Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Divers on underwater scooters duke it out this weekend in Weeki Wachee

WEEKI WACHEE — As a sport, underwater scooter racing could hardly be compared to NASCAR. In fact, competitors only reach top speeds of about 5 mph.

But if you love scuba diving as much as Joe Weatherby does, it's the ultimate thrill.

Two years ago, Weatherby formed the Wreck Racing League, the first sanctioning body devoted to organized competition for diver propulsion vehicles, also known as DPVs. This weekend, the league will play host to the Weeki Wachee Warrior Challenge at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park.

About 50 divers are expected to compete in the three-day event, which begins today. According to Weatherby, the races will be run on an oval course in the spring and will include four different classes of DPVs.

"We're very excited because this is our first-ever freshwater event," Weatherby said. "And it's such a great venue for this kind of sport because people can watch it live from the mermaid theater."

For the uninitiated, DPVs are motorized devices that pull divers through the water by way of a propeller. Powered by batteries, the machines are rated by the amount of thrust they create in the water.

Weatherby, who helped spearhead the 2009 sinking of the Vandenberg as an artificial reef off Key West, organized the first DPV race around the sunken wreck in June of last year to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the event. About 10 competitors showed up.

Afterward, Weatherby and his partner, Dave Sirak, organized the Wreck Racing League and Formula H20, established safety rules and set regulations for DPVs.

In a little more than a year, the league has held 10 races, most of which are in Florida.

This weekend's event in Weeki Wachee has the distinction of being associated with several wounded warrior groups, including Divers 9Line, Divers4Heroes, Freedom Divers, Hope for the Warriors, and Special Operations Forces Wounded Warriors, as well as the International Association of Handicapped Divers. Proceeds from the event will benefit those groups.

In addition to the DPV races, the event will feature underwater product demonstrations, dive demonstrations and lectures. The races will be run between the park's regular mermaid performances.

All events are open to public with regular park admission prices: Adults: $13 Child Age 6-12: $8 Children Five and under are free. For information, call (352) 592-5656.

Logan Neill can be reached at (352) 848-1435 or

.If you go

Weeki Wachee Warrior Challenge

The Weeki Wachee Warrior Challenge takes place today, Saturday and Sunday at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, at U.S. 19 and State Road 50 in Weeki Wachee. All events are open to the public, with regular park admission prices: adults, $13; children ages 6-12, $8; children 5 and under, free. Additional information about the event, including schedules, can be found online at For Weeki Wachee Springs information, call (352) 592-5656.

Divers on underwater scooters duke it out this weekend in Weeki Wachee 10/06/11 [Last modified: Thursday, October 6, 2011 6:40pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Tampa man crashes into parked cars, gate at the Islamic Society of Tampa Mosque


    A Tampa man intentionally drove his pick-up truck into two parked vehicles before smashing through the locked gate of the Islamic Society of Tampa Mosque, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.

    Shaun H. Urwiler, 42, was arrested July 16 for intentionally driving his pick-up truck into two parked vehicles before smashing through the locked gate of the Islamic Society of Tampa Mosque, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
  2. USF hoops to play at Indiana in November


    The USF men's basketball team is set to get an early test from a Big Ten powerhouse in non-conference play next season.

  3. Last steel beam marks construction milestone for Tom and Mary James' museum


    ST. PETERSBURG — Tom and Mary James on Wednesday signed their names to the last steel beam framing the 105-ton stone mesa that will be built at the entrance of the museum that bears their name: the James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art.

    The topping-out ceremony of the James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art was held Wednesday morning in downtown St. Petersburg. Mary James (from left), husband Tom and Mayor Rick Kriseman signed the final beam before it was put into place. When finished, the $55 million museum at 100 Central Ave. will hold up to 500 pieces of the couple's 3,000-piece art collection. [Courtesy of James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art]
  4. Florida's school grades improve as educators get the hang of a new system


    Following a trend, Florida's school grades showed strong gains in the third year after the state changed its grading formula and the standardized tests that students take every year.

    After finding out earlier Wednesday that her school went from a low C to an A,  Bear Creek Elementary principal Willette Houston celebrates with her students in the YMCA After School program at the school in St. Petersburg. Houston is giving a high five to rising fifth grader Jonaven Viera. Rising 4th grader Jonathan Cafaro is in foreground with his back to camera. [CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times]
  5. Tampa Bay woman, 11-year-old boy had sex up to 20 times the year their baby was born, detectives say.


    TAMPA — A woman sexually battered an 11-year-old Brandon boy, got pregnant and raised the baby for three years before a tip led to her arrest, Hillsborough County sheriff's officials said.

    Marissa Mowry, now 25,  had sex as many as 20 times in 2014 with a boy who was 11 when he impregnated her, Hillsborough County detectives allege. [Photo courtesy of Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office]