The Buzz About Michael Kliks

Ron Mizutani
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Wednesday - June 25, 2008
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At 65, Kliks is still getting his kicks in the ocean
At 65, Kliks is still getting his kicks in the ocean

Former world champion body-surfer Michael Kliks has a real sweet spot for honey. When he isn’t searching for the perfect wave, you can often find him searching for the perfect beehive.

“I have more than a million bees at my house,” says the master beekeeper of Manoa. “Sometimes I sit down by my colonies with a glass of wine and watch little golden flickers of light come in and out and I can’t help but marvel at them.”

Kliks is a professional entomologist who started beekeeping years ago to stay active in science. His love for bees and honey has made him a vocal supporter of diversified agriculture.

“If we don’t have food security and sustainability in Hawaii, we’re doomed,” he says emphatically. “We need to be self-sufficient and provide alternatives for the future, and I believe honey production could be one of them.”

His love for nature carries over into the ocean. Kliks started bodysurfing nearly six decades ago in, of all places, the Pacific Northwest.

“I started bodysurfing while growing up along the Oregon Coast,” he fondly recalls. “Neahkahnie was perfect point break, but it was cold! The warmest it got was 60 degrees.”


In 1976, Kliks followed his wife to Hawaii and instantly fell in love with the islands. A year later, a friend took him to a surf spot called Point Panic, where he met legendary surfer Buttons Kaluhiokalani and bodysurfer Clarence “Buddha” Akina.

“They taught me how to go to the right and ride the wave correctly because before that I only went straight,” he laughed. “They showed me that it’s not how powerful you are but how graceful and skilled you are. They danced on waves - it was like watching an aquatic ballet.”

Kliks learned to dance as well, and eventually got so good he won a world championship. “It took me 11 years and a lot of aging,” says Kliks of his victory in the 1988 Honolulu Bodysurfing Championships. “I was 46 years old and I beat folks from all over world.”

Kliks won several more world championships and is still competing at the age of 65.

“Bodysurfing has kept me away from the bad elements of life,” he says. “All sports are challenging, but this one in particular offers life-changing challenges. You have to stay strong or you’ll drown.”


While Kliks has found success, it is his passion to share the sport with the next generation that drives him. Kliks recently organized the 10th annual World Handboarding and Paepo Boarding Championships at Point Panic, a spot set aside exclusively for bodysurfing in 1994. “Mother Nature delivered with a big south swell and the conditions were perfect,” says Kliks. “We saw world-class athletes perform all kinds of tricks and the young talent was outstanding.”

In between tallying scores and keeping heats moving along, Kliks found time to compete in the Dugong division for those 60 years and over. “The dugong is a marine mammal related to the manatee, a legendary creature that is old, strong, smart, fat and gentle,” he chuckles. “But it’s not just about organizing a contest - we need to educate young people about the importance of protecting nature - in this case, Point Panic. If we don’t. we’ll lose it.”

Whether it’s his love for the ocean or his love for honey - the buzz is preparing for the future is a way of life for master beekeeper Michael Kliks.

 

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