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Intercollegiate Rowing Association

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Intercollegiate Rowing Association
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WebsiteIRA official website

The Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) governs intercollegiate rowing between varsity men's heavyweight, men's lightweight, and women's lightweight rowing programs across the United States, while the NCAA fulfills this role for women's open weight rowing.[1] It is the direct successor to the Rowing Association of American Colleges, the first collegiate athletic organization in the United States,[2] which operated from 1870–1894.

The IRA was founded by Cornell, Columbia, and Penn in 1894 and its first annual regatta was hosted on June 24, 1895. Today Navy and Syracuse are also part of the association. Each year these five schools choose whom to invite to the IRA National Championship Regatta and are responsible for its organization.

The IRA runs the IRA National Championship Regatta, which since 1895 has been considered to be the United States collegiate national championship of men's rowing. This regatta today includes both men's and women's (lightweight) events for 8- and 4-oared sweep boats with coxswains and a women's lightweight double scull (two-oars for each rower) event.

The IRA National Championship is the oldest college rowing championship in the United States.


The University of Wisconsin varsity sport rowing team competing in the Intercollegiate Rowing Association regatta on June 11, 1914 at the Poughkeepsie Bridge.

Columbia, Cornell and Pennsylvania were the organizing stewards of the Poughkeepsie Regatta, the IRA Championship until 1949. The first edition was 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, in Syracuse, New York, 16 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 2,000-meter, six-lane course. This heat-rep-final, six-lane, 2,000 meter format continues today.[3]

Since the 1920s, when the West Coast crews—notably California and Washington—began to attend and regularly win, the Intercollegiate Rowing Association's championship (known as the IRA) has been considered the national championship for collegiate rowing. Two important crews, Harvard and Yale, however, did not participate in the heavyweight divisions of the event for a lengthy period. (After losing to Cornell in 1897, Harvard and Yale chose to avoid the IRA, so as not to diminish the Harvard–Yale Regatta. The IRA championship was held each year preceding that regatta, which Harvard and Yale considered more important to their schools and alumni than the IRA event. It soon became part of each school's tradition not to participate.) Beginning in 1973, Washington decided to skip the IRA because a change in schedule conflicted with its finals. Washington, however, returned to the regatta in 1995.

From 1982 to 1996, another event, the Cincinnati Regatta (which renamed itself the National Collegiate Rowing Championship), was held in Cincinnati with funding from a benefactor. It was viewed by some crews as an additional, quasi-championship, as the field included Harvard and Yale, as well as medalists from the IRA regatta, Pac-10 and Eastern Sprints. In 2003, after an absence of over one hundred years, Harvard and Yale decided to participate in the IRA championship.

Before 2006, some competitive club rowing programs, which receive little or no funding from their university athletic departments, were invited to the IRA Championship. In 2006, Rutgers University cut funding from its men's rowing program, reducing it to "club" status. Part of Rutger's justification for cutting rowing was that clubs could compete equally with funded programs at the IRA Championships. To avoid other members from losing funding, the IRA excluded clubs from competing at its championship beginning in 2007, leading to the creation of the American Collegiate Rowing Association for clubs.[4]

The IRA regatta was cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


An IRA race in 2017

Varsity Heavyweight Eights[edit]


