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Scientist reveals his secret for a perfect Poohstick

Playing Pooh Sticks at Langel Common

Winning formula: Participants in this year's Poohstick Championships, back, left to right, Debs Axtell,
Hollie Wise and Naomi Barnes. Front: Deb Hoffmann (Winnie the Pooh collector) and Pippa Wheeler

THIS year's Poohstick World Championships in Oxfordshire has inspired a leading scientist to study the secrets of winning the game made famous by the AA Milne classic.

In the contest, competitors drop sticks into a river upstream of a bridge and see which is fastest to reach downstream the other side.

New academic research from Dr Rhys Morgan, director of engineering and education at the Royal Academy of Engineering in London, has revealed the secret to finding the perfect Poohstick.

And he is now looking forward to demonstrating his winning formula at next year's World Championships, now held over the River Windrush in Langel Meadow in Witney after it moved last year from Little Wittenham.

Dr Morgan said: "It's a game that I have played since I was a child, so when I was asked to come up with a formula for Poohsticks I jumped at the chance.'' Dr Morgan was asked to undertake the research by publishers Egmont Publishing, which recently released The Poohsticks Handbook: A Poohstickopedia.

Researchers surveyed 2,000 players for Dr Morgan's study, and found 41 per cent had personalised their sticks to make sure there was no doubt who had won.

Father-of-two Dr Morgan, an avid Poohstick player, claimed when choosing their stick, players should consider variables including cross sectional area, density, and the drag co-efficient.

According to the study, the optimum Poohstick should be tubby, long, but not so heavy that it sinks.

It should also have a reasonable amount of bark to allow the stick to catch the flow of the river.

The Rotary Club of Oxford Spires are the organisers of the event. Karen Eveleigh, the club's president, said: "We always knew it would only be a matter of time before an academic undertook a study into finding the perfect Poohstick as visitors are always asking us 'what is the secret to winning?'."