A Wing That Lets You Fly Underwater

What would you say if I told you there was a magical machine that combined scuba diving with hang gliding, required no training, and offered a way to fly past fish and outrace turtles?

You’d probably tell me I was on hallucinogens.

In all seriousness though, with the recent invention of the Subwing system, divers are able to tow behind a moving boat and actually glide beneath the water instead of up on top of it. It’s kind of like wakeboarding underwater, or snorkeling on steroids. The jury is really still out on that one.

Invented by a team of Norwegians who came up with the idea while sailing through the Greek Islands, the Subwing system is even compatible with its own GoPro setup so that divers can record their underwater antics.

What’s interesting is that – despite looking fun and easy – a rudimentary version of this system has been employed by friends of mine in Hawaii for nearly a decade. An upside down, concave boogie board with a hard bottom replaced the Subwing, and a standard nylon rope was run through holes bored into the upside down board. The result is the same ability to be towed behind a moving boat and fly past stationary coral heads at what feels like decently high speeds.

The problem, however, is that despite only traveling at 2-4 knots (as the Subwing website also suggests), since water is 800 times denser than air, the strain on your neck should you try to look to the side during your “flight” is actually rather strong. Without this peripheral ability it’s difficult to see something such as, say, an approaching turtle coming in hot from your port side. When I did this back in 2003 I nearly caught a face-full of turtle.

Nevertheless, this is an invention I am all for and one which continues to push the boundaries of conventional watersports.