World Record for Skipping Stones

Stones on the Eel RiverThe new champion with the world record for skipping stones found his rock near Lake Erie. But there are 1000s & 1000s of, I swear, perfect skipping stones in the delta bed of California’s Eel River.

I’m astounded. I would never have imagined anything like it. Every footstep reveals a handful of granite Frisbee. There can’t be another factory like it anywhere. I’m stunned there isn’t a local championship event each year.

Others are stunned this summer when Guinness recently certified a Stone Skipping World Record of 51 skips by Russel Byars that has eclipsed 40 in 2002 and 38 in 1992. Most amateurs can ‘smut’, as skips are known, between 10 or 20.

Guinness experts analyzed film of his record-breaking effort frame by frame, checking the concentric circles left in the water by each hop — or, as stone skippers say, by the plinks and pitty-pats.

Skipping stonesThe aerodynamic and gyrodynamic features of spinning flight have only recently been studied in wind tunnels.

Research shows a skipped stone requires a speed of 12 m/s (25 mph) with a rotation of 14 revolutions per second which must be set strictly at an angle of 20 degrees.

In some parts of the world, skipping stones is an important activity. Pennsylvania has appointed a High Commissioner of Stone-Skipping to oversee Skipping and Gerplunking festivals. An effort known as the North American Stone Skipping Association started in 1989 to organize global champions. I shouldn’t be surprised to find “100% Guaranteed Professional Skipping Stones” for sale.

Fighting the Armada, perhaps British sailors scornfully ‘smut’ Spanish coins away, known as Drakes, or they may have used stones to plink male ducks, known as drakes, because scholars found that an old game of skipping stones across the water was known as Ducks and Drakes and is mentioned as early as 1585,

“A kind of sport or play with an oister shell or stone throwne into the water, and making circles yer it sinke, etc. It is called a ducke and a drake, and a halfe-penie cake.”

Mother Goose composed a rhyme to Ducks and Drakes:

A duck and a drake,
And a halfpenny cake,
With a penny to pay the old baker.
A hop and a scotch
Is another notch,
Slitherum, slatherum, take her.