Self-propulsion is considered the pinnacle and essence of the big wave endeavour, and quite right too. But there are circumstances under which the jet-propelled surfer thrives.

Oh to be sure, in the wrong hands the jet ski is a pest and a menace, but when used to sling dashing Maui lad Kai Lenny into Pe'ahi's rugged, windy hillocks the results are undeniably wondrous. Big arcing rail turns in the pocket, playful squiggly lines, even airs -- all outside the range of the regular paddler.

Or, as Lenny himself puts it, "the contrast between paddling and towing are so different but so epic in their own ways. I enjoy both equally!" The day after the Pe'ahi Challenge, in which he competed, the Laird acolyte headed to back to Jaws for a cheeky tow and treated the place like a skatepark.