Lennix Smith: Man On the Move | Man on A Mission
Lennix Smith was on a layover in Padang Airport, on the way back to his hometown of Shellharbour, after three weeks in the Mentawai Islands. He’d split his time between the resorts of Kandui and Pitstops and was travelling with Josh and Sierra Kerr, Hughie Vaughan, and some of Surfing Australia’s best high-performance coaches.
“You know when you have perfect waves, and the coaching and mentoring of the guys like Kerrzy, plus surfing with everyone who is pushing so hard, and I felt we were all surfing an extra 10 per cent,” said Smith.
Despite being surfed out, and ready for home, the 18-year-old couldn’t resist a check of the forecasts. He spotted a purple blob heading towards the West Coast of Africa, and his mind quickly scrambled.
“I said to Hughie, ‘Skeleton Bay will be firing, let’s just go.’ We booked our tickets in Padang, flew back to Oz, packed the faithful O&E coffin bag with boards and wetsuits, and went the next day,” said Smith.
They enlisted another South Coast charger and mate, Aaron Cox, who had surfed the last epic Namibia swell in June and knew the ropes. The trio flew to Bangkok, then Ethiopia, and on to Namibia. All there was left to do after that was a 5-hour drive through the desert.
“We had two days where it was pumping from first light to 3 pm, with hardly anyone in the water,” smiled Smith. “The pros had come for a swell the week before and bailed. It was a four-kilometre-long perfect left and probably the best two days of surfing of my life.”
Smith had started surfing in his hometown of Barack Point, Shellharbour aged three. His dad Matt, a talented surfer who in Lenny’s words, “still goes pretty good for an old bloke,” pushed Lenny and then his younger brother Cash into waves at Little Lake. The pair progressed to surfing the beaches over the breakwall when Lenny was around six before Matt took them out at Cowries, a famous slab in the middle of town.
“I first surfed it about two foot and shat myself,” laughs Smith. “But I was so lucky to grow up in a town with so many quality waves. Plus, there are so many slabs, that surfing those types of waves just becomes a part of your normal surfing schedule.”
Smith also surfed in the local Southbridge Boardriders from a grom and found his talent was combined with a natural drive for the competitive side of surfing. By the age of 16, he had claimed two Australian Titles and had been crowned the Occy Grom Comp Champion.Competitively 2023 was another breakout year for the natural footer. After a relatively slow start to the year, he claimed the Gold Coast Open QS 1000, his first senior title. He backed that up with back-to-back JQS victories, securing himself No. 2 on the Aussie junior rankings and a spot at the World Junior Titles to be held in Brazil at the end of November.
And after a whirlwind year that also featured a first trip to Teahupo’o, the three weeks in Indo and that bolt to score Skeleton Bay, he’s not the type to sit back, relax and count his Instagram followers. After a few nights in his own bed, he was heading up the Gold Coast for a month to knuckle down, hit the gym and work with the Surfing Australia coaches at their High Performance Centre in Casuarina.
“The end goal is to be on the CT tour and make the top 5 in the world. I just know I have to work hard over the next few years to give myself the best opportunity to get in a position where that might be possible,” finished Smith. “For the moment though, I just got to take it all in, enjoy myself and not get too far ahead of myself. We’ll see what happens.”
Your First Surfboard?
My first custom surfboard was a little green board made by Dylan Longbottom, I grew up watching Dyl, he was a local legend, and he made all my boards as a grom. I still have it!
The Most Scared You’ve Been in The Ocean
Easy, recently at Teahupo’o. It was my first trip there. I’d had a few sessions when it wasn’t that big, then one afternoon it picked up and there were probably a few rogue 8-foot sets. A big one came through and I was with my mate Hughie Vaughan who screamed to go. I swung late, nose-dived and went over the falls. I seriously thought I was going to drown. I came up and Torren Martyn and Benji Brand were paddling over to rescue me. It was the most rattled I’d ever been in the ocean.
Most Embarrassing Moment
Well, recently I had to spend three days in Jakarta because I went to the wrong Jakarta airport and missed my flight. Then I got Covid, so that was pretty embarrassing. It was maybe the worst three days of my life.
Best Ever Wave
Probably a wave at Kirra about two years ago. I swear I was frothing so hard I came in crying. And the shore was packed with filmers and I was running up the beach with Connor Lee. Connor had seen the wave and he was asking every photographer and filmer if they had the footage and no one got it. I couldn’t believe it. I mean if it doesn’t get filmed, did it even happen (laughs).
Words by Ben Mondy