Rowing Association of American Colleges
The Rowing Association of American Colleges (1870 to 1894) was the first collegiate athletic organization in the United States. Upon organization by the captains of the leading crews of the day, they devised a primary rule of eligibility: that only undergraduate students should be eligible to represent their college in the regatta. To this day, despite numerous amendments and additions, this rule remains the very foundation of the NCAA rules of eligibility.
This table lists the winners of the marquee events of the championship regattas conducted by the RAAC from its founding through 1894.
|1871||Mass. Agricultural College||6s||1877||1883||Cornell||4s||1889||Cornell||8s|
|1871 (July 21)[a]||Ingleside MA||Connecticut River||3||Massachusetts Agricultural College||2||—|
|1872[b]||Springfield, MA||Connecticut River||6||Amherst College||2||6|
|1873[c]||Springfield MA||Connecticut River||?||Yale||(2)||1|
|1874[d]||Saratoga, NY||Lake Saratoga||9||Columbia College||3||9|
|1875[e]||Saratoga NY||Lake Saratoga||13||Cornell||3||5|
|1876[f]||Saratoga NY||Lake Saratoga||?||Cornell||?||—|
On June 30, 1876, Harvard and Yale raced eight-oared boats with coxswains over a 4-mile course on the Connecticut River.[g]Afterward "the Harvard six left for Saratoga. Yale does not row there, and Harvard will not after this year, but the eight-oared bout between Yale and Harvard, so successfully inaugurated to-day, will undoubtedly become an annual and permanent institution."
From 1871 to 1875 Harvard and Yale did not race head-on. Both participated in the RAAC university race from 1872 to 1875 (as Harvard did also in 1871 and 1876), and the Harvard–Yale Regatta recognizes Harvard–Yale varsity races to be incorporated in those RAAC championships.
- The first regatta of the Rowing Association of American Colleges was held July 21, 1871, at Ingleside, Massachusetts, on the Connecticut River. Massachusetts Agricultural College won the university race with Harvard second and Brown University third. Yale did not participate (nor join the RAAC) but continued to dispute its disqualification in the 1870 race with Harvard.
- In the RAAC university race of 1872, Harvard finished second and Yale sixth among six entries. Amherst College won in 16:32.8 or 24.2 seconds ahead of Harvard. The crew generally rowed 40 to 46 strokes per minute. According to The New York Times, "A very strong current and quite a fresh breeze helped them along".
- In the RAAC university race of 1873, Yale was finally declared the winner and the other places were not declared. "Shortly before midnight the referee announced that he would only decide upon the first position for the time being, and Yale he declared the winner of the race. The decision on other positions are reserved for a future time. Capt. Babcock, the referee, has stated to the Harvard boys that he is compelled technically, to award the University race to Yale, but he stated that the flags were not correctly placed at the finish, and that, consequently, the course on the east shore was much greater than on the west shore. The Harvards claim that the champion flags were awarded to them by the judges, whose judgment, like that of many others, was that Harvard had arrived at the finish in advance of all the crews ..." 
- After two days of postponements a much diminished crowd watched the university race of the RAAC Regatta at Saratoga in 1874. Columbia won the race (unofficial time 16:42) officially followed by Wesleyan, Harvard, and six others, finally Yale. "It was unanimously acknowledged that Yale had the lead and Harvard second.Harvard's boat then ran into the Yale boat, breaking the latters' rudder."
- In the RAAC university race of 1875, Harvard finished third and Yale fifth among thirteen boats. Cornell won the race. Yale had been the betting favorite with Cornell second.
- Yale defeated Harvard soundly in a race of eight-oared boats in Springfield on June 30. Harvard continued west to Saratoga for the RAAC Regatta ("the Harvard six", for the Association championship matched "coxless sixes") but Yale did not participate. Harvard did not participate again and the Association disintegrated during the next several years. Regarding the Saratoga and Springfield events: "Yale does not row there, and Harvard will not after this year, but the eight-oared bout between Yale and Harvard, so successfully inaugurated to-day, will undoubtedly become an annual and permanent institution."
- The 1876 Harvard–Yale race introduced both the eight-oar crews with coxswain and the 4-mile distance, two features borrowed from the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race.
- "Rowing Association of American Colleges". Retrieved 2009-12-16.
- "Record of the College Regattas: From the Winnipeseogee Contest in 1852 to that of Yesterday". The New York Times. July 15, 1875.
- "The College Regatta: A Victory for Amherst. Another Surprise—Amherst the winners in 16:32 4-5, the best time on record ...". New York Tribune. July 25, 1872. p. 1.
- "Referee's Decision: Yale to take the Championship Colors". Boston Daily Globe. July 18, 1873.
- "————". San Francisco Chronicle. 1874. evidently quoting multiple accounts in New York Evening Post
- "The News in this City: Intense Excitement Throughout New-York". The New York Times. July 15, 1875. p. 2.
- "College Regatta: Yale and Harvard Eight-Oar Crews Try Conclusions. The Contest Takes Place on the Old Connecticut River Course.". Chicago Daily Tribune. July 1, 1876. p. 8.
- Mallory, Peter (2011). The Sport of Rowing: Two Centuries of Competition (four volumes) (PDF) II. Henley-on-Thames, England: River Rowing Museum. pp. 312–60. Retrieved 2013-05-11. Selections published online in advance as row2k.com Exclusive Features
- "College Regatta: Yale and Harvard Eight-Oar Crews Try Conclusions. The Contest Takes Place on the Old Connecticut River Course." Chicago Daily Tribune. July 1, 1876.
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