10 young athletes will take part in the largest 2-day rowing regatta in the world

The sport of rowing is making a comeback here in Hawaiʻi after more than 50 years. Two-time Olympian Shelley Oates-Wilding started a Hawaii youth rowing program 10 years ago.

Oates-Wilding, who is also the head coach of the U.S. National Sprint Canoe and Kayak Team, founded the nonprofit Ikaika Hawaiʻi to provide young people with access to college opportunities.

Since the program began in 2012, Ikaika Hawaiʻi has sent nearly 40 athletes to row collegially.

The sport of rowing was popular in Hawaii’s waterways for over 100 years, dating back to the reign of King Kalākaua in 1875.

“King Kalākaua actually celebrated his birthday with a big rowing regatta. But then, in the 1950s, rowing became an inter-school sport here. So it was an ILH sport, and ʻIolani actually became the first-ever high school team to make the finals at the Olympic Trials,” Oates-Wilding told HPR.

“Now it’s actually been 50 years since a Hawaiian crew has been represented on the mainland and that’s exactly what we’re about to do at Head of the Charles,” she said. .

Ten athletes from Ikaika Hawaiʻi will travel to Boston next month to compete in the world’s largest two-day rowing regatta, the Head of the Charles.

The group is raising money for the trip to Boston this Saturday, Sept. 17 with a Row-A-Thon at Magic Island, where Hawaiian youth will row from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Naomi C. Amerson