Gosport submarine contest attracts international challengers

SKILLS One of the teams taking part in the submarine challenge at Qinetiq in Gosport
SKILLS One of the teams taking part in the submarine challenge at Qinetiq in Gosport
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THE craft that usually grace Qinetiq’s Ocean Basin at its Gosport facility are probably a bit more hi-tech.

But the site was hosting the inaugural human-powered International Submarine Races at the largest freshwater pool in Europe.

DESIGN A craft back above water

DESIGN A craft back above water

It marked the first time the championships have been held outside America.

And six universities lined up, with teams from Montreal and Quebec in Canada, Florida, Michigan and Texas in America, and Bath representing the home nation taking on the challenge.

Each team had to design and build its own submarine before having several attempts at negotiating a circuit round the vast pool, including a tricky slalom section. The American events had only ever tested straight-line speed.

The plucky submariners had to lie face-down in their craft, pedalling to power it, while also trying to steer in very cramped conditions.

Mechanical engineering student Jenny Blowers, 23, from the University of Bath, said: ‘It’s been a great opportunity to use engineering in a practical way, and apply it in a way that’s real.

‘It’s a huge challenge, and doing anything underwater makes it 10 times more difficult.’

Nicole Perry, 23, from Florida Atlantic University added: ‘I took part last year, but this is completely different – it’s a very different environment.

‘We are all very competitive but it’s been much more friendly, we’ve had to rely on each other for tools and advice because we’re so far from home.’

At an awards dinner on Friday, Bath took the presentation award for its team’s Minerva submarine, with the Ecole de Technique Superieure from Quebec scooping the overall and top speed trophies with their sleek Omer 8 craft.