Towards determination of power loss at a rowing blade: Validation of a new method to estimate blade force characteristics

To analyze on-water rowing performance, a valid determination of the power loss due to the generation of propulsion is required. This power los can be calculated as the dot product of the net water force vector () and the time derivative of the position vector of the point at the blade where is applied (). In this article we presented a method that allows for accurate determination of both parameters using a closed system of three rotational equations of motion for three different locations at the oar. Additionally, the output of the method has been validated. An oar was instrumented with three pairs of strain gauges measuring local strain. Force was applied at different locations of the blade, while the oar was fixed at the oarlock and the end of the handle. Using a force transducer and kinematic registration, the force vector at the blade and the deflection of the oar were measured. These data were considered to be accurate and used to calibrate the measured strain for bending moments, the deflection of the oar and the angle of the blade relative to its unloaded position. Additionally, those data were used to validate the output values of the presented method plus the associated instantaneous power output. Good correspondence was found between the estimated perpendicular blade force and its reference (ICC = .999), while the parallel blade force could not be obtained (ICC = .000). The position of the PoA relative to the blade could be accurately obtained when the perpendicular force was ≥ 5.3 N (ICC = .927). Instantaneous power output values associated with the perpendicular force could be obtained with reasonable accuracy (ICC = .747). These results suggest that the power loss due to the perpendicular water force component can be accurately obtained, while an additional method is required to obtain the power losses due to the parallel force.