well, I’m now different sharks in different places. You know, it’s like traveling in different cultures right? Same thing with the animals of the sea. Hawaii it’s one way it’s I would say really respect based but like Reunion Island, and this is from a lot of my friends who are born and raised there and surf there is the biggest the what they think is the biggest problem was when it became a nature reserve. The moment reunion became a nature reserve, the sharks that would once the bull sharks that would migrate from Madagascar to reunion, all of a sudden decides to stay because here’s an abundant amount of fish. Well, let’s just stay. And so people forget that we are in
Eric Weinstein 1:46:52
Kai Lenny 1:46:53
Well, the agreement all of a sudden, it’s just like giving the keys to the apartment, but you’re only a visitor And, and people forget, I think people think we’re not a part of the natural cycle of we think of ourselves too highly that we’re not like a part of we become a part of the ecosystem by getting a certain amount of fish. And of course, I believe we should never over fish or do that. But this is from this is like a real life experiment from people that I know that grew up there that’s like, it used to be one of the premier surf destination, especially for French surfers. They go there all the time, because the French you know, territory, whatever it is, all of a sudden, as soon as we came in natural nature reserve the bull sharks came, the bull sharks became territorial, very territorial, all of a sudden realized it’s really easy to fight an attack and feed on humans because we’re pretty slow in the water compared to most of their prey. And they became the dominant force in the water. And and then there’s this big argument now it’s like, well, don’t kill the sharks. And, of course, don’t feel sharks We got to also like, it’s also asserting our dominance in our where we rank. We’re the top of the food chain too. And, and it’s also and sharks learn from one another.
Eric Weinstein 1:48:11
Well, I’m terrified that we have this weird agreement with the orcas that we don’t understand that orc is basically essentially never attacked humans in the wild. There’s so it’s
Kai Lenny 1:48:22
there. So I think orcas are so smart. They realize that maybe the ramifications of if I
Eric Weinstein 1:48:27
swear to God, I think it’s one of the greatest puzzles ever. And I do have the sense that they’re like, we should not mess with these people. It’s like, this is the one species. We can take anybody in the water, even the Great Whites leave these guys alone. And of course, you have local culture with Orca pods where they have entirely different styles of hunting and they pass information in ways that we have no idea
Kai Lenny 1:48:51
about. And so
I think the fear too, is that these bull sharks can eventually pass this information to other sharks and there are offspring, it becomes part of their DNA that it’s like, oh, humans are on the menu. And so I think
Eric Weinstein 1:49:06
we’re if not their DNA, their cultural memes or whatever, is they some means of transmission?
Kai Lenny 1:49:10
Yeah. Yeah. And, and it’s, I think it’s, it’s controversial, but I mean, we, at a certain point have to assert our own dominance in certain ways if we want to
Unknown Speaker 1:49:22
take back reunion dammit,
Kai Lenny 1:49:24
exactly. Or or not leave it. Okay. But but there’s no, there’s no middle ground here. You know what I mean? It’s like kids are getting eaten there all the time. They just want to go surfing. And I
Eric Weinstein 1:49:37
think that we get into this thing where we get into a reverential state about nature without realizing that we’re part of it. And we’ve also break broken that you bought it. It’s a much more complicated relationship that we need. And I think it’s important
Kai Lenny 1:49:49
for everywhere. It’s not the same everywhere, you know, it’s not the same. Like what’s happens here in California is not the same as in reunion. You know, I think We’re not Gods as well. So it’s like trying to like, understand things. It’s really difficult. But it’s, I want to say leave it up to the people. Yeah. And leave it up to or leave it up to the people in those places. And there’s I don’t think there should be any kind of backseat sort of driving from somewhere else. Because it’s a different part of the world. It’s a different ocean. It’s a different culture. It’s a different everything and let the tribes deal with those tribe things like we’re not like everyone always argues like, we don’t want to police world. Well, this is exactly that situation. Yeah, we all have our own opinions on how it should be dealt with. Right? No one has a better opinion than the people who live there and understand certain things you know, like, aren’t just that’s that’s my perspective on it. I think, however they see fit to take care of the situation is up to them. And for me, I live thousands and thousands of miles away. It’s not my job. decision.
