Tips from the Pro's - Little and Large

You probably couldn’t get much more contrast between PWA members in terms of size than teammates Kai Lenny (Naish / Naish) and Tom Hartmann (Naish / Naish). Kai, being probably the smallest and lightest PWA member, and Tom one of the heaviest,(Certainly on the Freestyle scene), means these two have quite varying requirements in terms of equipment. Here are some of their tips for sailors at each end of the scale.


Kai Lenny (Naish/Naish)

14 year old Kai is leading the development of the Little Ripper line for Naish, outlining their commitment to kids windsurfing, increasingly for more advanced standards to complement their entry level products. Kai is already a force to be reckoned with in his local waves in Maui, and now we see him at PWA Freestyle events.

Kai is using Little Ripper rigs for both wave and freestyle disciplines. Like teammate Kauli Seadi (Quatro/ Naish) he uses quite long harness lines with 24 inches being, size for size, quite long.

Kai’s personal masts are even softer than the regular Ripper mast, which is 340 long, and uses the new Naish front end with its interesting front end curve - similar to the booms Josh Angulo’s used for some time now. Naish's specialist kids gear is not only lighter but also significantly softer, suiting the super lightweight status of its intended riders. Kai says Nils Rosenblad, Naish’s chief designer, noticed that the kids gear and small adult sizes were too stiff for smaller windsurfers, prompting this range to feature sails from 4.2 down to 2.2 sqm.

Kai reckons he’s on a 3.7 or 3.2 at Ho’okipa when the ‘Big Guys’ are sailing 5.3 or 4.7 there. He weighs in at 38kg!

His Freestyle board looks like a production Playmate, and is due to go into production as a more advanced level kid’s board.  Their current board is aimed at more entry-level sailors who perhaps can only dream of the day they join Lenny in the Hawaiian surf.

Wave board wise he uses scoop-rockered boards based on the main line Naish production wave boards, but they are 6’1“ and 40 litres. Kai reckons he uses the same boards even if the waves are more European style, and onshore, so we might yet see him at howling onshore events like Pozo. And, unusually for many Maui based riders, Kai is used to some Port tack winds as he goes each year with his family and the Naish team to Fiji and Diamond Head.

Tom Hartmann (Naish / Naish)

At 100 kg and Tom Hartmann is the complete opposite to Kai Lenny in terms of gear requirements.

Big Tom, a freestyle and wave specialist, uses the powerful Amps in the larger sizes, and the Force, power wave sail, in the smaller sizes. Being tall and heavy, Tom uses up to 10 cm extra on the downhaul settings for his rigs so he can have the boom higher than most cutouts allow.  Although he’s large and powerful, Tom likes to be on the smallest sail possible at any time on the water.

One of his top tips for heavier sailors is to always use the largest boom on the shortest possible setting to maximise the strength and prevent the common problem that heavier sailors have of regularly bending and breaking booms. He sets his Boom at shoulder height, and has custom-made super long harness lines of 36-38 inches!

Tom’s general rules on sail tuning on his sails of choice are to always keep the same downhaul setting, and to tune the sails through their range using outhaul, although always using the smallest sail possible on the most powerful setting, especially as he likes the power forward in his sails in the waves, and does not use the Boxer and its unique forward power.

Where some sizes overlap on the length of mast they can use, like a 5.0 for example, he‘ll always take the stiffest option i.e. use 430 instead of a 400

Board-wise Tome uses the larger sizes of the Naish range, and for freestyle mainly uses the 116 litre Playmate, with sails as small as a 5.0 In higher winds he’ll use the 99 Playmate, but if its really choppy, he’ll use the 99 even in lighter winds.

With massive feet Tom uses his footstraps quite tight and the track ¾ of the way forward in its box. He uses 23 cm Freestyle fins and up to 22cm for waves, which would even handle his biggest sail a 7.0 Amp

Many Mahalos Tom and Kai.

© PWA / Brian McDowell