two of these configurations are completely
new (Figure 2).
Configuration (b) is known as the ‘German’ rig and
(c) as the ‘Italian’ rig. Configuration (a) and (d) are
“These (together with their four
mirrors) give the four possible zero-
moment rigs for an Eight.” (p 7)
Barrow got involved in boat wiggle research due
to his interest in mathematics in relation to sport,
but Barrow is quick to add that he has never rowed
in his life. “I am part of an education project called
the Millennium Mathematics Project.” This project
is aimed at getting maths out to youth and the
Barrow is also part of the London 2012 Inspire
programme, exploring the mathematics of sport.
“Last December we became the official provider
of educational materials for mathematical aspects
in sport for the 2012 Olympics,” says Barrow, “so
we have been thinking of ways to use maths to
shed more light on sports and make teaching
mathematics more interesting.”
(c) The small mathematical field of finite integer
sequences fitted with Barrow’s findings. “The field has
curious connections in the real world,” says Barrow.
“There are lots of problems bound in sequences.”
(d) The response from the rowing community is
greater than Barrow expected. “I didn’t take it (the
study) too seriously,” says Barrow who wrote the
paper in his spare time as, he says, a hobby. “But
it’s surprising how serious people in rowing took
it.” Dr Valery Kleshnev has expanded on it in his
November 2009 Rowing Biomechanics Newsletter
and confirms Barrow’s results. Barrow has heard
from an American collegiate coach who is going
to try out the different rigs in some races. Number
theorist Jeffrey Shallit has commented and the New
Scientist is looking at publishing an article.
Author of 100 essential things you didn’t know you
didn’t know (2008), Barrow says if he had done this
research sooner this discovery would have been
included in the book. Now Barrow is motivated
to write a follow-up book using specifically sports
Barrow’s ideas continue to roll. He has already
contacted a millipede and centipede expert to
see how this wiggling applies to their movements.
He would like to see scale models of rowing boats
designed and tested in a tank to see how the boats
move with different rigging combinations. He
would also like to adapt the findings to canoeing.
Although Barrow does not expect to revolutionise
rowing in fours and eights, he is curious of the
consequence at the London Olympics.