Eric Weinstein 1:51:00
So I have three destination questions to finish this off with. I am obsessed with three islands in the middle of the Atlantic and I have no idea whether they have an importance in surf culture. Tell me about Alright, so we have this island ascension, St. Alena and Tristan akuna. Do you know about this? Where are they? Oh, dude, you can’t tell you don’t know these islands. Where are they’re right in the middle between Africa and South America.
Kai Lenny 1:51:28
So Napoleon Gosh, I know. Wait, the really South aren’t there? Yeah. Okay. Yeah, I was looking at
Eric Weinstein 1:51:33
one of them’s all Namibia.
Kai Lenny 1:51:35
Yeah, no, no, it’s, um, those islands I believe that they’re like, there’s like it’s a nature reserve as well. So
Eric Weinstein 1:51:42
you have Edinburgh of the seven seas, which is like a settlement with 300 or so people on trust and akuna which was evacuated as a volcano. It’s like there’s a book called Rockhopper copper, but the only policemen on the island it’s totally obscure that claim is the most remote island in the world. st Halina is above that. And it’s cool man, this is a gorgeous I only just got flights. And it was so isolated. You could only visit it by ship for a long
Kai Lenny 1:52:14
time, my friend of mine sent me a picture and in my quest to try to find the biggest waves in the world and find waves that I haven’t been able to surf yet. We were looking at a place like that, dude,
Eric Weinstein 1:52:25
I like oh my gosh, it’s in such a perfect place. Well, this is the thing I track this island. I’m obsessed with this island. And you get to know like the individuals on the island, the shops because it’s a tiny place, but
Kai Lenny 1:52:38
you got to write down.
Eric Weinstein 1:52:40
St. Alena is actually kind of a an outpost of civilizations big enough that can have like tiny little towns and culture and roads and stuff. And then the other one is ascension, which is above that. I guess it’s closer to like the chores and things. And I think that all three of these are British Overseas Territory. And we dude, we gotta go. You know, when you said this thing to me, it was very funny. Like you said, thanks for the shout out. He’s we have to go surf and I was like, I don’t serve like, Don’t worry, I’ll teach you I’m thinking, maybe, but maybe it’s too much. We should go to St Elena, check it out and get Redbull to do one of their rampages. There’s a film with the with with pioneering the stuff but
Kai Lenny 1:53:22
yeah, I mean, there’s as much as we think we’ve kind of discovered everything out there this, I have this gut feeling. There’s some massive waves out there that are so good. No one’s even tapped into and it’s just waiting to be written, discovered. Well, so
Eric Weinstein 1:53:38
we have to get get through the portal to get to these three islands will have put the hive mind on it. Yeah. And come back and visit when you can talk about the thing that we were checking out, but I don’t want you to do it prematurely. I want you to wait until it’s right.
Kai Lenny 1:53:52
Yeah, no, for sure. Let’s, I think Come Come here soon. It’ll be there’s a lot There’s a lot to talk about and it’s exciting every day’s really exciting.
Eric Weinstein 1:54:04
Guys. You’ve been through the portal with Kai. Lenny has been a real dream for me to meet. Please go to your web browsers to YouTube and just put his name in. Am I right? Kai means wave.
Kai Lenny 1:54:18
Chi means ocean and Hawaiian
Eric Weinstein 1:54:20
ocean when you’ll be treated to some of the most amazing footage you’ve ever seen. and with any luck, we’ll keep at it and stay safe. I hope so. Remember to check us out on YouTube by subscribing and clicking the bell to make sure that you’re notified when we drop new videos. And please subscribe to us wherever you listen to podcasts. Kai thanks very much and peace out. We’ll see everybody real soon. Shaka Zulu
The Portal podcast transcription series
- Peter Thiel
- What is The Portal?
- Werner Herzog
- Timur Kuran
- Rabbi David Wolpe
- Jocko Willink
- Bret Easton Ellis
- Andrew Yang
- Bryan Callen
- Julie Lindahl
- Sam Harris
- Vitalik Buterin
- Garry Kasparov
- London Tsai
- Garrett Lisi
- Tyler Cowen
- Anna Khachiyan
- Eric Weinstein – State of the Portal 2020
- Bret Weinstein
- Sir Roger Penrose
- Ashley Mathews (Riley Reid)
- Ben Greenfield
- Agnes Callard
- Kai Lenny
- The Construct: Jeffrey Epstein
Geometric Unity – a First Look
- James O’Keefe
- Daniel Schmachtenberger
- Eric Lewis
- Jamie Metzl
- Ross Douthat
- Ryan Holiday