so far as the actual conditions of the contest are concerned. The modern racing outrigger requires a sharp impulse, because it will take almost any speed we can apply to it. It will also retain that speed between the strokes, a consideration of great importance. The old-fashioned racing-eights required to be continually under propulsion. The lightning-feather was a necessity in their case, for between every stroke the boat would lag terribly with a slow-feathering crew. I do not say, of course, that the speed of a light outrigged craft does not diminish between the strokes. Anyone who has watched a closely contested bumping-race, and noticed the way in which the sharply cut bow of the pursuing boat draws up to the rudder of the other as by a succession of impulses, although either boat seen alone would seem to sweep on with almost uniform speed, will know that the motion of273 the lightest boat is not strictly uniform. But there is an immense difference between the almost imperceptible loss of way of a modern eight and the dead ‘lag’ in the old-fashioned craft. And hence we get the following important consideration. Whereas with the old boats it was useless for a crew to attempt to give a very quick motion to their boat by a sharp, sudden ‘lift,’ this plan is calculated to be, of all others, the most effective with the modern racing-eight.
It may seem, at first sight, that, after all, the result of the Cambridge style should be as effective as that of the other. If arms and shoulders do their work in both crews with equal energy—which we may assume to be the case—and if the number of strokes per minute is equal, the actual propulsive energy ought to be equal likewise. A little consideration will show that this is a fallacy. If two men pull at a weight together they will move it farther with a given expenditure of energy than if first one and then the other apply his strength to the work. And what is more to the purpose, they will be able to move it faster. So shoulders and arms working simultaneously will give a greater propulsive power than when working separately, even though in the latter case each works with its fullest energy. And not only so, but by the simultaneous use of arms and shoulders, that sharpness of motion can alone be given which is essential to the propulsion of a modern racing-boat.
I have said that the two crews are severally274 rowing in the style which has lately been peculiar to their respective Universities. But the Cambridge crew is rowing in that form of the Cambridge style which brings it nearest to the requirements of modern racing. The faults of the style are subdued, so to speak, and its best qualities brought out effectively. In one or two of the long series of defeats lately sustained by Cambridge the reverse has been the case. At present, too, there is a certain roughness about the Oxford crew which encourages the hopes of the light blue supporters. But it must be admitted that this roughness is rather apparent than real, great as it seems, and it will doubtless disappear before the day of encounter. I venture to predict that the ‘time’ of the approaching race, taken in conjunction with the state of the tide, will show the present crews to be at least equal to the average.