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First Ever Underwater Grand Prix in Key West

Pilots, start your engines! Instead of cars lining up on hot tarmac, divers hovered with various types of DPV’s (diver propulsion vehicles) just off the Vandenberg main deck.

It wasn’t the typical red, yellow, green light NASCAR count down, it was a large hammer hitting metal.  Bang!  They were off! Soaring in 100’ of visibility in 85 degree turquoise blue water, pilots lapped the deck, maneuvered corners, jockeying for position and blasted their machines through the race course.

Spectators from dive charters and private boats joined the fun picking prime lookout spots along the course so they could wave and honk underwater horns as racers blew by.  In the end it was Dean Vitale from Miami who set the course record with his Pegasus Thrusters in 4 minutes, 5 seconds, followed by Zach Harshbarger a close second, and Dave Valika who came in third.

See some of the fun on Pat Clyne’s video:  http://www.youtube.com/user/pjclyne.

Besides the actual race on Sunday, June 13th, part of the weekend activities included participation with a booth at the Key West Bacchanalia and DPV test drives at the Key West Harbor Yacht Club Marina on Saturday, June 12th.  Participants were a mix of divers experimenting with scooters for the first time and others trying different styles.  The race was followed by a post dive award ceremony at Hog Fish Bar.

What’s next?  Keep an eye on the Wreck Racing League website: http://wreckracingleague.com/.  Expect more events to be planned in the future.  Dpv’s/scooters have their useful functions for military, commercial, technical and recreational diving as well as assisting handicap divers in the water; it’s great to also take time off to be around like minded people to relax, play and have fun.

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