Subwing – it's sort of like water-skiing underwater


March 16, 2012

The Subwing is a device that is towed behind a boat, allowing the rider to "fly" underwater

The Subwing is a device that is towed behind a boat, allowing the rider to "fly" underwater

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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.

Source: Subwing via The Awesomer

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

This thing looks like a blast. Make a cheaper plastic version for $300 and I'm sold.

Ben Tierney

This is an awesome idea I want to try it for sure.

Bill Kelsey

What !!! I was doing this 5 years ago when I worked on yachts as a liveing. All we used was the washbourds ( removable , sliding door ) of the yacht and a 50 ' mooring line. It worked fine and it was free . What is the nest thing that is going to be re done that is all ready free on a boat? Bilge bording . Wiith a $300 price tag. Nice try all the same but far to costly when it is free or other wise a small bit of plywood and rope works v well. Simon


Shark bait!

Denis Klanac

great concept...but its already been done...we had something similar growning up as kids...and that was over 45yrs ago...Im sure that this is much more technical than our fun ole porpoise board...that our uncle made for us out of a block of wood...with 2 handles ..retro is new...Im guessing...but using this with the liquid image underwater googgles would give some great footage...


I like it.

Two suggestions: 1) There does need to be an alarm so that the boat driver can stop if the diver lets go. Since the towline tension will decrease radically when the diver lets go, a fairly simple mechanical "flag" could pop up when towline tension decreases. Fancier audible alarms would be even better and enable this thing to be fairly safe.

2) Since there's a towline from the surface, it wouldn't be too hard to have a flexible air-suply tube running down to an air-mask. That would enable the diver to stay down having fun indefinitely : )

Frank MacAulay

Looks like a fast way to tear up a coral reef. Not all ideas are good ideas. Murphy's law dictates that if something bad can happen then it will.


Just use a water skiing tow rope and swim fins.


Ummmmmm - going a bit mad here.... ancient memories.

There was a movie about sponge divers from Greece in an OLD black and White movie.....

On a set of steel rods with control surfaces - being towed behind a boat... something like the front end of a U boat - minus the U Boat.

I think it was either this one, or the following.

Beneath the 12 Mile Reef (1953)

Boy on a Dolphin

Mr Stiffy

Yeah, I built something like this about 50 years ago, out of plans in Popular Mechanics. Mine was a little more elaborate: it had a fuselage (a long 2x4) and cross pieces that I put my knees under and my feet over.

Max Crittenden

Hmmm. I'm 54 now and was doing that when I was a teenager, with two bits of wood. You'd have to be dumb to pay that kind of money.

To Denis Klanac in an earlier thread, You'd have to be pretty dumb to be any where near sharks if your doing this.

Richard Unger

I designed an apparatus that would compress air when the diver came to the surface (battery, air compressor and small tank), then permit the diver to remain under with several minutes of air but decided not to develop it. I was afraid that someone might drown using this equipment and did not wish to be responsible.

Adrian Akau

Looks great fun. You wouldn't want to do this with any sort of compressed air as there is the likelihood of a lung over-expansion injury which can result in very quick death if it results in an Arterial Gas Embolism (air bubble to brain)

I'm not normally this boring but you'd also want to be careful with your ears on this; a rapid descent without adequate equalisation could result in a ruptured ear drum. Uncomforable on it's own but the rush of cold water into the middle ear can cause vertigo which itself could cause a drowning..

Captain (Dive) Safe.

Stu Templeman

Google translate This toy aquatic already exists in Brazil for over 25 years. I made my first wood after acrylic. There's a company in Fernando de Noronha that produces several years

Original in Português Brasil

Este brinquedo aquático já existe no Brasil a mais de 25 anos. Fiz o meu primeiro de madeira depois de acrílico Tem uma empresa em Fernando de Noronha que produz a várias anos,


Oh great so how long until someone gets a hand stuck and drowns because they can't let go?

Ian Mitko
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