On the dynamics of men and boats and oars

  • Pope D
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The complex dynamic system of boat, oars, and men that comprises a racing shell is considered in the context of classical dynamic and hydrodynamic principles. A description of the equipment and technique of competitive crew racing is followed by a detailed development of an appropriate mathematical model to describe the interaction of the system components. An approximate solution for the non-linear system of equations of the model is then obtained. Expressions for average force and power during a stroke are given and related to the parameters of the motion. An example illustrates velocity variations of +-20% during the rowing cycle of stroke and run. It is shown that the minimum velocity occurs midway through the stroke. The effects of the geometry of the rig are discussed, as is the relative effectiveness of the stroke at catch and recovery. Finally, an unorthodox rowing style is examined and found to be both impractical and ineffective.




Pope, D. L. (1973). On the dynamics of men and boats and oars. Mechanics and Sport, 113–130.

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