Underwater Grand Prix

By: Terry Gibson


Divers using "scooters," underwater propulsion devices, will race around the world’s second-largest ship ever sunk as an artificial reef. In 2009. the Vandenberg was sunk about seven miles off Key West. If you're a diver, come race in the third annual Vandenberg Underwater Grand Prix, set for Friday through Sunday, May 18-20.

Whether you care to race or not, avid divers should put the 523-foot-long Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg on their bucket list. It's a former military troop transport and missile-tracking ship. The hull rests in 150 feet, and the super structrure rises within 45 feet of the surface. The marine life that it attracts is astounding.

The pre-race fun begins at 6:30 p.m. Friday, May 18 with a racers meeting at the Rum Barrel, 528 Front St.

Saturday’s events begin at 9 a.m. and include scooter demonstrations, race practice, manufacturer races and diver-propulsion vehicle certification for any racers who are not yet DPV certified. Race headquarters are at the Florida Keys Community College lagoon, 5901 College Road.

The Florida Keys Community College Dive Club will set up with lunch, gear and tank rentals.

Divers will race around the top of the Vandenberg’s superstructure, competing in multiple classes to achieve the fastest speeds while staying within safety parameters. Who would have thought your dive mask would become a racing mask?

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