I thought you might find this article of interest. It was published in the NY Times, in 1922. I stumbled upon it while doing some research. I have forgotten the source. If anyone knows of it, please let me know so I can give credit where credit is due.
Novel Rowing Test Planned At Ithaca
Cornell Crew Coach to Experiment with Starboard and Port-Stroked Eights
ITHACA, N.Y., April 8, 1922— Which is the more effective type of rowing, starboard or port stroking? Coach John Hoyle thinks a good case can be made out for starboard pacemaking, despite the fact that most of the college crews today are paced by port oarsmen, and he hopes to settle the question by an actual test next Fall.
Seven out of eight men are right-handed, Coach Hoyle estimates, and this gives starboard men the greatest leverage on their strongest arms. This situation, he argues, gives the starboard side of a crew an advantage.
There is no special reason for port pace-makers except custom. In earlier days in English rowing starboard pacemakers were the usual type. But it happened that a left-handed oarsman of unusual ability and skill as a pacemaker came along. He was so good that a shell was re-rigged and seven other oarsmen selected to follow this port pace-maker.
A fast eight was developed that won its races easily. And credit was given to the port stroke. Many crews adopted the port stroking principle, says Hoyle, although at various times in England and later in this country starboard stroking was employed, notable at Pennsylvania. Hoyle, an experienced boat builder, has himself constructed starboard shells for the Quakers.
At Cornell the stroke oar has always been a port oarsman. Coach Courtney and Mr. Hoyle, then his assistant, debated the point frequently, but the former saw no reason to change while his crews were meeting with continuous successes.
The suggestion has been made to Coach Hoyle by a former Cornell rowing star that he pit two evenly matched crews against each other, one using the customary beat, the other the starboard stroke. Coach Hoyle thinks well of the idea and hopes to try it when fall rowing practices begins.
And almost 90 years later we are still debating this issue.
Have a thought? Starboard or port a better stroke? Give me your thoughts below.