Year and Champion Year and Champion Year and Champion Year and Champion Year and Champion Year and Champion Year and Champion
1895 Columbia 1913 Syracuse 1932 California 1951 Wisconsin 1970 Washington 1989 Pennsylvania 2008 Wisconsin
1896 Cornell 1914 Columbia 1933 - not held * 1952 Navy 1971 Cornell 1990 Wisconsin 2009 Washington
1897 (a) Cornell 1915 Cornell 1934 California 1953 Navy 1972 Pennsylvania 1991 Northeastern 2010 California
1897 (b) Cornell 1916 Syracuse 1935 California 1954 Winner disqualified † 1973 Wisconsin 1992 Dartmouth, Navy, Penn (tie)[6] 2011 Washington
1898 Pennsylvania 1917 - not held 1936 Washington 1955 Cornell 1974 Wisconsin 1993 Brown 2012 Washington
1899 Pennsylvania 1918 - not held 1937 Washington 1956 Cornell 1975 Wisconsin 1994 Brown 2013 Washington
1900 Pennsylvania 1919 - not held 1938 Navy 1957 Cornell 1976 California 1995 Brown 2014 Washington
1901 Cornell 1920 Syracuse 1939 California 1958 Cornell 1977 Cornell 1996 Princeton 2015 Washington
1902 Cornell 1921 Navy 1940 Washington 1959 Wisconsin 1978 Syracuse 1997 Washington 2016 California[7]
1903 Cornell 1922 Navy 1941 Washington 1960 California 1979 Brown 1998 Princeton 2017 Yale
1904 Syracuse 1923 Washington 1942 - not held 1961 California 1980 Navy 1999 California 2018 Yale[8]
1905 Cornell 1924 Washington 1943 - not held 1962 Cornell 1981 Cornell 2000 California 2019 Yale
1906 Cornell 1925 Navy 1944 - not held 1963 Cornell 1982 Cornell 2001 California 2020 - not held
1907 Cornell 1926 Washington 1945 - not held 1964 California 1983 Brown 2002 California 2021 Washington
1908 Syracuse 1927 Columbia 1946 - not held 1965 Navy 1984 Navy 2003 Harvard 2022 California
1909 Cornell 1928 California 1947 Navy 1966 Wisconsin 1985 Princeton 2004 Harvard 2023 California
1910 Cornell 1929 Columbia 1948 Washington 1967 Pennsylvania 1986 Brown 2005 Harvard 2024 Washington
1911 Cornell 1930 Cornell 1949 California 1968 Pennsylvania 1987 Brown 2006 California 2025
1912 Cornell 1931 Navy 1950 Washington 1969 Pennsylvania 1988 Northeastern 2007 Washington 2026

* Not held in 1933 due to the Depression. However, the first college 2000-meter national championship ever held was conducted by local businessmen in Long Beach, California, as a substitute. Washington raced both Harvard and Yale for the first time at this event and defeated Yale by eight lengths to win the championship.[9] Washington counts this victory among its string of Men’s National Varsity Eight Championships.[10]

Navy was disqualified from the IRA Regatta for use of an ineligible coxswain. Trophies won by Navy were forfeited and not awarded. Cornell finished second.[11]

Number of Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championships: Men's Varsity Heavyweight Eights[edit]

1 Cornell University (26 championships)

2 University of Washington (20 championships)

3 University of California - Berkeley (19 championships)

4 US Naval Academy (12 championships)

5 University of Pennsylvania (12 championships)

6 University of Wisconsin - Madison (12 championships)

7 Brown University (7 championships)

8 Syracuse University (6 championships)

9 Columbia University (4 championships)

10 Princeton University (3 championships)

10 Harvard University (3 championships)

10 Yale University (3 championships)

13 Northeastern University (2 championships)

14 Dartmouth College (1 championship)

Ten Eyck Trophy[edit]

The Jim Ten Eyck Memorial Trophy is awarded to the school amassing the most overall points in a system based on the finishing places of three heavyweight eights crews. From 1952 through 1973, the winning team was the one with the most points in the varsity, junior varsity and freshman eights. Starting in 1974, all races counted in the scoring under a system adopted by the coaches of the Eastern Association of Rowing Colleges. More recently, the scoring system was revised to include only three of the four possible eights from each school in the points standings.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ http://www.row2k.com/ira/2012/05182012IRA110thInvitationandEntry.pdf [bare URL PDF]
  2. ^ "Rowing Association of American Colleges". Archived from the original on 2008-05-17. Retrieved 2009-12-16.
  3. ^ "List of Champions". Archived from the original on 2008-05-17. Retrieved 2007-02-11.
  4. ^ "ACRA Enters a New Era, Part 1: The Formation of ACRA". row2k.com. Retrieved 2023-05-03.
  5. ^ "Intercollegiate Rowing Association Regatta Results". Archived from the original on 2008-05-17. Retrieved 2009-12-16.
  6. ^ "Controversy and Video Replay Mark 3-Way Tie in Regatta". New York Times. 7 June 1992. Retrieved 2014-03-14.
  7. ^ "Championship Races: IRA National Championship Regatta, June 5, 2016; Mercer Lake, NJ". Retrieved 2016-06-05.
  8. ^ "IRA National Championship Regatta Results". Intercollegiate Rowing Association. 3 June 2018. Retrieved 2018-06-05.
  9. ^ "Husky Crew 1930-39". Retrieved 2009-12-14.
  10. ^ "University of Washington Husky Crew 2009" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-11-12. Retrieved 2009-12-14.
  11. ^ "(Princeton) Heavyweight Crew" (PDF). Retrieved 2009-12-14.
  12. ^ "James Ten Eyck Memorial Trophy". IRA Rowing. Retrieved 2021-07-27.

External links[edit]