A Brief History
On August 3, 1852, two of the oldest and most venerable colleges or universities in the United States conducted a boat race, which became the first ever American intercollegiate athletic event.
Later dubbed “The Harvard–Yale Regatta,” or alternately “The Boat Race,” this seminal annual event is often simply referred to as simply, “The Race.” Originally just varsity rowers competed in a 4 mile race, but now the junior varsity races 3 miles and the freshman teams race 2 miles.
The Race is a heavyweight rowing event that was first rowed at Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire, and was later relocated to the Thames River, Connecticut, although it has also been held at other alternate venues.
For some reason, in 1897 only, a third team competed, this time from Cornell University, which “won” the race although Yale was declared the “winner” against Harvard.
The race has seldom been cancelled, most recently in 2020 due to the Covid 19 epidemic.
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For more information, please see…
Mark on Dark. Rowing Gives Me Huge Joy And Huge Back. Independently published, 2019.
Mendenhall, Thomas. The Harvard Yale Boat Race 1852-1924: And the Coming of Sport to the American College. Mystic Seaport Museum, 1970.
The featured image in this article, a photograph by Pedro Xing of the Harvard Varsity eight crossing the finish line of the 2012 Harvard–Yale Regatta ahead of Yale, is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication.
You can also watch video versions of this article on YouTube.