An experimental study of unsteady hydrodynamics of a single scull

Alexander Day, Ian Campbell, David Clelland, Jakub Cichowicz

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The effect of hull dynamics on the hydrodynamic performance of a single scull is
investigated via a combination of field trials and tank tests. The location of laminar-turbulent transition in unsteady flow is explored via several series of hot-film measurements on the bow of a full-scale single scull in unsteady flow in both towing tank and field-trial conditions. Results demonstrate that the measured real-world viscous-flow behaviour can be successfully reproduced in the tank using an oscillating sub-carriage to reproduce the surging motion measured in the field trials. It can be seen that there is a strong link between turbulence and acceleration; results show that the link is relatively insensitive to mean velocity, but that small changes in acceleration time-histories can have a marked effect, as can the presence of small waves. The impact of the location of laminar turbulent transition is investigated by way of a series of resistance tests, both with free transition and with transition forced by turbulence stimulation at two different locations. Results indicate that an aft movement of 200mm of the location of transition can reduce resistance by almost 0.5 per cent. Unsteady tests using the oscillating sub-carriage indicate that unsteady effects add around 3 per cent to the total mean resistance with free transition.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)282-294
Number of pages13
JournalProceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part M: Journal of Engineering for the Maritime Environment
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2011


  • hydrodynamics
  • rowing
  • hull resistance,
  • boundary-layer transition
  • tank tests
  • field trials
  • unsteady speed


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