The fifth annual Splash-in underwater photography competition run by the Torbay branch of the British Sub-Aqua Club (BSAC) took place on Saturday, 14 August. A Splash-in competition is one where the photographs must be taken on a single day, and sometimes within a certain area (in our case, Torbay). There were four categories of entry: Beginner, Compact Camera, Wide-angle, and Close-up/macro. Once a popular form of competition, they seem to have declined in recent years, and now the Torbay Splash-in is one of the few being held anywhere each year.

Club booth on Beacon Quay          

The club booth on Beacon Quay with 'history of diving equipment' models.


Despite numerous setbacks (Covid-19, Rule-of-Six, poor sea conditions) we managed to attract 19 competitor registrations, leading to 12 competitors submitting a total of 49 photographs. As in previous years, the quality of photographs continues to be high, which given the poor conditions on the day, is a testament to the skills and resourcefulness of the contestants. As usual, we had a booth set up on Beacon Quay for the contestants to meet us and hand in their photo submissions. It also aims to raise the profile of the club for local visitors and in the past, it has attracted new members. 

We are indebted to Peter Rowlands, our esteemed judge, who provided insightful and interesting comments on the winning photographs, and all done in a supremely timely manner on the night, even though he was working remotely. The Evening Event was attended by less people than usual (mostly due to the impact of Covid-19 restrictions) and unfortunately only one of the winners was present to receive their prize on the night. However, the dinner and presentations were, I hope, appreciated by the 20 or so people who did attend. Thanks to the Royal Torbay Yacht Club who provided an excellent venue and meal on the night.

This year, we were delighted to accept sponsorship for two of the prizes: Christopher Ward provided a valuable diving watch for the winner of the Popular Vote, and O'Three provided the First Prize for the Beginner Category (including a voucher for 50% off a new drysuit). 

This was our fourth annual Splash-in and, despite the setbacks, it managed to achieve some success that will hopefully further establish the event at a national level in the world of underwater photography. 

Here is Peter Rowland's introduction to the awards presentation, along with his comments on the winning photographs (you can also view larger versions of the photos in our Galleries pages): 

"Good evening, ladies and gentlemen and thank you for inviting me once again to judge the images from this year’s Torbay Splash In.

For obvious reasons this year’s earlier event had to be postponed and rescheduled for today. This later date ran the risk of a weather gamble and unfortunately the conditions on the day were not, shall we say, sparkling :-)

A shame it may be, but that is the essence, and also the attraction, of a Splash In. You are all, so to speak, in the same boat. With good weather it is easier, but when the conditions and vizibilty are significantly restricted it becomes a test of your photographic mettle, so I would first of all like to congratulate each and every one of the entrants on your day’s work.

Competitions are cruel for the entrant but also the judge. Tonight, for the few, I will be the good guy, but for the majority my judgement will be questionable at best and “he definitely shouldn’t be invited back next year!”. Such is the nature of competitions. On the positive side they do provide a very valuable opportunity to see other’s work, and to learn how and why they succeeded.


The sixth annual Splash-in underwater photography competition run by the Torbay branch of the British Sub-Aqua Club (BSAC) took place on Saturday, 18 June. A Splash-in competition is one where the photographs must be taken on a single day, and sometimes within a certain area (in our case, Torbay). There were four categories of entry: Beginner, Compact Camera, Wide-angle, and Close-up/macro.

The weather was kind to us this year, and 18 competitors submitted a total of 69 photographs. The standard of photography was particularly high this year, with the judge recognising more ‘Highly Commended’ entries in each category, in addition to the First and Second Prizes.


An evening dinner and presentation were held at the Royal Torbay Yacht Club, where all the photographs were shown, and a ‘Popular Vote’ held to select a “peoples’ favourite”. Judging was conducted anonymously by Peter Rowlands, the well-respected photographer and editor of Underwater Photography Magazine, who provided insightful and interesting comments on each photograph.


This year, the competition attracted sponsorship from O’Three, who sponsored the Beginners category (including a voucher for 50% off a new drysuit), Teign Diving Centre who sponsored the Compact Camera category, and Dr Paul Naylor, who donated two copies of his excellent book ‘Great British Marine Animals’ to be awarded to the first prize winners in the Wide-angle and Close-up categories.

