We’ve probably all seen scuba divers on television, hitching rides on the backs of manta rays or sea turtles. For those of us who love the ocean, it looks like a near-magical experience, but ... you shouldn’t do it. Marine biologists will tell you that it’s simply a form of harassment, which the animals themselves don’t particularly enjoy. So, how can you replicate that “flying underwater” experience? Well, Norwegian inventor Simon Sivertsen would suggest you buy his boat-towed Subwing.
The device consists of two hydrodynamic wings, joined in the center with a steel-and-rubber swivel – this allows them to pivot independently of one another. Riders hang on using rubber grips at the front of the wings, or by grasping a rubber grab loop in the rear. Heavy-duty Dyneema fiber ropes are attached to the top surface of both wings, and join up with the user’s own tow rope.
Once they’re in motion, riders can steer the Subwing up and down, left and right, or perform spins, by angling or twisting the wings. As can be seen in the video at the bottom of the page, it looks like a lot of fun, although the device is recommended for skin divers only. Presumably the sudden depth changes involved could make breathing compressed air dangerous, plus the tanks would no doubt create a lot of drag.
Additionally, towing speeds over two knots aren’t recommended.
Speaking of danger, one does have to wonder how the people in the boat will know if their underwater buddy has been shaken off of the Subwing, or cracked their head on a piece of coral – it’s not like they’re able to see them, except for when they pop to the surface to grab a breath.
In any case, for people willing to take the risks, the Subwing is available in three versions. The fiberglass model sells for US$700, the carbon fiber matte model goes for $850, while the carbon gloss will set you back $895.