Gran Canaria Invitational 2024

Open-ocean, head-to-head human-powered submarine racing Arinaga, Gran Canaria, Spain, 16 - 22 September 2024 Hosted by Rhine Waal University and Submarine Racing Series


The underwater environment is a difficult place to live and work. The challenges are myriad, and sophisticated technology is required to make it possible for human beings and their machines to operate there. Submaring racing adds the competitive element, injecting time pressure and adrenaline into the mix. The safe delivery of a complex event in a hazardous environment will require careful planning, dedicated implementation, constant communication, and complete cooperation of all parties involved, from the judges to the organisers to the marshalls to the teams themselves and the public that has come out to support the event.




These are the people who will run the event. Safety will be coordinated by the Safety Director in close cooperation with the group of people highlighted in the grey box.


The various roles are described in detail in the Rulebook.


This is where everybody will be during the race. Marshals, officials and team members will be easily identifiable by the colours of the tabrads they are wearing.




The following minimum diving qualifications must be demonstrated by all divers:

  • Open Water level EN 14153-2 or ISO 24801 from a recognised dive training organisation
  • Twenty (20) logged open-water dives post training
  • All GCI pilots must have experience as a pilot at another submarine racing event (eISR or ISR)
  • Proof of Spanish diving insurance (can be purchased locally)
  • Cert cards, logs, insurance and eISR/ISR proof uploaded to
  • Additionally, at least one diver (in addition to the pilot) must have participated as a diver at another human-powered submarine racing event (eISR or ISR)


All diving equipment must satisfy the minimum Spanish legal standards:

  • Labelling in accordance with EN 1089-2
  • Cylinder shoulders painted with black/white shoulder pattern
  • Serial numbers and details stamped into crown
  • Air cylinders CE certified as appropriate (details in Rulebook)
  • Hydrostatic test within 5 years of end of competition
  • Visual inspection within 12 months of end of competition
  • Stamps on cylinders
  • Paper documentation uploaded to moodle


Safety systems on board the submarines must include, at a minimum:

  • Primary air supply: 12L
  • Secondary air supply: 3L
  • Compressed air only - no gas mixtures
  • No cylinder to drop below 80 bar
  • Pressure gauges visible to pilot at all times
  • Pilot face visible from outside the submarine
  • Hatches clearly marked black "Rescue" on orange background
  • Towing points fore and aft, clearly marked
  • Anchoring point (forward towing point dual role permitted)
  • Surface signalling buoy with automated release (dead man's switch)
  • Trailing surface marker buoy with sinking line
  • Extremities and moving parts painted orange
  • Rotating propellers must be shrouded

More details are provided in the Rulebook


Operating Zones

For the safety of participants and other users of the water, a set of clearly identified zones will be established at the surface around the underwater racecourse.

Exclusion Zone (red) – A rectangle around the racecourse approximately 100m x 100m whose southeast corner lies approximately 100m at 225° true from the tip of the muelle.

Buoy Line – A line of buoys to be laid away from the southeast corner along the northeast side of the racecourse on a bearing of 315° true. Sea kayaks will patrol this line to ensure the safety of the swimming public.

Safety Buffer Zone (orange) – An approximately 25m wide band around the perimeter of the race course in which the motorised inflatables will operate.

Ferry Corridor (brown) – Transit route between the ramp of the muelle and the southeast corner of the racecourse. Swimmers, divers and submarines will transit this area as required. Motorised vessels will not enter this area except in emergency.

Swimming Zone (green) – Race traffic will not enter this zone except in emergency.

Fishing Zone (blue) – Race traffic, submarines and divers will not enter this zone except in emergency.

Support Vessels

Boats operating on the race course will include:

Race Control Vessel (1) – A larger vessel (dive boat or sail boat) to be anchored in the middle of the racecourse, from which the race will be coordinated.

Sea Kayaks (2) – Patrol vessels to ensure safety of swimmers along the perimeter of the racing area.

Rescue Inflatable (1) – 3m motorised vessel with driver and crew. Will follow the racing submarines from the surface. Will provide radio communication with Dive Control. Will ferry divers to the RCV or ramp as required.

