Intercollegiate Rowing Association
The Intercollegiate Rowing Association runs the IRA Championship Regatta, which is considered to be the United States collegiate national championship of rowing. Since 1995, it has been held on the Cooper River in Pennsauken, New Jersey, and includes both men's and women's (lightweight) events for sweep boats of all sizes. Today, Columbia, Cornell, Pennsylvania, Navy, and Syracuse are members of the association. Each year these five schools choose whom to invite to the regatta and are responsible for its organization along with the ECAC. The IRA is the oldest college rowing championship in the United States.
Columbia, Cornell and Pennsylvania were the organizing stewards of the IRA Regatta first held on the Hudson River at Poughkeepsie, New York, on June 24, 1895. The format through 1967 with the exception of 1964 was to line all the entries in the race onto stake-boats and fire a shotgun for the start. In the last race of this format in 1967 on Onondaga Lake, sixteen varsity crews waited for the gun to begin their three mile race — winner take all. The format was changed in the Olympic year, 1968, to heats and finals over a 2000 meter, six-lane course. This heat-rep-final, six-lane, 2000 meter format continues today.
Since the 1920s, when the West Coast crews — notably California and Washington — began to attend and regularly win, most crews considered the Intercollegiate Rowing Association's championship (known as the IRA) to be a de facto national championship. Two important crews, Harvard and Yale, however, did not participate in the heavyweight divisions of the event. (After losing to Cornell in 1897, Harvard and Yale chose to avoid the IRA, so as not to diminish the Harvard-Yale Regatta. It soon became part of each school's tradition not to go). And beginning in 1973, Washington decided to skip the IRA because of change in schedule conflicted with its finals. Washington, however, returned to the regatta in 1995. In 2003, after an absence of over one hundred years, Harvard and Yale decided to participate. The Harvard Freshman eight competed at the 1970 IRA Regatta, finishing seventh in the Freshman event.
- For collegiate rowing champions (U.S.), see: Intercollegiate sports team champions#Rowing
- For IRA "men's varsity heavyweight eights" champions (1898–present), see: Intercollegiate sports team champions#Men's Varsity Heavyweight Eights
- For IRA "men's varsity lightweight eights" champions (1990–present), see: Intercollegiate sports team champions#Men's Varsity Lightweight Eights
- For IRA "men's overall points" champions (1952–present), see: Intercollegiate sports team champions#Men's Overall Points
- For IRA "women's varsity lightweight eights" champions (1997–present), see: Intercollegiate sports team champions#Women's Varsity Lightweight Eights