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Thread: Physics of paddling vs. rowing

  1. #36
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Fairfield, CA

    Default Re: Physics of paddling vs. rowing

    Quote Originally Posted by kerosene View Post
    I know this is ancient thread but I cannot resist to suggest counter point to some statements made here.

    A human can create much more than 1/10th of a horsepower - even long periods of time - but this depends of course on the fitness and size of a human - no surprise Olympic rowers are tall big lads.
    1 hp is 745 W. 2 years ago I trained a bit more with an indoor rower and my best 10k (training, not an all out) time I averaged 210 watts for hair under 40 minutes. And that is hardly anything special.
    100km (62 miles) indoor row world record is 6 h 6 min and that is at 264 Watts or 0.36 horsepower for 6 hours (!). In sprint the 500m world record set this year had average power of 999W ie. 1.3+ horsepower for 1 minutes and 10.5 seconds.

    These top guy results are pretty insane but 0.2hp ~150w is not world class stuff.

    another anecdote from indoor rowing.

    My best 1000m I did after 3-4 months of not serious training from a beginner with the machine 3:19.2 (2016-03-11)
    My best 2000m I did 2 years later, not very coordinated training effort but much better fitness and technique at 6:58.9 (2018-02-09)

    The latter is by far better result despite being a fair bit slower. => human power output on a 3 minute and a 6 minute events are in no way comparable.
    Thanks for stirring up an interesting thread I had not noticed. We need to copy bicycles and put power meters on a set of oars.

    I have one data set made by measuring speed and electrical consumed power for my cruising rowboat (bigger and slower than Angus'), powered either by my rowing or by a small electric outboard. My racing rowing pace is equivalent to around 220 W on the motor, my all day cruising pace is equivalent to 100 - 120 W on the motor. This is the graph:

    It's clear that doubling the power at the top end by adding full motor to race rowing only gets an extra knot, hull speed becomes the hard limit.

  2. #37
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Denver CO, USA

    Default Re: Physics of paddling vs. rowing

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian McColgin View Post
    I did not know that any human in any configuration could put out a half a horsepower. But whatever . . .

    Rowing is more powerful, whether sliding seat or work boat style. Ever try to paddle a couple tons of fish to market? That's what the full-body power of the dory stroke recently illustrated in WB is all about.

    Working a double paddle uses all the muscles from the buttocks up for propulsion but the legs are used for bracing only, while in rowing sliding or fixed seat all muscles can come into play together or in rotation.

    This is not to underrate the joys of kayaking. Especially at this time of year. When I get out in these little snow squalls even though I'm in bright yellow goretex dry suit with insulating foam and a nice modern boat, I am in my imagination Nanook sneaking up on a walrus or one of those commandos paddling up a fjiord to disturb the Nazis or whatever. Each sort of boat has its purpose.
    Not sure about paddling or rowing but pro cyclist can put out that kind of horsepower.

    From Wikipedia.... During a bicycle race, an elite cyclist can produce close to 400 watts of mechanical power over an hour and in short bursts over double that 1000 to 1100 watts; modern racing bicycles have greater than 95% mechanical efficiency. An adult of good fitness is more likely to average between 50 and 150 watts for an hour of vigorous exercise. Over an 8-hour work shift, an average, healthy, well-fed and motivated manual laborer may sustain an output of around 75 watts of power.[2]

    400 watts = 0.53619hp



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