World PoohSticks Championships
How do you win Poohsticks?

How do you win Poohsticks?

Dr Rhys Morgan; image from Royal Academy of Engineering
Dr Rhys Morgan; image from Royal Academy of Engineering

How to win at Pooh Sticks? Isn’t it just a game of luck or is there any skill in playing the game? This age old question may have been answered once and for all.

Dr Rhys Morgan, from the Royal Academy of Engineering, has created a formula that helps to increase your chances of winning the classic game of Pooh Sticks.

According to Dr Rhys Morgan the formula for the Perfect Pooh Stick (PP) is:

PP (Perfect Poohstick) = A x I x Cd

A = Cross Sectional Area. The bigger the area the more drag. Drag is a good thing in Pooh Sticks. Think tubby.

I = Density. You want a stick heavy enough to sink just under the surface of the water, where it will be unaffected by wind and other external variables.

Cd = Drag coefficient. This is the shape of stick and roughness of its surface. Ideally you want a rough stick like bark, which creates more drag than a smooth one.

Another way to think of it would be “Tubby and long, fairly heavy (but not so heavy it will sink to the bottom of the river), with quite a lot of bark to catch the flow of the river like paddles”.

Competitors have always asked us about the secret to winning the Poohsticks Championships and now that there appears to be a formula for doing so, we can all put it to the test. Might there be other factors that can affect the formula? Does dropping the stick vertically or horizontally make a difference? Would the curvature of the bridge affect the stick before it reaches the water? These are questions that we are all eager to answer.

Visit England has compiled a list of the top places around the country to play the classic pastime. The Rotary Club of Abingdon is delighted that the bridge at Little Wittenham where the Championships started over 30 years ago is recognised as being one of the UK’s best bridges for playing Pooh Sticks. We hope that the bridge at Sandford Lock, where the World Championships are now held will soon join the list.

Do you think that this formula is accurate? Or do you still believe that Pooh Sticks is a game of luck? Why not test this idea out at your local river or better yet, at the next World Pooh Sticks Championships at Sandford Lock, in May 2023?