Short on drag factor

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The Independent Online
Q. Some years ago it became fashionable for the cox to lie in the bows of a coxed four, rather than sit in the stern. What is the advantage, and why is it not used in eights?

A. There are two factors to choosing a bow-coxed boat. First, the aim of a rowing boat is to travel through the water as quickly as possible, and a bow-coxed has two advantages over a stern-coxed boat. It is more aerodynamic than a stern-coxed boat, as there is one person less sitting up, but I am sure the calculations here would be minimal. The other advantage lies in the fact that a bow-coxed boat is considerably shorter than a stern-coxed boat, therefore creating less drag in the water.

Second, the ability of a crew is a vital factor when choosing which boat to use. From a coxswain's point of view, the less talented oarsmen will have to be watched far more closely than international standard rowers. With things like body angles, blade timing in and out of the water and blade heights all affecting the performance of a boat, it would be unrealistic for novice rowers to be coxed from the bow. Higher standard rowers would be less inclined to need such close scrutiny, enabling the coxswain to disappear beneath the canvas. This partly explains why so few eights are coxed from the bow. Even at international level, small problems with form and technique will be magnified when there are twice as many oarsmen as any other boat. - Noel Parris, Strood

Q. Anne Hayden played table tennis for England in the Fifties and as Ann Jones won Wimbledon in 1969. Has any sportsman or woman changed sports and had even greater success?

A. Simen Agdelstein (born 1967) played First Division football in Norway. He went on to become the world youngest chess grandmaster. Sir George Thomas (1881-1972) played hockey for Hampshire, tennis for England (he reached the last eight at Wimbledon) and was All England badminton champion from 1920-23. In the last of these years, he was also British chess champion. After that, he went on to represent Britain at seven chess Olympiads (1927- 39). C Wreford Bown in the 1900s was rated the best football centre-half of his day. He went on to play chess for England. Terry Marsh was a junior chess player: a London schools chess champion, he later became the IBF world light-welterweight boxing champion. - Mike Fox, Edgbaston


Q. The Dutch in recent years have stood out for the quality of their football, the number of brothers and indeed of twins in their national teams. How many brothers and how many twins have they capped. And has any other national team used twins? - David Fuller, Lancaster

Q. The proliferation of nose- plasters in Euro 96 prompts the question: who was the first player to wear one and when? And is there any scientific (or other) evidence as to their effectiveness? - Adrian Brodkin, London N2

Q. At school, I remember in the early Seventies playing a game called stoolball. Batters had to defend what looked like a square road sign, then run down the pitch in the direction of a bowler. Was this sport/game ever played at a more senior level? - Tim Mickleburgh, Grimsby

If you know the answers to any of these questions or have a question of your own, write to: Q & A, Sports Desk, Independent on Sunday, 1 Canada Square, London E14 5DL.

Fax: 0171-293 2894