Thursday, July 5, 2012

Submarine Races

We sailors rightfully take pride and inspiration from the fact that we navigate our craft using only nature - the wind and our own physical efforts - and we routinely disdain stinkpots and other forms of practical locomotion (except of course when we need them, but let's not quibble).

But, even our noble sport might be disdained by another set of sportsmen who use only their own muscle power to race a water craft - I refer to human-powered submarine races.  Maybe this sport is not quite as developed as ours, but don't tell that to the engineering students who compete every year. 

The rules are simple - "teams must design, build and race flooded submarines piloted by one or two scuba divers, who must be fully enclosed within the hull of the machine. All propulsion power must be provided by the diver during the race (i.e. no energy storage devices such as flywheels or batteries are allowed), but otherwise the design rules are open to whatever innovation teams decide to use." 

I guess David Bushnell and his fellow Turtle crew members could claim bragging rights as having competed in combat conditions without scuba equipment.

Long dominated by the Americans who have held the International Submarine Races since 1989,  the first European championship event was recently held at Gosport where a Canadian team from École de Technologie Supérieure streaked to a world record in their submarine Omer 8 over a 13 meter section of the course where they were clocked at 7.03 knots. (I assume we can rely on this report, although it does not say whether the official timer was Rolex, IWC Schafhaussen or other). 

You can see a ten year history of the ISR Championships with some videos of the submarines streaking along, albeit not quite as fast as the above mentioned current world record. 

And for you lucky US readers, please reserve your calendars for June 24-28, 2013 when the ISR championships will be held once again in Bethseda, Maryland.

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