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“The Moriarty Effect”

Updated: Oct 11, 2023

Stan Pocock Way Enough p. 162-165

I couldn't go along with that style.[pause in the bow, rush up, snatch and grab] …For one, I wanted my crews to initiate the movement of their heads and shoulders out of bow “on the oar” using the last bit of oar pressure against the water to do so, rather than to pull themselves out with their feet – Stan refers to this as “The Moriarty Effect” According to Guy Harper, the Moriarty effect simply involves a very quick hand motion…in the Sherlock Holmes cliff fighting scene…” Lightning-fast clutches for a deadly grip, a fight for a good position towards the abyss, getting free from the grips…”

For another, I didn’t want them to be sitting in the bow as the boat slowed and the bow dipped. Rather I wanted everyone out of there while the bow was still up.

…One squawk immediately heard – and I can almost hear my dad’s voice echoing from the grave – is from those who insist one must never pull his weight out of bow with his feet.

One memorable Saturday morning, Dad was in the launch while I was rowing. Predictably – with Dad there -Ulbrickson hollered, “Feet Out!” (feet on top of the stretcher leathers)

I was in immediate trouble, having failed to adjust my stretcher so that my seat could touch the bow stops at the end of the drive. On every stroke, the seat would keep going and my feet would lose contact with the stretcher, putting me in mortal danger of toppling over into the bow man’s lap.

Fortunately for me, the old boats had a brace which came across the boat right over one’s stretcher boots.

Designed to distribute stresses, it had no other purpose. In my present predicament, I soon discovered one. At the end of each stroke, I hooked the toes of one foot under the brace.

Afterward Ulbrickson had made the comment that I seemed to be the only one in the boat handling the drill. Right. Me, the crossbar and my big toe.

My heretical departure from the norm changed litte as far as the technique of the release was concerned…. The trick was to press down on the rubbing strip (the rounded bar at the aft end of the tracks) with the calves as one went around the corner with the head, hands and shoulders. With those well into the recovery, a quick lift of the knees brought one out to full reach in no time – poised and ready for the next stroke.

Frank Cunningham demonstrating quick out of bow —and later in the video, watch how little the bow of the boat dips with each stroke. Harvard, stroked by Frank Cunningham, was the fastest crew in the country that year (1947) As the years went by, we had the opportunity to become well acquainted and, ultimately the best of friends.– Stan Pocock p. 27


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