Boat clubs at Harvard and Yale had existed since the early 1840s, but races against outside competition was rare. That all changed when Yale issued a challenge to Harvard “to test the superiority of the oarsmen of the two colleges.“ Thus the oldest intercollegiate athletic event in the United States was born. The Harvard-Yale Regatta, or simply The Race, predating The Game by 23 years, was contested first in 1852 and annually since 1859 except during major wars fought by the United States. It is the only boat race in North America that can contend with Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race.
早在19世纪40年代初，哈佛和耶鲁就已经成立了赛艇俱乐部，但都很少参加校外比赛。当耶鲁向哈佛发出挑战以“检验哪个学校的划手更有优势“的时候，所有这 一切都改变了，美国历史最悠久的大学校际体育比赛由此诞生了。哈佛-耶鲁赛艇比赛比耶鲁-哈佛橄榄球赛早了 23年，除了两次世界大战期间暂停外， 1852年举行了第一场赛事，并从1859年开始每年都举办，是北美地区唯一能够同牛津-剑桥赛事相抗衡的赛艇比赛。
On August 3，1852, in a two-mile race on the calm waters of Lake Winnipesaukee, Harvard and Yale battled like never before. Harvard won the inaugural race by about four boat lengths, earnings a pair of black walnut oars as its prize. It seems that people right away knew this was going to be the start of something big, for the trophy was awarded to Harvard by General Franklin Pierce, who would be elected the 14th President later that year. Today the 1852 trophy oars are the oldest intercollegiate athletic prize in North America.
1852年8月3日，在新罕布什尔温尼珀索基湖平静的水面上，哈佛和耶鲁进行了 一场前所未有的长达2英里的赛艇较量。哈佛以大约4个船长贏得了首场比赛，奖品是一副黑核桃桨，由富兰克林•皮尔斯将军颁发给哈佛，人们似乎立刻就意识到一项 重大比赛就由此拉开帷幕了。那年年底皮尔斯被选为美国第14任总统。今天这副 1852年的战利品成为北美地区最古老的大学校际体育比赛的奖品。
No further races were held between the schools until July 1855，when Yale issued another challenge. In a contest held on the Connecticut River in Springfield, Harvard made it two straight, winning by 1 minute and 38 seconds. Harvard and Yale met again in 1859 and 1860，but it wasn’t until 1864 that the Regatta became an annual event. Yale gained its first series win that year. Like The Game, The Regatta wasn’t held in 1896 because of a breakdown in relations between the two schools, but was soon renewed in 1897.
1852年之后哈佛和耶鲁再没有进行比赛，直到1855年7月耶鲁对哈佛发起了第二次挑战。比赛是在斯普林菲尔德的康涅狄格河上进 行的，哈佛以1分38秒之差取得了两连胜。哈佛和耶鲁1859年和1860年又进行了两次对 抗，但直到1864年赛艇比赛才成为一场年度 赛，耶鲁在那年第一次贏得了比赛。同橄榄球 赛一样，由于两校关系破裂，1896年赛艇赛 暂停了一年，但1897年很快就又恢复了比赛。
While the first race was held over 2 miles (3.2 km), this was extended to 3 miles (4.8 km) soon. Then in 1876，the series，first four-mile race was held and has since been raced over 4 miles (6.4 km). The Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race is the only longer side-by-side rowing event in the world, though slower stream makes the Yale-Harvard Race one to three minutes longer. Originally the race was just between the varsity crews but there are now 3 events on the day: the 2 mile (3.2 km) freshmen race，the 3 mile (4.8 km) junior varsity race and the 4 mile (6.4 km) varsity race. Even so, such division cannot shake the longstanding dominant position of Harvard. Currently Harvard leads the varsity series at 90-54，the junior varsity (JV) at 70-37，and the freshman series at 66-39-1.
虽然第一场比赛的赛程只有2英里（3.2千米），但不久赛程就被延长到了 3英里 (4.8千米）。1876年开始举赛程为4英里(6.4千米)的比赛，仅次于赛程位列世界第一 的牛津-剑桥赛艇赛。最初比赛只是在大学代表队之间进行，但现在在同一天要举行 三场比赛：2英里的新生比赛、3英里的后备队比赛和4英里的校代表队比赛。即便如 此，这样的划分还是不能动摇哈佛长久以来的统治地位。现在哈佛依然处于领先地位： 校代表队的比赛成绩是90胜54负，后备队的比赛成绩是70胜37负，而新生联赛的 成绩是66胜39负1平。