Winners announced in Europe’s Human Powered Submarine Races

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The week-long European International Submarine Races organised by the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science & Technology (IMarEST) and hosted by QinetiQ in its Ocean Basin at Haslar , UK - Europe’s biggest covered water freshwater space - resulted in Omer 9 from École de Technologies Supérieure Montreal in Canada winning this event for the second time.  Ten teams from universities on three continents took part in the biennial races.

Archimède from École Polytechnique de Montreal, also from Canada, was the runner up.  Both teams received trophies of glass engraved by former Flag Officer Submarines Admiral Frank Grenier. Omer 9 also won the Agility/Endurance award for completing two laps of the course with the fastest time and no faults, and the greatest speed between timed gates reaching 7.1 knots.

The human-powered races, held 7-11 July, saw the pilot (or pilots in the case of Omer’s two-man boat) as the sole source of propulsion driving the submarines by pedalling fast and furiously whilst wearing SCUBA gear in the fully submerged craft that they have designed and built (and continued to improve in their tank-side pits).

They came from École Polytechnique de Montréal (with Archimède), and École de Technologie Supérieure (with Omer 9) from Canada; Rhine Waal University of Applied Sciences (with Inia) from Germany; University of Delft (with WASUB 4) from the Netherlands; University of Auckland (with Taniwha) from New Zealand; University of Michigan (with Odyssey) and University of Washington (with Laurie Belle) from the USA; and three teams from the UK with University of Bath (with Menrva), University of Plymouth (with Mayflower), and University of Warwick (with HPS Shakespeare).

“Several boats entered the race for the first time this year, most noticeable was Mayflower from the University of Plymouth in the UK who won the most Reliable Boat Award and finished third overall,” explains Race Director, Professor William Megill FIMarEST.” Nearly a hundred students from the ten universities gathered at Haslar for what was a marvellous ten days together. They arrived the week before so their boats could be fully dry and wet tested so that racing could start in earnest on Tuesday.  We saw inspirational engineering from the fantastic teams. They really captured the spirit of the race and helped each other out. It was a truly marvellous week.”

“We were delighted to organise this event for the second time,” says David Loosley, Chief Executive of IMarEST. “The level of engineering, determination and ability of the teams is truly inspiring. I know they will have gone away having networked with each other and the representatives of our sponsoring organisations and the superb team at QinetiQ, making contacts that will serve them well for the future. I congratulate them all on their achievements and wish them well for the future.

“I would like to thank QinetiQ for hosting the event again, their superb team who ensure the event runs smoothly and safely and for the support of the MOD DE&S team, allowing access to the facility supported by them via the Maritime Strategic Capabilities Agreement (MSCA);  our sponsors who provided speakers for our Master Classes and Graduate Fair; HMS Sultan for hosting the final dinner; the team of Army divers who provided safely support, led by Lt Mike Williams; our judges led by Vice Admiral Sir Robert Hill; William Megill and Frank Mungo who have worked tirelessly to ensure that the event was an overwhelming success; and all the teams for joining us and overwhelming us with their professionalism and enthusiasm.”

Long list of prizes

The eISR ended with a dinner at HMS Sultan, which saw the teams change from their underwater gear to dinner jackets and long dresses for the presentation ceremony. Apart from the overall winner awards other prizes presented to the teams by Sir John Parker, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering were:

Day-by-day race winners

  • Day 1 – Omer 9
  • Day 2 – Archimède
  • Day 3 – HPS Shakespeare

Two teams tied for best design reports

  • Omer 9
  • WASUB 4

Best repair of the week

  • WASUB 4

Best astern manoeuvre

  • Laurie Belle

Best exploration of the Ocean Basin

  • Odyssey

Consolation Award – first boat into the water for the competition; and first boat on final morning

  • Menrva

Best non-propeller performance

  • Taniwha

For innovation

  • Inia

QinetiQ prize – Oscar for the most dramatic performance

  • Shakespeare

Reliability Prize

  • Mayflower


Sarah Kenny, Managing Director of QinetiQ Maritime and Sir John Parker both spoke at the celebratory dinner, praising the teams for their achievements.

“Sarah Kenny talked of their spectacular teamwork, their engineering ability, their vigour, resilience, collaboration, teamwork, and overall engineering successes,” explains William Megill. “And in congratulating all the winners Sir John expressed delight at the fact that there were so many female engineers in the teams, and undoubtedly found their work inspirational. We had two submarines on display at HMS Sultan – Archimède and Shakespeare - and he thoroughly enjoyed looking closely at the engineering that had gone into their creation and talking to team members. ‘Engineering needs to be at the heart of our society’ he said in his after dinner speech’. Our young engineers most certainly proved the worth of their courses in three continents.

“Photographs and video taken at the eISR are being displayed on the races’ website at to inspire other universities to enter future races, and a younger generation to see the excitement and fun that engineering generates,” he added. “Indeed we were delighted to welcome some engineers of the future from local schools to the races, and in future years hope to attract many more. Sir John made clear just what a huge skills gap there is in the UK alone, globally we need to enthuse the younger generation to opt for engineering degrees and a challenging and rewarding role as professional engineers!”

The races were sponsored by QinetiQ, MOD DE&S, the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology (IMarEST), Lloyd’s Register Foundation, the Babcock Group, BMT Defence Services, James Fisher Defence, and BAE Systems.