A machine which promises to be of much practical benefit to Harvard rowing has recently been invented by Professor Hollis of the Engineering department. The machine registers autographically the amount of energy expended by an oarsman in the various parts of the stroke. The autographic reproduction on paper of the record of a stroke is by clearly defined lines obtained by electricity.
The idea of such an invention was suggested to Professor Hollis by an appliance which is used to test the action of steam engines. Still the knowledge which Professor Hollis has brought to bear in making his invention cannot be said to be exclusively theoretical, because his extensive experience in the navy of the United States has given him a thorough knowledge of the practical side of rowing.
The work of perfecting the apparatus is now almost completed and several promising tests have already been made. In these tests the testing machine has been attached to a common rowing machine which was marked by some man on the 'varsity crew. Some of the crew coaches and Manager Borden have witnessed the tests.
The machine which has been constructed, is now in the new Engineering building, but it has been seen by very few men. It was constructed by Professor Hollis, not only for its possible practical value to rowing interests but also for its scientific interest to the students in engineering.
The practical value of the experiments which it is hoped the machine will give must depend entirely upon the extent to which the knowledge gained by the experiments can be used in perfecting the stroke of the individual, and of the entire crew. It is not enough to discover by experiment where the stroke is least effective, although this may be of great value; the main point must be to find a remedy for the defect which has been discovered. It is hoped that the machine which Professor Hollis has invented will do both.
If the invention proves as useful as it seems reasonable to hope that it will be, it will perhaps completely revolutionize rowing methods. The testing machine will show by its automatic record what the individual faults of each member of a crew are. By doing this it will give inestimable help to the coaches. Under the present method the coaches have nothing but the eye to guide them in determining upon the strength or weakness of a stroke; the new invention, however, should give them valuable scientific information which would be of inestimable value in forming the stroke for a crew. By showing in what parts of the stroke the energy is expended with the least advantage the machine will suggest improvements which will remedy the defects. The machine will, above all, aid in finding out by scientific investigation how the ideal stroke can be attained. Oarsmen are all agreed that the ideal stroke is the one, which, with the least amount of energy expended, produces the greatest results; they are, however, divided in their opinions as to what this stroke is and how it can be achieved.