HERNANDO BEACH — Despite a string of technical problems, Springstead High School's human-powered submarine team earned high honors, including a class win, during last week's International Submarine Races competition.
Springstead entered two student-built "wet subs" — the single-person Sublime and a two-person craft called Sub Zero — for the event held June 24-28 at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Bethesda, Md. The school was one of four high school teams at the semiannual event that drew 20 entries from throughout the world, including teams from the University of Michigan, Florida International University and Texas A&M.
Team co-adviser Pat Barton said that while Sublime had mostly solid performances, the two-person Sub Zero, which had never run in competition, was beset by numerous mechanical difficulties, including a broken pedal and steering problems.
"We had our share of headaches with it," Barton said. Initial runs down the 100-meter course were disastrous. Two crashes caused damage to the race course's underwater lighting system and concern by officials who disqualified the craft.
Former Springstead student Curtis Weaver posted the team's top time in the solo-powered sub category. Clad in scuba gear, he pushed Sublime to a top speed of 5.97 knots (6.87 mph), earning first place in the high school division, and fifth place overall.
"That was a huge accomplishment for the kids who have worked so hard," Barton said.
Leading up to the event, the team, which has competed in the event since 1993, spent the past several weeks tweaking and testing Sub Zero in the Gulf Of Mexico. Barton said that the craft's unwieldiness was unexpected.
On the final day of racing, officials allowed the Springstead team to make one last run in Sub Zero. With Weaver at the controls and Nicole Jacquot providing leg power, the pair piloted the craft to a top speed of 4.33 knots.
In all, 12 Springstead students competed in the five-day event, Barton said. Although about half of the sub team consisted of graduating seniors, Barton expects the others will remain with the team to prepare for its return in 2015.
"There are always lots of things to learn," Barton offered. "We have plenty of time to do that before we go back."
Logan Neill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1435.