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世紀40年代初，哈佛和耶魯就已經成立了賽艇俱樂部，但都很少參加校外比賽。當耶魯向哈佛發出挑戰以“檢驗哪個學校的劃手更有優勢“的時候，所有這 一切都改變了，美國歷史最悠久的大學校際體育比賽由此誕生了。哈佛-耶魯賽艇比賽比耶魯-哈佛橄欖球賽早了 23年，除了兩次世界大戰期間暫停外， 1852年舉行了第一場賽事，并從1859年開始每年都舉辦，是北美地區唯一能夠同牛津-劍橋賽事相抗衡的賽艇比賽。
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，在新罕布什爾溫尼珀索基湖平靜的水面上，哈佛和耶魯進行了 一場前所未有的長達2英里的賽艇較量。哈佛以大約4個船長贏得了首場比賽，獎品是一副黑核桃槳，由富蘭克林?皮爾斯將軍頒發給哈佛，人們似乎立刻就意識到一項 重大比賽就由此拉開帷幕了。那年年底皮爾斯被選為美國第14任總統。今天這副 1852年的戰利品成為北美地區最古老的大學校際體育比賽的獎品。
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年之后哈佛和耶魯再沒有進行比賽，直到1855年7月耶魯對哈佛發起了第二次挑戰。比賽是在斯普林菲爾德的康涅狄格河上進 行的，哈佛以1分38秒之差取得了兩連勝。哈佛和耶魯1859年和1860年又進行了兩次對 抗，但直到1864年賽艇比賽才成為一場年度 賽，耶魯在那年第一次贏得了比賽。同橄欖球 賽一樣，由于兩校關系破裂，1896年賽艇賽 暫停了一年，但1897年很快就又恢復了比賽。
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.
雖然第一場比賽的賽程只有2英里（3.2千米），但不久賽程就被延長到了 3英里 (4.8千米）。1876年開始舉賽程為4英里(6.4千米)的比賽，僅次于賽程位列世界第一 的牛津-劍橋賽艇賽。最初比賽只是在大學代表隊之間進行，但現在在同一天要舉行 三場比賽：2英里的新生比賽、3英里的后備隊比賽和4英里的校代表隊比賽。即便如 此，這樣的劃分還是不能動搖哈佛長久以來的統治地位。現在哈佛依然處于領先地位： 校代表隊的比賽成績是90勝54負，后備隊的比賽成績是70勝37負，而新生聯賽的 成績是66勝39負1平。