This story has nothing to do with me and my success at the Molokai relay race. The reality with this race is that you need a great partner and, win or lose, I’ve had many great partners that have helped me across the Ka’iwi channel. I can name them all and each one holds a story of their own, but I want to share the story of Patrick Dolan.
There can be many directions I can take this story because of the many years I’ve known Pat. I’ve been able to watch him blossom from a hungry and determined fourteen-year-old to his present-day 31 year-old self who has become one of Hawaii’s most versatile paddlers, a soon to be father, a loyal loving husband, and one down-to-earth solid human.
As I had the privilege to ride along and watch Pat in the 2019 Ka’iwi relay, I couldn’t help but think about the years that have gone by and all that has come with them. As I was on the escort thinking back through these years, Pat was out there in the race putting on a clinic for the rest of the competitors.
My thoughts went back to 2005, our first attempt together at this race when Pat was just a junior in high school. Impressively enough he was putting on a clinic back then, too. Pat led off the start of that race, which that determined sixteen-year-old told me before the race that this was going to be his intention. We ended up running away from some tight battles that day and held a slight lead through the race. For Pat, the victory was sweet and it came with some rewarding and meaningful feelings. I was so happy for him that day and was glad to be a big part of it for him and his family.
I rewind the clock from there and find myself thinking of the first time I met Pat; I’ll never forget that day. We paddled for Lanikai Canoe Club and the men were doing an OC-1 run from Lanikai beach to 5-10 minutes outside the Mokulua islands and then down to Popoia Island (flat island) and back to Lanikai beach.
John Foti was leading the practice and had us regroup 10 minutes outside the Mokulua islands. I sat there with John waiting for the group to all gather up, anxious to get going on the downwind segment of the run, when I noticed this kid paddle up to line with us. Mind you, this was a pretty nice sized ocean, we were a good 2 miles offshore, and it’s well-known that there can be big fish out there too, haha! I turned to John and asked him a series of questions: “Who the heck is this kid and what is he doing out here? Does his family know he’s out here with us?” John turned to me and gave me the Foti shoulder shrug and said, “it’s this kid Pat and he said he wants to paddle with us after his keiki (kids) practice.” I gave John a look and said, “that kid is crazy! I hope he makes it in in one piece.”
My concern wasn’t so much him, but the older equipment he was on. There was probably nothing wrong with the canoe but, being an older model, I had my concerns about its ability to hold up in these conditions. When we came in from the run I told myself I was going to have to upgrade this kid’s equipment if he was gonna keep coming outside the Mokes with us. And thus it all began!
~ Kai Bartlett