Surface Sleds / Rescue Divers (2) – Rescue divers will follow the submarines from the surface using high-powered diver propulsion vehicles (DPV's). One rescue diver will follow each racing submarine and assist the safety diver as required. Surface sled will have sufficient buoyancy to support a submarine awaiting recovery by the tow boat.

Tow Boat / Ferry (1) – 3m motorised inflatable with driver, crew and rescue diver as required. Will be deployed mostly to oversee starting area and ferry people/equipment from the RCV to shore, but will also be tasked with recovering submarines that break down on the course.

Safety exclusion zones


Diver Marshals

The following underwater staff will maintain the course and provide safety cover.

Safety Divers (2) – As in 2023, high powered underwater scooters (DPV's) will be used by race marshals to follow the submarines to act as "Safety and support". One safety diver will follow each submarine to complement the rescue diver following at the surface.

Maintenance Divers (2) – A team of two divers will oversee the submarine "pits" whenever these are in operation. They will maintain the markings around the pits and the submarine mooring systems, and stop race activities if visibility gets too bad. They will set out the race course markers each day and repair any damage that occurs. They will assist the safety and rescue divers as required. public.

Underwater Videographer (1) – Working with a surface videography team, the underwater videographer will be responsible for maintaining the fixed camera systems around the race course, and for obtaining free-swimming underwater footage of the race event. The underwater videographer will dive always as a member of at least a two-diver team, assisted as required by the safety, rescue or maintenance divers.

Racecourse Safety

The following procedures ensure safety during operations on the racecourse.

Racecourse Markings – The centre line of the racecourse will be indicated on the bottom with line-shaped markers made of flagging tape and anchored every 5-10m. The outside of the racecourse will be marked with X-shaped markers similarly anchored every 5-10m, approximately 10m away from the centreline. The inside of the course will be marked with circular markers placed equivalently. Displayed in the cockpit of every submarine will be a waterproof chart listing the markers and what action to take when they are encountered.

Excursions Offshore – The course has been designed so that submarines are always turning inshore except on the last leg, when they are pointed at the muelle. Should a submarine make a wrong turn and head offshore, the pilot's depth gauge will provide a first indication of the error, and the maximum depth will be limited by the trailing buoy. The pilot will be expected to notice the bottom falling away. The accompanying safety diver will also keep the pilot on course or call for an abort.

Submarine Racing Safety Team – Head to head racing is a new form of submarine racing and therefore requires some additional steps to ensure safety and fairness. For safety purposes, each submarine on the course will be part of a three-player dive team (SRST) consisting of the pilot, the safety diver alongside, and the rescue diver at the surface. During the starting procedure, the team will coordinate its activities. The pilot will signal to the safety diver that he or she is ready to start. The safety diver will signal to the rescue diver at the surface. The rescue diver will be given the ready to race signal from dive control. The two rescue divers will signal to the start line marshall (one of the maintenance divers), who will give the order for both submarines to start. Once the start signal has been given, each SRST will proceed as a group over the starting line and around the course. In the event that the submarine outruns the safety diver, the rescue diver will take over primary safety supervision until the safety diver can get back on station near the submarine.

Abort Procedure (Conscious Pilot) – In the event that a pilot has to voluntarily abandon a run, he or she will stop pedalling, let go the surface signalling buoy, and allow the submarine to settle to the bottom. The pilot will then open the main hatch, undo any restraints, switch to the reserve air supply and await rescue. The safety diver will signal to the rescue diver, who will submerge to recover the pilot to the surface. The safety diver will recover the submarine to the surface, where it will be made fast either to the surface sled or handed off to the tow-boat to be returned to the starting line.

Abort Procedure (Incapacitated Pilot) – In the event that a pilot becomes incapacitated, the surface signalling buoy will deploy automatically as soon as the pilot's hand loses muscle tone. The safety diver will immediately signal for help from the rescue diver, then approach the submarine, settle it to the bottom, open the hatch and extract the pilot. The rescue diver will recover the pilot to the rescue inflatable at the surface, where first aid can be rendered, and the pilot brought to the RCV or to shore as required. Once the pilot is secured, the dive team will recover the submarine.