SUP: Feel the love… Jenny ‘Waikiki Love’ Lee

Peter Tranter interviews City and County Lifeguard, outrigger canoe paddler, mum and Mistral International Team Rider, Jenny Lee, a real inspiration for other women in water sports…

Aloha, I was born and raised on the island of O’ahu. I’m currently working as a City and County Lifeguard and have a 10-year-old daughter named Lilly. I started surfing competitively in long boarding when I was eight and transitioned into SUP about eight years ago.

Firstly, what boards are you using?
My boards are from Mistral. They are custom shaped Take-off boards that surf really well. Fun in any conditions.

Where and what was your first surf and what got you hooked?
According to my dad the first time I surfed was when I was two. He said we caught one wave and I kept pointing back out to catch more waves. I honestly can’t remember my life without surfing! So to answer your question I was hooked at two-years old!

Jenny ‘Waikiki Love’ Lee

What and where was your first competition?
My first SUP competition was China Uemuras Wahine Classic in Waikiki. It’s a great local contest we have here in Hawaii every year.

Which do you prefer – surfing or racing and why?
I definitely prefer the surfing aspect of SUP. Racing is great but takes a lot of time away from my family to train so I don’t do it as often as I used to.

How does SUP give you satisfaction?
I’m always stoked to be on the water and SUP is the perfect way for me to get my fix everyday because I can cruise, surf, or dive off of my SUP. It’s so easy.

You’ve just taken part in the World Cup of Dragon boating – how did that happen?
My boyfriend went to Hungary with Team USA for Dragon boat racing and really enjoyed it. So when the opportunity came up for him again this year, he asked if I could come along and participate as well. Luckily they were short a few paddlers and I got to go! It was such an awesome experience. I met some really great people and got to be competitive in a completely different paddle sport. I definitely feel that my SUP paddling background made for an easier transition into the realm of dragon boating.

What do you consider to be the biggest accomplishment in your career to date?
Doing the Moloka’i Channel is definitely one of my biggest accomplishments. It’s a piece of the ocean I respect so much and I’m really happy I got to complete it.


Surfing in Makaha on the west side of Oahu

Can you talk about your training? Greatest inspiration? Who/what keeps you motivated?
For training I do yoga and a lot of hiking. The ocean is without a doubt my greatest inspiration. It allows me to enjoy an active ocean lifestyle. At the end of the day I want to be doing what I love with my family right my side, and also be able to continue sharing it with people all over the world. That vision pushes me and keeps me motivated everyday.

What would be your ultimate achievement?
My ultimate achievement is simple. I want to be able to give back to my community and inspire the next generation of watermen and women.

Are you naturally competitive?
I am definitely not a naturally competitive person. I used to drive my parents nuts when I was younger because I could surf good, but had such a hard time competing. It took a while for me to teach myself to really get in there, and be more aggressive so that I could start advancing through heats in any contest.


Surfing in my favourite surf spot, ‘Queens’, in Waikiki

What’s next for you in the next 12 months for you in the growing sport of SUP?
In the next 12 months there’s a lot going on. Summer time is usually very busy and loaded with fun events such as the M2O and the Duke’s Ocean fest. I’m also looking forward to progressing in my SUP surfing. The sport in itself grew so fast that progression is practically moving by the day. And I’m also looking forward to more travelling.

What advantages are there to being a Mistral rider?
I feel very fortunate being able to work with a company like Mistral. Mistral has been around for a very long time with quality brand products that have always been at or near the top of the industry. Mistral is really passionate about doing the same in the SUP industry and I am glad to be a part of that passion.

Where do you see yourself in 20 years?
Ha-ha, I don’t know? Happy, loving life, and still surfing!


Surfing in the women’s SUP final in the Pop’s Ah Choy event in memory of the innovator of SUP paddling as we know it today. Photo: Paul Teruya

I’m into SUP and going on vacation, where would you recommend?
I would recommend you come to Hawaii! You can get some great waves and also do some fun downwind runs if you are into distance racing.

OK Jenny let’s finish with something short and snappy…
If you could paddle with anyone in the world dead or alive who would it be?
I would paddle with Rell Sunn and Duke Kahanamoku. They were both amazing ambassadors of surfing and I think they both would love SUP!

Which famous person would you most like to see play you in a film?
Angelina Jolie I think she’s rad!

Pick two celebrities to be your parents…
Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt.

Favourite film?
Definitely Anchor Man.

Favourite iPod track?
Favourite iPod track right now is Foster the People.

What would you do with $20 million?
If I had $20 million I would start a business, buy us a new house, have more kids, travel more and finally get my farm so I can grow my own food and have a massive aquaponics set up. The rest I would just save.


Highest scoring wave of the competition in the women’s SUP final in Waikiki

Cats or dogs

Facebook or Twitter

What would I find in your refrigerator right now?

If we came to your house for dinner, what would you prepare for us?
Spaghetti, it’s the only edible thing I make ha-ha! Oh and a cup of water!

What one luxury item would you take with you on a desert island?
A Mistral Inflatable iSUP! I can use it as a bed, to explore, a roof, a blanket, who knows?

What do you get really angry about?
Crowded surf! Especially when it’s crowded with people who can’t surf and are disrespectful in the line-ups.

Any broken bones?
Nope! Strong as an Ox!

Worst injury?
Stitches under my chin.

If you could be a wild animal – what would it be?
A dolphin for sure.

Fill in the blanks: I am ______?
Waikiki Love.

Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule:)


Checking the waves on my Kona Brew Cruiser near Diamond Head

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