Winners of 2018 human-powered submarine races announced

on .


The IMarEST’s European International Submarine Races 2018, held 3 -13 July at QinetiQ’s Ocean Basin in Gosport, UK, have concluded with the Canadian École de Technologie Supérieure team taking the winning trophy with their submarine, Omer 11.

The overall winner of the eISR must combine excellence in engineering design, manufacture, performance, reliability and reporting and, in submarine racing, the name Omer is synonymous with all of these. The students from Montreal brought innovation to a new level this year, combining several iterations of racing success into a single world record-breaking submersible speedster.

Omer 11 is the first human-powered submarine to be equipped with interchangeable propeller and non-propeller propulsion systems. The team started the week with a standard two-bladed propeller, then moved to an even more efficient single-bladed prop to clinch the top speed of the competition by a male pilot. Finally they swapped in their biomimetic propulsion system, which was inspired by the wings of a penguin or sea-turtle, and with a speed of 4.94 kts, beat the world speed record, which had stood since 2009, in the "non-propeller" division.

“The fourth biennial eISR was a great success. Of the eighteen teams that began the competition in summer 2017, twelve made it through the qualifying round over the winter to secure a place on the starting line in the UK last week. Underwater innovation showed up in force as the teams of students from universities in Canada, the US, Poland, Germany and the Netherlands gathered to try their hand at the grueling engineering and sporting competition that is the European International Submarine Races. Modern met traditional as carbon-fibre and 3D-printed hulls took on wood planking and hand-laid fibreglass; novel biomimetic propulsors challenged high-efficiency propellers; and automated mechatronic control rivalled the traditional joystick. A lot of learning happened in among the fun the teams were having, both on and off the course. And of course there is nothing quite like a competition that ends in a new world speed record!” William Megill, Race Director, IMarEST.

Team Wasub from the Technical University of Delft was the first runner-up and is another of the world's most professional student engineering teams. Their dedication to detail and to planning their approach to the competition is a pleasure to see. Their submarine, Wasub 8, was again a speedy machine, testament to the long hours, days, weeks and months the team put into its design, build and testing. They got unlucky with a crash which damaged the underside of the vessel and forced them into some significant repairs, which they completed quickly and completely so that their female pilot could come out on top of her division. Wasub 8 easily won the separate BAE Systems Agility and Endurance race on the last day of the competition, demonstrating the skill of all three of their pilots.

Florida Atlantic University were returning after a six-year absence from the races and won second runner-up. Designed specifically for the slalom section of the eISR course, their submarine HPS Atlantic was easily the most maneuverable vessel in the field. Its directional thrust system, in which a flexible joint in the propeller shaft allowed the propeller to be pointed off-axis, removed the need for a drag-inducing rudder and allowed their experienced pilot to rip through the tight turns of the challenging slalom course and on to victory on the last day of the main competition. It also landed them the coveted BMT Award for Innovation.

"What better way to invest in the next generation of marine engineers and scientists than to give them an opportunity to show their stuff on the international stage. Student engineering competitions like this one foster engagement in the ocean engineering and science disciplines as a way to address the developing shortfall in maritime engineering and sciences. It’s a particularly effective way to attract students into these career fields." Mike Whalley, President of Babcock Canada.

"QinetiQ are delighted to host, for the fourth time, the human-powered submarine race. The development of engineering talent in the marine sector is something QinetiQ support through a variety of events. The human-powered submarine races are a real test of ingenuity and team skills that enables young engineers to develop novel ideas in a very unique working environment. The multi-national interest in this event is very encouraging as this also enables good networking opportunities throughout this specialist field within the worldwide maritime engineering community." Jon Bayliss, Head of Platform Design and Life Support, QinetiQ.


Participating university teams and submarines

  • Technical University of Delft (NLD) - Wasub 8
  • Polytechnique Montréal (CAN) - Archimede 6
  • Florida Atlantic University (USA) - HPS Atlantic
  • University of Victoria (CAN) - Chinook
  • École de Technologie Supérieure (CAN) - Omer 11
  • Technical University of Gdansk (POL) - Nautilus
  • University of Michigan (USA) - Bluefin
  • Rhine Waal University (DEU) - Rivershark
  • University of British Columbia (CAN) - Skookumchuk 4
  • Texas A&M University (USA) - Hullabalooga
  • University of California San Diego (USA) - Vaquita
  • University of Washington (USA) - Knotty Dawg


eISR 2018 Prizes

eISR Cup

Overall winner:Omer 11 – Ecole de Technologie Superieure, Canada
First Runner-Up:Wasub 8 – TU Delft, Netherlands
Second Runner-Up:HPS Atlantic – Florida Atlantic University, USA


Reliability:Chinook – University of Victoria, Canada
BMT Award for Innovation:HPS Atlantic – Florida Atlantic University, USA
BAE Systems Award for Agility and Endurance:Wasub 8 – TU Delft, Netherlands
Best Biomimetic:Rivershark – Rhine Waal University, Germany
Best Design Report:Chinook – University of Victoria, Canada

Daily Winners

Day 1:Omer 11 – École de Technologie Supérieure, Canada
Day 2:Wasub 8 – TU Delft, Netherlands
Day 3:Wasub 8 – TU Delft, Netherlands
Day 4:HPS Atlantic – Florida Atlantic University, USA


Best Female Run:Rivershark – Rhine Waal University, Germany
Top speed Male:Omer 11 – École de Technologie Supérieure, Canada
Top speed Female:Wasub 8 – TU Delft, Netherlands
Best Coed Team:Hullabalooga – Texas A&M University, USA


Best Presentation:Chinook – University of Victoria, Canada
Best Repair:Nautilus – TU Gdansk, Poland
Perseverance:Skookumchuk – University of British Columbia, Canada
Smooth Operator:Archimède – Ecole Polytechnique de Montreal, Canada
Most Unusual Design:Vaquita – University of California San Diego, USA
Tank Exploration:Bluefin – University of Michigan, USA
QinetiQ Award for Most Dramatic Performance:Knotty Dawg – University of Washington, USA


The 2018 races were sponsored by QinetiQ, Defence Equipment & Support, Babcock International, BAE Systems, National Oceanography Centre, Society for Underwater Technology and MLA College and supported by Royal Navy, Marine Society, Sea Cadets UK and Incredible Oceans.