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The hydrodynamics of rowing

Friday, January 22, 2021
3:00pm to 4:00pm
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The hydrodynamics of rowing
Jerry Westerweel, Professor, Delft University of Technology,

In order to improve the performance in rowing contests, we built a Ro(w)bot in which we can perform detailed measurements around a 1:2 scale model of an actual rowing blade that moves along a realistic path through water. The set-up allows us to measure both the forces and the impulsive flow by means of time-resolved PIV. We first investigated a more academic case of an accelerating rectangular plate along a straight path, which matches the first stroke at the start of a race. This showed that the forces during the acceleration phase are considerably higher than for steady motion. Also, it demonstrated that there is an optimal depth below the water surface that maximises the drag force. In the second phase of this study we considered the complete motion of an actual rowing blade. This revealed that the generated impulse is not aligned with the propulsive direction, indicating that the propulsion is suboptimal. A simple adjustment is proposed to optimise the alignment of the leading and trailing edge vortices that achieves an improved alignment of the generated impulse with respect to the motion of the boat.

Live Zoom Event: <https://caltech.zoom.us/j/84852988290>

Box Recordings for Caltech: <https://caltech.box.com/s/yscs22k3xqk05s9moxzay7sd8enw5qq4>

For more information, please contact Benjamin Riviere by email at briviere@caltech.edu.