HARTFORD, Conn. – A committee investigating a disputed Harvard-Yale regatta last year has determined that nobody won the race and responded by codifying the first official rules for the oldest active collegiate sporting event in the United States.
The regatta committee has informed both schools that the trophy for the event will be engraved with the words “no official result.”
Yale was leading the 151st edition of the varsity heavyweight race in choppy conditions on the Thames River in Connecticut on June 12 when Harvard’s shell began taking on water and the Crimson crew had to be evacuated into launch boats.
Yale finished the race and celebrated victory over their archrivals, but was informed two hours later no winner would be declared because a referee put up a red flag when the incident occurred.
Yale coach Steve Gladstone appealed the result.
“The race was poorly officiated,” Gladstone said Thursday. “There is some precedent. In the other big 4-mile race, the Oxford-Cambridge race, the crew that crosses the finish line is the winner. If the other boat sinks, they sink.”
Yale was ahead by a boat length about one-half mile into the annual 4-mile rivalry race when a wave sent a large amount of water into the Harvard boat. Harvard coach Charlie Butt suggested a re-row, but conditions on the river made that impossible.
Stephen H. Brooks, chairman of the Harvard-Yale Regatta Committee, called the decision regrettable in a Jan. 24 memo to the two coaches. But Brooks said it was made after “much deliberation, research, and consultation with both of you, as well as with respected rules officials, historians, and others.”
Brooks said the committee also will soon release new, formal rules for the regatta designed to prevent future disputes.
“It has always been assumed that the rules that generally govern racing would apply,” said Gladstone. “But in fact, because they were not codified, because they were not specific, it went into the hands of the committee.”
Gladstone said he hasn’t read the new rules, but understands they are based on standard rules of rowing used in most international and national competitions.
The first Harvard-Yale race was held in 1852, and it became an annual event in 1864, more than a decade before the first Harvard-Yale football game. There have been a few breaks in the series, mostly because of events such as world wars. The regatta has been held on the Thames river since 1878. The schools attract some of the best rowers in the country, including athletes who compete in the Olympics.
Yale, which won the 2015 race, was looking for its first back-to-back victory since 1984. Prior to last year, Harvard had been dominant, winning seven in a row and 14 of 15. This year’s race is scheduled for June 10, weather permitting.
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