On October 1-3, 2010 scuba divers will compete in underwater races around the Benwood artificial reef in Key Largo, FL. The Wes Skiles Memorial Shootout will be the 3rd stop on the 2010 Formula H2O racing circuit and will honor diving innovator and underwater photographer Wes Skiles. Brought to you by the Wreck Racing League, Formula H2O racing is the new action packed, underwater sport featuring divers racing around the superstructure of artificial reefs using Diver Propulsion Vehicles (DPV), or scooters. Visit the Wreck Racing League website for registration.
This three day event kicks off at Shipwrecks in Key Largo, FL on Friday October 1st with the Racer’s meeting at 7:00 PM. Join the Wreck Racing League to learn about the race including rules and regulations, race course, and photo contest. The Marina Del Mar hotel will serve as the Wreck Racing League’s headquarters for the Wes Skiles Memorial Shootout and is offering special discounts for race participants until September 28th, 2010. Visit wreckracingleague.com for booking information.
On Saturday, October 2nd at 9:00 AM racers and the general public will have the opportunity to attend a scooter and DPV demo event at the Marina Del Mar. Following the demo, boats will depart from Atlantis Dive Center in Key Largo for race practice and scooter test drives. Contact Spencer Slate at Atlantis Dive Center for charter information.
On Sunday, October 3rd, Formula H2O racers will compete in the Wes Skiles Memorial Shootout at the Benwood wreck site. Award ceremony to follow, location TBA. Race participation and test drives are open to anyone over the age of 18. Spectators of all ages are welcome at all events to cheer on the racers.
To honor Wes Skiles and his passion for underwater photography the Wreck Racing League and Formula H2O presents a photo and video contest to challenge and inspire underwater photographers. See wreckracingleague.com for contest rules including, formatting, uploading, and voting.
Please visit the race website at wreckracingleague.com for registration and more information. All interested DPV manufacturers or distributors, as well as anyone interested in competing or participating in this event, should contact Natalie Oriente at (239) 464-5932 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
More video from Ft Lauderdale and the Underwater Grand Prix
I’ve finally editing together Day 1, the practice day for the Formula H20 Underwater Grand Prix in Ft Lauderdale, Fl.
We got up really early and headed out to the boat. The great thing about the Tracy is it’s only a short ride out and you can get a beautiful view of the Florida coastline from the boat.
Everyone hit the water, so they could get acquainted with the wreck, check out the course and of course, to have some fun. I haven’t been diving in over a year, so I’m going down just to get used to the water again…
After the initial dive in 70ft of water, we headed off to do a shallow dive on the wreck of the Copenhagen. Here, everyone just played around, checking out the fish, playing with the scooters and got some great fun underwater photography in. At this point I was so relaxed, I thought if I saw a shark, I might be ok with it. Just then, a see something grey and graceful in the distance…. Then, I realize it’s one of the freedivers. They are so beautiful to watch in the water. They just glide along, no scuba gear to weigh them down. I was amazed at how they just played underwater, almost like seals.
After the race, everyone headed back to the hotel, where they had a meeting to discuss the logistics of the actual race. Everyone gave their thoughts and experiences of the practice race and how it could be improved for the following day.
There was going to be a lot of people in the water. About 20 racers, plus a plethora of camera people. There was also going to be a bunch of spectators and there was a big concern about diver safety and making sure nobody got hurt.
After everyone was done, Dean Vitale and David Ulloa played it up to the cameras for a Discovery Channel Canada film crew who were doing a piece on the race. Everyone was pretty exhausted by this stage, so most people headed off to relax.
I had never been to Ft Lauderdale before and I wanted to see what was out there, so I recruited Natalie Weatherby, who’s with the Wreck Racing League and David Valaika, who’s the President of the International Association of Handicapped Divers to head out to dinner. As we headed south on A1A, it started pouring down rain. There was non stop lightning and the roads were covered in water. But hey, we’re divers, we’re used to water. So we hit up Shooters, which had a nice outdoor patio and we enjoyed some down time. We couldn’t stay out too late though, we had to be up and at the boat by 7am….
Just in case you’re still wondering what underwater racing is…
David Ulloa and I had just surfaced from the practice race around the wreck of the Tracy, off the coast of Ft Lauderdale, Florida. I got him to explain what Formula H2O is, and why he’s participating.
I came down to Ft Lauderdale to do some scuba diving and watch the second race in the Wreck Racing League, the 2010 Gold Coast Underwater Grand Prix in Pompano Beach, Florida.
David Ulloa, also know as the Shark Whisperer won first place in the expedition class.
I’m headed back to Texas tomorrow and I’ll start uploading video!
I’m headed to the Formula H2O Gold Coast Underwater Grand Prix
So, I got to thinking. I haven’t done any diving this year and I was starting to get pouty about it. This was my big opportunity to do some diving, do some filming and have a great weekend hanging out with David. Who I am sure is going to win this weekend!
