Canadian Team Wins Human-Powered Submarine Races And Breaks World Speed Record

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 TechnologieSupérieureteam taking the winning trophy with their submarine, Omer 11 and breaking the world speed record. The runners-up came from universities in the Netherlands and the USA.

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 an 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 4.94kts, beat the world speed record, which had stood since 2009, in the “non-propeller” division.

Winners announced eISR 2018
Image Credits: IMarEST

“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 gruelling 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, a 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 was 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 manoeuvrable 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 skills 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, Babcock Canada. Babcock supported the races and the winning Canadian team École de TechnologieSupérieure, as well as the University of Victoria team.

“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 TechnologieSupérieure (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 TechnologieSupérieure, 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 TechnologieSupérieure, 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 4 – 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

Liz Whitrow of BMT Canada, a sponsor of the event, said that the organisation “recognizes that entering the European International Submarine Races (eISR) requires real dedication and commitment. Teams need to encompass all the elements of a design and build project, members are required to learn new skills both on the engineering side but also associated with project management, marketing and fundraising. All these aspects attract and create some of the brightest, most enthusiastic students, these are the types of people BMT wants to recruit, and these students are our future. There are limited opportunities for young people to participate in projects where they are able to see project right through the lifecycle of design, build and operate, the eISR gives them this opportunity.”

“Having supported and been involved in the eISR event since its inauguration in 2012, BMT has seen how the teams have raised the bar each year. The quality of the designs and the innovation the teams introduce to their designs is outstanding and keeps going up. It is very inspiring to see 12 teams from 5 countries working together and helping each other to ensure everyone is able to get in the water. We saw equipment, submarine spare parts and even support divers being lent, everyone one just pitches in. The comradery between the teams is amazing and uplifting. BMT can’t wait to see what they can come up with for the 2020 event.”
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 UKand Incredible Oceans

Press Release: IMarEST

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