11th International Submarine Race, ISR 11 Links

Following are links to the International Submarine Race web site and Facebook pages: http://isrsubrace.org and http://www.facebook.com/InternationalSubmarineRaces.ISR11. The Facebook pages have hundreds of photos and many videos and links to news articles. If you visit it please be sure to “like” the pages. I’ll be adding a list of links to the team sites shortly.

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The 11th International Submarine Races – ISR11

I recently had the opportunity to participate in the 11th International Submarine Races, ISR 11, in Bethesda, Maryland. The difference this time was that I was there as a judge and not a contestant. It gave me a whole new perspective on the race and the goings on and the amount of work that goes into putting this race on.

As a contestant, all I was worried about was getting my boat in the water , making and hopefully completing a run and getting back in the que. Most other teams were concerned about speed but I just wanted to make it down the course. I thought that it was a distraction to have to do that wet and dry safety check, that presentation before the judges and of course that thing about proving that I could dive. Just let me in the tank so that I could pedal my heart out, well not me actually, my son Martin. I just design the contraption, I ‘m not getting into the thing. 🙂

Anyway, things looked way different from my new point of view as a judge. Here in front of us were 24 teams, 28 submarines and a couple of hundred divers. The subs ranged from tried and true to unfinished and untested. The divers also had experience levels of “inks not dry” on their c-card to superbly skilled divers, and everything in between. Everyone was anxious to race and it was up to the race staff, volunteers and our Navy support divers to make sure that everything went smoothly and SAFELY. Notice the importance safety gets, how about number one priority.

That wet and dry safety check. This is done to be sure that all of your safety devices are in place and in working order. Why? Because if something goes wrong those Navy divers will know about it and be on you so fast you won’t have time to worry about it. Some of you cannot look upward from your position in your sub, but about 15 feet above you is a boat with Navy divers following you and watching your progress. Their job is to be sure that you are safe the whole time that you are underwater and they take this very seriously.

The presentation before the judges. We actually had a couple of people tell us that it was nowhere as bad as they expected. What were they expecting, the Spanish inquisition? I don’t know. We just want to have the teams tell us about their subs and how all came about. BTW I didn’t like going into that room either when I was competing, way too air conditioned and dark.

That thing about can I dive. It all comes down to safety. Everything defaults in the direction of safety. I know that it feels lousy to be prevented from diving by the dive super. Believe me, it’s not that he doesn’t like you. He has the responsibility for making sure that all the divers are qualified and physically ready to dive. He doesn’t enjoy telling you that because you have asthma, heart issues or whatever, even if it is under control, that you can’t dive. He will do the same to volunteers, judges or anyone else going into the water. At the 6th ISR my son, the only other person on my team was prevented from diving. Deal with it and move on.

It makes everything go smoother if everyone gets their papers, forms, visa requests etc. submitted on time. Remember, we are dealing with a lot of teams and sometimes things take longer than you’d expect.

Get your boat finished and get some water time before you get to the race. I am as guilty of not doing this as anyone. Bogus Batoid, my last sub, was put into a swimming pool for the first time about six hours before we left for ISR 9. I wanted to be sure that it moved when it flapped its fins, moved forward that is. how embarrassing would it be to leave the starting line and move backwards? Speed -1.5 knots? Take it from me that it is more fun sitting on the beach waiting to be called for a run than being outside trying to finish your boat.

Overall, I was really impressed with how smoothly everything went and  would like to thank and congratulate all whose efforts went into making the 11th International Submarine Race a success. I would especially like to congratulate all of the teams for their efforts in getting their boats into the race, it will be something that you’ll always remember, even when you are like 58 years old like me. (Probably older than most of your parents) BTW my fins are from 1970 and still work fine.

This all having been said, I hope to see all of your teams at ISR12 in 2013.


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New Wet-sub Design

Although I’ve had to withdraw from the human powered sub race this year I have been working on a couple of powered wet sub design concepts for Deep/Quest2 Expeditions, a Canadian underwater exploration and film documentary company led by Dr. Kenn Feigelman. They have a great web site that goes into depth, no pun intended, on their past, current and future projects. Check them out at http://deepquest2expeditions.com/.