I am so looking forward to this weekend. I’m hopping a flight down on Friday morning, then I’m staying at the official host hotel, The Ocean Point Beach Resort, which is right on Pompano Beach. They hooked up the Wreck Racing League with super sweet discount rates. I can’t wait to wake up in the mornings looking out at the ocean!
The race will be taking place on The Tracey. South Florida Diving is the official dive shop for the event, and diving both days, including getting to demo the scooters is only $110. The first dive we’ll get to watch the practice and do demo’s, even get to try the course if we want. The second dive is a drift dive. On Sunday, we’ll get to watch the race from the Tracey, and then explore the wreck. The second dive is a drift dive on a nearby reef.
Sunday afternoon they’ll have the awards ceremony. I’ll get one more sleep in paradise before heading back to work on Monday….
There’s still time to book your trip to the event. The Ocean Point Beach Resort still has rooms available and I’m pretty sure you can still make it out to see the race. It might be last minute, but life is more fun when you add a little spontaneity!
Formula H2O Racing
David Ulloa will be competing as Team Shark Whisperer in the 2010 Gold Coast Underwater Grand Prix on August 20th – 22nd. Formula H2O racing is an action packed sport which combines underwater scooters and scuba diving racing on artificial reefs. David’s big passion in life is saving sharks. Check out David’s FB fan page, where he says: I’ll be racing in as many races worldwide as I can to promote shark conservation and raise awareness to the issues that the sharks are currently facing and posting pics from those races in this album. As team Shark Whisperer, I will be racing for and working with Shark Savers and the JR Dunlap Marine Conservation Program at the University of Miami. http://www.sharksavers.org/ http://www.rjd.miami.edu/ I’m very proud to say that our team sponsors are Submerge Scooters, Gates Housings and Triton’s Lens. I’m super excited for David and I hope he kicks ass. It sounds like awesome fun and a great cause. What better way to combine your passion for scuba diving and shark conservation. Go David!
Check out the Wreck Racing League for more info on underwater racing or to get involved.
While at the day job today, looking at techie type sites, I found a link to something actually fun.
There’s an underwater webcam in Bonaire. It’s about 15 meters below the surface at a dive site called “Something Special”. The local dive instructors keep it clean, so that must be fun to tune in as people are down there diving.
I always like watching webcams while I’m at work. I used to try to watch the Bra Boys surfing at Maroubra Beach in Australia, but with the time zone difference, it was normally dark. Tuning in at sunrise or sunset is pretty awesome though.
But, for those of us who’d prefer to be diving instead of sitting at our desk, maybe the Bonaire Underwater Webcam can help keep us amused. It’s gotta be better than a goldfish. Maybe I’ll have to use my second monitor to just show this….You can set the screen to refresh anywhere from 2 seconds to 5 minutes, depending on your connection. On 2 seconds, you can actually see the fish moving around.
If you’ve found any neat underwater webcams you’d like to share, let me know. We could all use an escape from the office.
Since I’m headed to Australia soon, I was thinking about the differences in Diving between the US and Australia. The biggest difference, is probably in the Flags used by divers. I always thought most people recognized the Red and White Diver Down flag. However, after doing a shore dive off Magnetic Island on one of my trips home, where some British Backpackers tried to kill me with their jetski by doing doughnuts around our dive flag, I worked out that perhaps it wasn’t as universal as I thought.
Turns out in countries like Australia, the Signal Flag Alpha is the more recognized flag. At least out in the open water. It’s a Universal Maritime flag that means that a vessel has limited maneuverability due to a diver in the water. Of course, this probably doesn’t help a couple of British backpackers who have rented a jetski for the day. They probably wouldn’t have recognized either flag, since all one needs to rent a jetski is a land drivers license. Maybe when operators rent Jetskis, they should be required to inform renters of Dive flags, to avoid potential accidents. Next time you go diving, check out which flags are being used locally. Even in Australia, it seems Dive Operators that cater to International Tourists use the Diver Down flag. It’s on their shop window, on their T-shirts, painted on their boats. But they may still fly the Signal Flag Alpha while out diving. In the US, most people only use the Diver Down flag.
There’s nothing that says you can’t use both. So next time you’re out diving, feel free to use both flags. Then, whether you’re dealing with locals or tourists, hopefully they’ll recognize one of them, and steer clear of you.
We’re re-doing the Going Down website. We’ve changed direction; we’re now focusing on becoming a web series. Hopefully, you’ll be able to sit at work dreaming of Scuba Diving, and now you can just hop on over to Going Down Online and see a new scuba destination. We’ve got a bunch of footage in the can, ready to be edited. I need to make an image map, so you can click on a scuba flag and it will take you to that Scuba Diving destination.
I’m looking into some new places to go visit. Currently I’m in San Antonio, so if you’ve got a great local diving destination near San Antonio, I’d love to hear about it. Then we can come film the diving action and let everyone else see it too! We’re interested in what you do for the whole weekend. So dive bars, dive hotels, dive restaurants, dive clubs, the whole enchilada.
So stay tuned for some new dive destinations on Going Down Online.