 Peter Rowlands: “Thanks for the invite once again. It is a pleasure to come here and as I’m driving over, I think of all the work that’s been put in by all of the entrants. And it’s a pleasure to look at the images that come out of this snapshot of the area. It was very difficult this year; it’s been easier in the past and I guess that’s because conditions have been quite favourable. The standard of the images was very good and it was quite difficult to get them into the order of first, second and highly commended. But that’s what it’s all about. I’d like to show you all of the pictures and share my thoughts and feedback as they come up on the screen.”

An extract from ‘DIVER’ magazine, January 1984, courtesy of Terry Blackmore.

What they were after, it turned out, was the wreck’s second giant prop. This is how they got it – in a report by Bill Bunting.

I didn’t know what they were up to when Brendan Jaffa of Torquay BSAC asked if I could take a group of divers out on Likely Lad for an evening dive on the wreck of the SS Maine. They asked to be put down on the stern end – a normal request.

Over the next few months we dived the Maine again and again - always on the stern! My suspicions were confirmed on the third dive when they went over the side with cameras, tapes and note pads. Brendan then felt obliged to let me in on his secret: they were going to lift the spare propeller!

Although as far as I was concerned, it started with that dive in early April, the planning and preparations were all carried out long before. Torquay BS-AC had purchased the Maine back in the early sixties, shortly after Derek Cockbill and his band had first dived on her. The ship’s main bronze propeller was raised and sold in 1963 by Derek and his team, an exploit well documented in DIVER.

The reason for raising the spare propeller, of cast iron, was obviously not financial and originally came about as an idea that was “thrown in” to boost somewhat sagging interest in the branch. As Brendan said, they owned the Maine and really ought to do something with it. Initially the talk was of selling the propeller for scrap, though at £10 to £14 per ton it would not cover the cost of the lift.

Much debate followed on whether the project would financially break the branch. Then came a breakthrough.

A new shopping centre was under construction in Paignton and the developers, Centros Properties Ltd, were planning a central feature - probably a modern sculpture. A casual inquiry as to whether they would be interested in a genuine, very large ship’s propeller that had not seen the light of day for 66 years received a favourable reply and eventually a budget was agreed.

But how to set about it? How much did the propeller weigh? The answer to the second question no one really knew. According to records of the ship, the prop was the same size as the bronze one. A reconnaissance dive established this to be so: 7ft 8in blade length, 2.5ft boss diameter and 27ins through the boss. The bronze prop we knew weighed 6.15 tons, but as the composition of the bronze was not known, it was impossible to evaluate the weight by comparison. The nearest estimate was between 4.5 tons and 6.5 tons.

Constitution & Rules of the Torbay Branch BSAC

Rev. 2017. 

1) Title:

The name of the Branch shall be The Torbay Branch No 0008 British Sub-Aqua Club.

2) Constitution:

The constitution of the Branch will be the current rules of the BSAC except as amended in the Branch Constitution. The latter must not conflict with the former, and should such conflict arise, the constitution of the BSAC shall take priority. The Branch Constitution can only be amended at an Extraordinary or Annual General Meeting.

 3) Membership:

Membership is open to anyone interested in the sport of diving regardless of sex, disability, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, religion or other beliefs, over the age of 14 years and who having submitted an application to the committee is accepted by them.

The committee may require diving members to submit to a diving medical.

All diving members must be members of BSAC.

Branch fees and levies will be decided by the committee from time to time.

On Saturday 29th June 2019, Torbay BSAC held its 3rd annual “Splash-In,” a one-day underwater photography competition attracting enthusiasts from across the Southwest region (and even further afield). Entrants had to take their underwater photographs on that day between midnight and 4:30pm within the Torbay area. There were 4 classes of entry: wide-angle, macro, compact camera, and beginners (not won a previous competition).

The competition was open to anyone with an interest in underwater photography and photos could be taken while scuba diving or simply snorkelling. Prizes were to be awarded at a dinner taking place that evening at Living Coasts in Torquay Harbour. Peter Rowlands, the editor of “Underwater Photography” magazine had again kindly agreed to be the competition judge. 

The club booth on Beacon Quay, where competitors had to hand in their competition entries on the day.

Our Address

Torbay BSAC
Unit 0008
Beacon Quay