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10 young athletes to compete in world’s largest 2-day rowing regatta

Courtesy Ikaika Hawaiʻi

The sport of rowing is making a comeback here in Hawaiʻi, after more than 50 years. Two-time Olympian Shelley Oates-Wilding started a rowing program for Hawaiʻi youth 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 youth with access to collegiate opportunities.

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

The sport of rowing was popular in Hawaiʻi’s waterways for more than 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 actually became an interscholastic high 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 its actually been 50 years since any crew from Hawaiʻi represented on the mainland and that’s exactly what we’re about to do at the Head of the Charles," she said.

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

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

Kuʻuwehi Hiraishi is a general assignment reporter at Hawaiʻi Public Radio. Her commitment to her Native Hawaiian community and her fluency in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi has led her to build a de facto ʻōiwi beat at the news station. Send your story ideas to her at khiraishi@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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