The Harvard and Yale race first ran in 1852, yet Yale have just won the IRA’s for the first time in the 122 year history of the race.

It was a stunning race with Washington coming right back to close the gap to 6 hundredth of a second.


Cornell, founders of the cup, still have the most wins. But have not won a race since 1982. Of the Universities that have won IRA race before World War 1,  none have won an IRA championships since 1992. UPenn had a three way dead heat with Dartmouth and Navy in 1992.

The only time a winner was disqualified was in 1954. The race also did not run during the war years of 1917,1918, 1919, 1933 and between 1942-1946.

Looking at the 122 years of racing it was interesting to look at how the wins have been shared out. Yale and Dartmouth have only won 1 race, and Dartmouth did not win that one outright in 1992.

Number of wins at IRA since 1895

The Era’s…

I have broken the competition down into 5 era’s:

Pre World War I
Between the World Wars,
After World War 2 until 1969
1970’s and 1980’s
1990 until today

It is interesting to see how the streaks of wins vary. How some colleges seem to have faded and how others only had a brief time in the spotlight and then faded.

No College has won in all 5 eras, with five of them winning in 4 eras. Both Cornell and Pennsylvania won pre World War 1, but Cornell have not won in the modern era, with Penn failing to win between the wars. Cal, Washington and Navy are other colleges that have won in four eras, none of them winning pre World War 1.

From left to right most wins to least

It is very clear that in the modern era, Cal and Washington have been the colleges to beat, with 50% of the wins between them. Cal and Washington had the same kind of domination in the years between the wars with about 55% of the wins between them. The boys in the boat is part of that Washington’s era.

Interestingly Harvard, Yale and Dartmouth have only won their races in the modern era since 1990. With Princeton, Northeastern and Brown only winning their Championships since the 1970. Columbia on the other hand have not won any Championships since World War 2.


Since the inception of the NCAA Championships for Women’s VIII’s in 1997 we can see how the Men and Women’s programmes have done. Only Washington, Harvard and Cal have won both NCAA and IRA titles.

Washington are leading with 12, Cal on 10 and Harvard on 4. The Brown women lead the way with 8 NCAA championships since 1997. It is clear that Title IX has made the women’s division more competitive than the men’s. In the Men’s Divisions Cal and Washington have won 15 of the 21 races, where the women have shared the wins around a bit more.

Number of wins for each College since 1997

On only 4 occasions have the Men and the Women from the same College won both titles in the same year, 1997, 2003, 2006 and 2016. Cal managing it twice in 2006 and a decade later in 2016.

I would love to hear from people who know the college system very well. Maybe you have some insights into why some of these changes have occurred? Do leave some comments.