Perfect Poohsticks

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Which is the best for playing Poohstticks?

Which is the best for playing Poohstticks?

You might have read that an engineer has concentrated his mind and has suggested a formula for playing Poohsticks.

Obviously designed to garner publicity as it comes at the same time as a new book called Poohstickopedia (such a ghastly name) is launched, I am not an engineer but I find flaws in the formula.

It was of course, A. A. Milne who invented the idea and launched it is his books in the 1930’s. Clutching a stick or twig, players drop their stick over the edge of a bridge into a flowing stream or river and rush to the other side of the bridge. The winner of the first stick to clear the bridge and appear the other side wins.

The learned engineer, Dr Rhys Morgan, claims that the formula for winning is PP = A x I x Cd where PP is Perfect Poohstick, A is cross sectional area, I is density of the stick and Cd is the drag coefficient.

I’ll leave you to follow the scientific bit but it seems to me that it fails to take into account how you hold the stick above the flowing waters. Do all competitors drop it at the same time? Do you extend your arm? Does the length of the stick matter? And what of the bridge? Is it cheating to note how the water flows through the arches or should you only use single arched bridges? How high should the bridge be above the water? Should you allow for wind assisted falls? And is there a preferred river or bridge to use? I think Dr Morgan needs to re-think his formula.

Visit England came out with some places just in England where you could try your luck but what of our other nations. Their top suggestion was Sheepwash Bridge in Ashford-in-the-Water in the Derbyshire Peak District. We used to cheat in Leatherhead where two close-by bridges cross the River Mole. You launch the Poohstick at Bridge Street and then head along the river bank to the bridge by the waterworks building for the result. Some Poohsticks could get snagged on the journey, some would get caught in eddies and, if perfectly pitched, some would snare the fastest moving current. You could even extend the race by letting it continue to the next bridge which carries the railway line and is actually two bridges, one built over the other.

I think Dr Morgan needs to re-think his formula. It is more complicated than he thinks!


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