Originally we were going motorize and use Faux Fish and Bogus Batoid in one of their documentaries not only as props but as camera carrying subs. After reviewing what they needed versus what we could actually do with Faux Fish and Bogus Batoid Kenn asked me if I would be interested in designing and building a powered wet sub specifically for their underwater filming applications. How could I say no? The specifications for the sub are still evolving as we explore different sub concepts. Stay tuned because when we finally settle on a design I will be documenting the whole construction and testing process.

I will be showing the sub concepts here as I get them drawn up. Here is the first.





I am currently using Alibre Cad software for the design and it seems to be working out fine. I bought this program a few years ago and this is the first big project that I am using it for. I use Autocad Inventor at my real job so picking up Alibre was pretty easy. There were a few things that I had issue with but for the time being I will blame it on my inexperience with the software. I’ll do software updates as I progress on this project.

The first real challenge was to model the 3d manikins to put in the sub to verify size requirements. The manikins are representative of 95th percentile males wearing twin 80 aluminum tanks. We will still make some physical mock ups that we will put underwater with actual divers to verify final measurements before beginning construction.

Also, Alibre has recently partnered with a conpany that makes a great photo rendering software called Hypershot that I just downloaded. I can’t wait to try it out.

More to follow.

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Bogus Batoid Drive, Operation Video Coming Soon

I just started putting together a video showing the drive mechanism operation for Bogus Batoid. I should have it posted within a week or so.

Upon first glance the drive mechanism looks much more complex than would be needed but here is what I was trying to accomplish. I had to be able to flap two large wings while alternating the angle of attack of the leading edge of the wings, into the direction of travel from a seated position, underwater. The drive had to be pedal powered from a recumbant position. It had to have a variable drive ratio since I didn’t know how much force the wings would actually require to move up and down and by changing the drive ratio I could accommodate a large range of force requirements. It had to have a method to adjust the amplitude of the wing. And finally, it had to have a method to control the angle of attack of the leading edge of the wings.

There wasn’t a whole lot of information available about this sort of drive and due to time constraints I wouldn’t be able to make major changes in time for the race so I had to design in as many adjustments as I could up front. As it was, Bogus Batoid only had a few minutes in the water before we left for the race, and this was in an inflatable swimming pool in our back yard. So inspite of not being able to tune the drive at all it still made it down the course. 

So check back in a week or two to see how it was done.

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90 Days Until the 10th International Submarine Race

Well, it’s down to 90 days until the 10th International Submarine Race starts. I’m sure that all of the teams are pretty excited by now. Some have already started their in-water testing and some still have a long way to go. But one thing is for sure, they are all having fun.

I wish that I could say the same for Mock Medusa and I. I regret to say that I have had to withdraw from the race this year. The economy won this round and at this time I just can’t justify the expense of building a sub for the race.  I will be following the race as best I can and maybe see if I can even come out to watch the race for a day or two.

Anyway, I would like to offer my best wishes to all of the teams that will be attending and I expect to see some new world records. Be sure to follow the latest info on the race at: http://isrsubrace.org/main.cfm?r1=3.00&ID=21&level=1

I will see you all at the 11th ISR in 2011.


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122 Days Until the 10th International Submarine Races

Well the time is really flying now. It’s down to only 122 days.  I’m sure some of the teams have completed their subs already and are in the final testing and optimizing stages, but some… well they are still trying to get their acts together, what will we build, how will we build, who will pedal etc. etc. and all having a great time at whatever stage of construction they are at. The veteran teams know exactly what they have to do and what to expect at the race. The newbies have surely reviewed whatever information that they could collect about what really goes on at the race but it doen’t begin to touch the actual experience. I think that the biggest part of the race is the comradere and how well everyone gets along. If you need help with something, a tool or a support diver all you have to do is ask. Yes, it is a competition and everyone wants to be the fastest but it is above all a learning experience for everyone from the youngest to those of us whose fins are older than most of the contestants.

The organizing group, the many volunteers, the U.S.  Navy for hosting the event and the Navy support divers all do a fantastic job.

Here is a copy of the press release that lists the teams and gives some information about the race.



For Immediate Release Media Contact: John Hussey, ISR:

843-278-1474 (home)

843-209-8140 (cell)




Record Number of Subs Expected in Human-Powered

Engineering Design Competition…

CARDEROCK, MD. Dec. 16, 2008 — The 20th Anniversary running of the International Submarine Races™, the world’s only engineering design competition for human-powered underwater vehicles, will be held June 22-26, 2009, at the U. S. Naval Surface Warfare Center’s Carderock test tank facility in Bethesda, MD.

