Malika And The Molokai Channel

Ron Mizutani
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Wednesday - August 06, 2008
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Malika Dudley: 'I had to paddle on the left nearly the whole time'
Malika Dudley: ‘I had to paddle on the left nearly the whole time’

It is obvious Malika Dudley knows no other way than to “go hard or go home.” It’s that take-charge attitude that has brought her so much success in her young life.

A quick glance at her resume will either inspire you or intimidate you: high school valedictorian, Regents Scholar, Junior Olympic silver medalist in karate, 16 martial arts regional titles, 2005 Miss Hawaii and Miss Congeniality at the Miss America Pageant.

You get the picture.

So when Dudley decided she would participate in a relay race across the Molokai (Kaiwi) Channel on a stand-up paddle-board, friends said, “Why not?”

“First of all, I never thought I would cross the Molokai Channel, never an inkling of a thought,” says the KGMB weather anchor. “But thanks to Brian (Keaulana), I trained hard and practiced every day. I knew I was physically ready.”

Like thousands of Island residents, Dudley has been bitten hard by the stand-up paddle bug and says it is the best training tool she’s ever used.

“For many years, while training for pageants, I never felt this good,” she says of her new passion. “I can feel myself getting stronger every day. If I knew then what I know now, life would have been so much easier.”

The butterflies built on the trip from to Oahu to Molokai as she and other competitors flew over the channel. White caps filled the Kaiwi, a sign of strong winds. Racers knew they would be in for a wild event.

Dudley recalls a special visitor on race morning.

“As we were getting ready, a double rainbow filled the sky,” she says. “I knew it was going to be a good day.”

Dudley was one of several “celebrities” taking part in the relay division. She and radio personality Lanai teamed up with Keaulana and Victor Lozano. Dudley says she waited anxiously for her turn in the rotation and, when her number was called, the unexpected happened.

“After months of anticipation and preparation, I didn’t anticipate getting butterflies, but all of a sudden my body and legs started shaking uncontrollably,” she recalls. “It was really frustrating, because I was ready physically for this challenge, and I kept telling myself, get over it. Maybe deep down inside I wasn’t sure I could do it.”

After 10 minutes of frustration, Dudley returned to her escort boat and the anticipation of another opportunity. Her second run was better, her third even stronger.

“The conditions weren’t dangerous, but they were very challenging,” she says of the 32-mile course. “The wind was coming from the north, so we were getting hit with swells on the right. I had to paddle on the left side nearly the whole time.”

A dozen changes and more than seven hours later, the group approached the finish line on Oahu. Dudley’s team-mates decided she would finish the race and cross the finish line.

“They were yelling my name and, yeah, I had a tear, but I told myself be a man,” she laughs. “When I crossed the finish line, I was overwhelmed with emotion. It was truly mind over matter for me.”

Dudley says she appreciates her teammates’ support, but ultimately she had to believe in herself.

“I had to do it,” she says emphatically. “It doesn’t matter if everyone else believes in you. You’ve got to believe in yourself.”

It’s something she’s always been able to do.


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