Experiments

Rowing Water-Skier

posted: 04/11/12
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As seen in "MythBusters: Breakstep Bridge"
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Finding: CONFIRMED

Explanation: If you're in the mood to water-ski but don't have the budget for a motorboat, could a rowboat provide adequate pulling power?

Folklorist Heather Joseph-Witham attributes this "row-skiing" myth to competitive rowers, like the Stanford University varsity rowing team, so the MythBusters recruited that team — and their exceptional arm muscles — to determine whether their sleek carbon fiber boats could sail fast enough to keep a water-skier aloft.

At top speed, competitive rowers can propel their boats at about 15 miles (24 kilometers) per hour. By the MythBusters' calculations, the rowers only needed to cut through the water at close to 10 miles (16 kilometers) per hour in order to pull 180-pound (82-kilogram) Jamie.

Although it took three runs for Jamie to find his ski legs, the rowers successfully boosted him out of the breakers and on top of the waves for a solid 40-second run. And with that, the Stanford team confirmed the water-skiing myth, as well as their impressive rowing prowess.

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