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Based on the design of a 8-oared racing scull, substitute recumbent bicycles with booster hand cranks for the rowing seats. Link all the pedal sets to a driveshaft running the length of the hull, terminating in a propeller.
Build the craft of titanium and carbon fibre plus other advanced materials
to give light weight and extreme strength.
Put eight big strong humans in the bicycles, and get them to pedal and crank as hard as they can. Repeated blows with a whip may be used to encourage performance. This can be done before, during, and after the race.
Race teams against one another.
The "rowers" should be capable of collectively delivering about a kilowatt in short bursts; and compared to oars, pedalling a propeller is far more efficient <link> - so the speeds should be much higher.
Screw propulsion beats paddles- conclusively [8th of 7, Apr 12 2017]
Even without "recumbent"
Propeller power is vastly superior to paddles. [Vernon, Apr 13 2017]
Not as streamlined...
...but offers more horsepower and greater disciplinary possibility. [whatrock, Apr 13 2017]
world's fastest pedal boat
[pashute, Apr 13 2017]
cardboard cup boat competition
[pashute, Apr 13 2017]
||Having seen a 2-person pedal-powered catamaran (and how fast it could go), I'm amazed that pedal-boat racing isn't already a Thing.
||//Having seen a 2-person pedal-powered catamaran (and how fast it could go)// That's all well and good, but wait until they try it on water.
||They go very fast in water.
||Unfortunately, it's straight down ...
||It was actually part of a "Cardboard Cup" boat race; the pontoons were made of cardboard, with the framework, pedals etc made from bits of bicycle. And it went remarkably well. On the water.
||My understanding that the rowers have something
to push against with their feet when they pull back
the oar. Having a single pedal to push on together
with mounted handles rather than the oar will
allow rowers to use their legs, core and arms all,
as is the case with rowing.
||The question: which provides more efficient thrust
- a large but slow moving interface (oar) or small
but very fast moving interface (propeller).
||I wonder if the Olympic sport has rules requiring
propulsion be via oars or if other approaches
translating human power would be allowed.
||It's been repeatedly proven that the screw propeller, properly sized to minimize cavitation and turbulence (optimum diameter/blade angle/rotation speed) is far more efficient than oars or paddle wheels.
||Probably there is a standardized boat, and affixing
various things to the bottom will violate the rules.
Although maybe not - maybe they will assume no-one
would do something like that because of increased