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# A Level Physics Coursework On Rowing

3775 words - 15 pages

Physics CourseworkPhysics of rowingPropulsionA boat accelerates through the action/reaction principle (Newton's third law). You move water one way with your oar; the boat moves the other way. The momentum (=mass*velocity) you put into the water will be equal and opposite to the momentum acquired by the boat.Consider a boat before and after a stroke.PIC 1Before the stroke, total momentum p = 0, since everything is at rest.After the stroke, total momentum: p = mbvb ¡V mwvw = 0 because the total momentum can't change (Newton's second law).During the normal stroke (i.e. with the boat already moving) it is less obvious that water is moved backwards in order to keep the boat moving forwards, since the blades appear to 'lock' in where they are placed, but if you look at the puddles when the blades are extracted it's clear that water is moved. There has to be some slippage in order to accelerate the boat, although, from energy considerations, this should be made as small as possible. So what about if you push off the bottom of the river, or a series of poles planted along the riverbank, rather than the water? Well, in that case the whole planet moves backwards instead, and some slippage still occurs.ResistanceBodies moving in liquid slow down due to resistive forces known as drag. This actually represents the transfer of momentum from the body to the fluid: the surrounding fluid speeds up as the body slows down, so total momentum still remains constant. For boats, there are various types of drag:"h Skin Drag, due to friction between the hull entraining water along with the hull"h Form Drag, due to turbulence created by the passage of the hull"h Wave Drag, due to energy lost in creating waves.Racing shells are unusual in that Skin Drag is the major source of resistance (about 80%). For most other craft Wave Drag dominates. Air also contributes to the total drag in similar ways (air is just another fluid). While the contribution from air is still only a few % of the water resistance, air velocity is much more variable, so the contribution can rise to 10s of % in strong head winds.Skin Drag is proportional to the square of the velocity, so assuming that the skin drag dominates, the total resistance R can be written asR = a.v"Where v" is the square of the velocity and a is some constant depending on the wetted surface area and the hull shape (i.e. remains the same for a given boat and crew).To maintain a constant velocity, the force applied must equal the resistance so there is no net acceleration or deceleration (Newton's first law). Hence the average power required (= force*velocity) isP = a.v"This means that to double the boat speed, you need to apply 2" = 8 times more power. Put another way, if you double the power, you only go (cube root of 2 =) 1.26 times as fast. This is why rowing firm pressure doesn't get you past a crew rowing light pressure as quickly as you'd hope.Centre of MassA rowing boat is not a solid body ¡V it contains 3...

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