The Yale-Harvard Regatta is two years shy of its 150th anniversary and, as such, is the oldest collegiate sports event in the United States. Yale-Harvard football is old, too, but the regatta predates that by 23 years.
The first race came about because Yale issued a challenge that Harvard accepted. The Crimson won the race Aug. 3, 1852, on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire. Attending that year was Franklin Pierce, who would be elected president.
Yale issued another challenge in 1855, Harvard winning this time on the Connecticut River in Springfield.
The event became a regular item on the schools' athletic calendars in 1864. In 1878 the regatta came to New London and generally has been there since, Yale arriving 12 days before the June 28 race in 1878.
Early on, the rules that governed the race were the subject of much debate.
The Courant wrote of a meeting in Boston in February 1883: "It is understood that hereafter no challenge shall be sent, but the race is rowed every year as a matter of course. In the conference Yale wished to start from the stern and end with the bow, and Harvard wished to start and end with the bow. It was finally agreed that both boats should start and finish at the center. The race will be rowed at New London the Thursday after Yale's commencement. The start of the race was much complicated, and diagrams and plans have been drawn and the location of the boats agreed upon."
President Theodore Roosevelt was at the 50th anniversary of the regatta, won by Yale. In 1925, the crowd was estimated at 100,000. In 1934 Harvard alum and U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt attended; his son Franklin Jr. was on the Crimson's junior varsity crew team. In 1963, Channel 3, for the first time, did a one-hour special the night of the race. The Hartford TV station followed the race from a helicopter.
Arriving June 21, 1934, The Courant's Bert Keane wrote: "Welcomed by the Presidential salute from the Coast Guard Academy and by the fanfare of bugles and drums at the Submarine Base, President Roosevelt arrived here this morning to remain until Friday night, when he will be a spectator at the Yale-Harvard Regatta.
"President Roosevelt was aboard the yacht Sequoia, which was escorted into the harbor and up the Thames by the cutter Cuyahoga and two Coast Guard patrol boats. The boats moved up river to a point near Red Top, Harvard crew headquarters.
"Strangely enough as the Sequoia reached this point the Harvard freshman crew, in which Franklin D. Roosevelt Jr. pulls number six oar, was swinging down the stream in a training test. Roosevelt senior watched the crew closely and especially the work of his namesake son."
The 2013 race was coach Harry Parker's 51st and final Harvard-Yale Regatta and ended his record at 44-7 all-time against the Elis. Parker, who died last June at 77 shortly after leading Harvard to another win, was an East Hartford native.
Harvard leads the all-time series, 94-54.
A trip around other state schools and their history, with material provided by the schools' sports information departments:
Albertus Magnus: The women's tennis team was first to play, in 1925.
Bridgeport: Some famous alumni include former NBA player Manute Bol, Giants great Andy Robustelli (Arnold College), Canadian Football Hall of Famer George Dixon, golfer Julius Boras, NFL player Nick Giaquinto.
Central Connecticut: First athletic competition was men's basketball, 1937, lost to Trinity Jayvee 38-21 and finished 3-7 that first season. Some famous alumni include Scott Pioli, assistant GM, Atlanta Falcons (former GM of Chiefs, Patriots); Mike Sherman, former head coach of the Packers and Texas A&M, former offensive coordinator of Dolphins; Steve Addazio, head coach at Boston College; Dave Campo, former coach of Dallas Cowboys, current defensive coordinator at Kansas; Rick Bottalico, former major league pitcher; John Hirschbeck, major league umpire.
Hartford: Then called Hillyer Junior College, the 1947 yearbook lists men's basketball and swimming as sports with the University of Connecticut/Fort Trumbull branch winning on Dec. 17, 1946, 50-35. Some famous alumni include former MLB player Jeff Bagwell, former NBA player Vin Baker, former PGA Tour golfer Jerry Kelly, NBA vice president Kathy Behrens, and Robert Forester — chairman and CEO of Newman's Own & Newman's Own Foundation.
Quinnipiac: Some famous alumni include Turk Wendell, former Major League Baseball player; Eric Hartzell, goalie for the Pittsburgh Penguins; Chris Canetti, president of business operations of Houston Dynamo of the MLS.
Southern Connecticut: Then called New Haven State Teachers' College, the school defeated Stones Business College 77-43 to open the 1947-48 season. Football and baseball then played their first official games in 1948. Some famous alumni include Donna Lopiano, former executive director of the Women's Sports Foundation; Peter Kormann, bronze medalist in floor exercise at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal (first medal in men's gymnastics for U.S. in 44 years); Kevin Gilbride, offensive coordinator for the Giants in two Super Bowls; Chris Palmer, former coach of the Cleveland Browns.
Trinity: Some famous alumni include Christine Collins, bronze medalist in crew; Tom DiBenedetto, part-owner of the Red Sox; Sam Kennedy, president of the Red Sox; Derek Falvey, assistant GM of the Cleveland Indians.
Wesleyan: First athletic competition — Yale defeated Wesleyan 39-13 in baseball in 1865. The game was supposed to be played in the spring but got rescheduled to Sept. 30, 1865. Some famous alumni include Patriots coach Bill Belichick ('75), running legends Bill Rodgers ('70) and Amby Burfoot ('68), former Jets coach Eric Mangini ('94), Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer ('96), and Herb Kelleher ('57), co-founder of Southwest Airlines.
Yale: Some famous alumni (the list numbers in the hundreds): George H.W. Bush — 41st U.S. president; George H.W. Bush — 43rd U.S. president; Bill Clinton 42nd U.S. president; Gerald R. Ford — 38th U.S. president; Dr. Benjamin Spock, pioneer in child psychology; Eli Whitney, inventor of cotton gin; William Wrigley Jr., former CEO, William Wrigley Jr. Co., and former owner of the Chicago Cubs; William F. Buckley Jr., columnist, author and TV host; Gary Trudeau, political cartoonist ("Doonesbury"); Dick Cavett, TV talk show host, comedy writer; Paul Newman, actor; Cole Porter, songwriter; Henry Winkler, actor ("Happy Days"), director, producer; A. Bartlett Giamatti, former MLB commissioner and former president of Yale University; Francis "Fay" Vincent Jr., former MLB commissioner; Thomas Yawkey, longtime owner of the Red Sox.Copyright © 2015, CT Now