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Quebec’s Omer 11 is the big winner at the sub races in Maryland

By Edvin Hernandez, NSWCCD public affairs | July 1, 2019

Students from L’Ecole de Technologie Superieure (ETS) have established themselves as regular competitors at the International Human-Powered Submarine Races (ISR), travelling from Montreal, Canada, to West Bethesda, Maryland, to compete since 1992. The ultimate underwater competition, sponsored by the Foundation of Underwater Research and Education, is held biennially at Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division’s David Taylor Model Basin, which is home to the Navy’s longest tow tank facility.

The Canadian-based team wasted little time at the time trial races this year. Their sub, Omer 11, was the first human-powered submarine to pass a wet inspection test and successfully complete a time trial run on the first day of the competition. While other teams were still fixing their vessels to meet the requirements of the mandatory wet inspection test, Omer 11 strongly finished their first day with five completed runs.

Omer 11 recorded its fastest time on the second day of the races, clocking a speed of 5.8 knots. Each year, the crew draws inspiration from Omer subs in the past, produced by former ETS students, to develop innovative designs that will help their sub meet the demands of the ISR.

“We were doing Omer 10 two years ago when a lot of our old members were finishing up their bachelor’s degree,” said co-captain Guillaume St-Yevs. “The goal was to do a submarine in one year and collaborate with all the new members. For the non-propeller system, we kept the inspiration of the Omer 10 submarine. The difference is that we optimized the non-prop system with our new team and put it in the Omer 11, which is the same ship as the previous hull, just newer.” 

Alterations to the team’s Omer 11 did not stop there.

“We wanted a bigger challenge. That’s why we were the first submarine to put a propeller and non-propeller system in our sub, to be eligible to compete in both categories,” St-Yves said.

The ETS team challenged themselves further by adding a propeller system that has variable pitch and cambered blades to help it maneuver more smoothly in the water.

“Our team designed our buoyancy at a 45 degree angle so when the torque of the blade comes, it goes in a straight line. We put some lead on one side and foam on the other side to get the submarine shifted more on the right,” St-Yves said.

To make the Omer 11 faster, the crew also added a stabilizer to their sub’s configuration. They ran a computation fluid dynamics analysis to measure the amplitude needed for the shape of their submarine.

Even the fins on the submarine were made in new rubber material, allowing the team to adjust the tension.

“Last year, with Omer 11 (at the European International Submarine Races), we did not have a wrap like we have today,” said St-Yves on June 27, the day before the final push for the highest speed. “It was handmade paint, but it was bumpy and created a disrupting drag forcing us a little to the left. For this year’s competition, we decided to strip the coating off and get it right with vandal paint on the high and low spots of our sub. Then we wrapped it and made it slicker than last year for improved speed.”

Omer 11 nearly swept the competition this year, getting the highest speed of 6.85 knots on the last day. They also took the Innovation Award, the Best Spirit of the Races Award and the Overall Performance Award.