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EXPERTS TO EXPLORE 'BIG-BLADE THEORY' AND OTHER ROWING PHYSICS ISSUES

EXPERTS TO EXPLORE 'BIG-BLADE THEORY' AND OTHER ROWING PHYSICS ISSUES
 SEATTLE, Dec. 4 /PRNewswire/ -- The following was released today by the University of Washington News and Information Services:
 In sports orthodoxy, the bigger-rower-is-better philosophy has carried the day.
 The physics tell a different story, said Ken Young, a University of Washington physics professor. Young will speak during a series of talks on rowing physics Friday, part of the U.S. Rowing Association's national convention. The meeting, expected to draw more than 1,000, runs Thursday through Saturday at the Seattle Convention Center.
 "When a small rower wins, people consider it unusual," said Young, who teaches a course on the physics of sports. "But in races where the boats are the right size for the rower, lightweight (160 pounds or lighter) speeds and heavyweight (over 160) speeds are the same." Simply put, the bigger and stronger the rower, the more powerful the stroke. The smaller the rower, the less powerful -- but less power is required to propel the lighter boat and rower. "When you apply the scaling laws of physics, it balances out," said Young, a lightweight who has been rowing for three years.
 Another debate rages about rowing technique, Young said. "There's the Pocock style, named for racing-shell makers of Seattle. It's considered old-fashioned next to the West German style, favored by coaches. The differences are subtle; you can notice if you watch closely."
 He said he has measured each stroke style by strapping an accelerometer to a racing shell and found that the Pocock could actually generate higher speeds than the West German.
 Equipment can be as important as the rower -- giving rise to such notions as "big-blade theory." Many people believes than oars work like paddle wheels, producing thrust using drag forces. "In truth," Young said, "the oar works like an airplane wing -- operating through lift forces." A big wing/blade creates greater lift than a small wing/blade, translating to greater speed. But a big blade, like the big rower, offers more resistance. The challenge to oar designers: fashion blades after glider wings -- long and skinny -- for optimum lift and minimal drag.
 "Of course, there's a compromise," Young noted. "You still have to be able to get these blades in and out of the water."
 -0- 12/4/91
 /CONTACT: Ken Young, 206-543-4186, or Bill Cannon, 206-543-2580, both of the University of Washington/ CO: University of Washington ST: Washington IN: SU:


JH-LM -- SE008 -- 9254 12/04/91 13:43 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Dec 4, 1991
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