This will be the 10th in a series of biennial races that test the creative skills of young engineering students from colleges, universities and technical and high schools from throughout the world. Teams wearing scuba gear compete in one- and two-person “wet” submarines designed to run submerged along a 100-meter measured course in Carderock’s model basin.

The 8.035 knot speed mark, set in 2007 by the OMER 5 submarine from the Ecole de Technologie Superieure, Montreal, Canada, will be difficult to beat, according to ISR Head Judge Claude Brancart. It is a speed most human-powered submarine enthusiasts previously deemed unachievable. Speeds have steadily improved over the 20-year history of the ISR.

ISR officials said 2009 will feature a record number of entries. By early December, 30 teams had indicated their plans to participate in the competition. Two more were expected. The teams are:

University of California San Diego

Sussex County NJ Technical School

University of British Columbia, Canada

Wheaton MD Submarine Works

University of Houston

Millersville University, PA

University of Florida

Virginia Tech

Scuba Sub Team, MD

University of Maryland

University of Michigan

Texas A&M

University of Maine

Universidad Veracruzana, Mexico

Ecole de Technologie Superieure, Quebec, Canada Hernando City Schools, FL

Ecole Polytechnique de Montreal, Canada

Faux Fish Technologies, IL

University of Washington

Western Washington University

Everett WA Community College

Universidad Simon Bolivar, Venezuela

U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, NY

Florida Atlantic University

(Note: some schools are fielding more than one team.)

Page 2

International Submarine Races

As part of the observance of the ISR’s 20th anniversary, plans include a display of previous winning OMER submarines, Bruce Plazyk’s exotic designs from past races, and a full-scale replica of the Revolutionary War submarine, the Turtle.

“The purpose of the sub races is to provide an educational opportunity for aspiring young engineers,” said Nancy Hussey, ISR Executive Director. “Their participation in the design, construction, and operation of a human-powered submarine offers real-time application of theoretical knowledge, hands-on creativity, problem solving and teamwork skill opportunities. The subrace engineering design competition is an investment in the future of our young people, not only to help them compete in the global technology economy, but to provide a better trained and experienced resource pool of bright and industrious students to help the defense industry and the government fill future national needs. The ISR experience increases their value to potential employers. Studies show that students who can put their classroom skills to practical use fare far better in the post-college job market.”

The Platinum 10th ISR sponsors are the USN Naval Sea Systems Command, NSWC, the Electric Boat Corporation and the Oceanic Engineering Society of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). Many Gold and Silver sponsors contribute as well. This will be the seventh time that the ISR will be staged at the 3200-foot-long David Taylor Model Basin at NSWC. The submarine races began in Florida in 1989 in the open ocean and have grown to see the participation of teams from the United States, Canada, Mexico and Europe.

The 10th ISR Contestant Manual is available at the ISR website, www.isrsubrace.org. All contestant inquiries about the race should be addressed to Claude Brancart, ISR Contestant Liaison and Head Judge, at (207) 729-7873 or by email at c.brancart@ieee.org.

Organizations or individuals interested in sponsorship, including in-kind, may contact Nancy Hussey, ISR Executive Director, at seacure@earthlink.net, or by phone at (843) 278-1474 and cell (843) 830-5008, or Dave McGee, Assistant Race/Executive Director, at edavemcgee@cox.net or (703) 399-7617.

The ISR organization is all volunteer; those interested in becoming volunteers may contact Sue Peterson, Volunteer Coordinator, at speterson@chesapeake.net.


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137 Days to the 10th International Submarine Races

Well, we’re down to 137 days to the start of the 10th International Submarine Races. No word yet on the number of teams or the identification of teams that will be competing this year. I’ve started browsing the web sites of past competitors and will soon be posting links to teams that appear planning on competing. This at least will give some insight as to who will attend and possibly what subs they may be bringing.

As usual, I’m far behind on my sub, Mock Medusa, but stay tuned.

Also, I have had some people contact me saying that they haven’t found some of the photo diaries or tail operation videos of Faux Fish. These are all on separate pages, not the regular blog posts.  If you don’t see the listing of pages click on the title “Fauxfish’s Weblog” at the top of any page and it should show the listing of pages and archives on the right hand column. Under “Pages” you will find the extended photo diaries and videos.

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