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News

On the goal trail with diving mask, snorkel, fins and stick

Bayer MaterialScience AG : 15 June, 2004  (Company News)
It
Two teams, each with six active players and a further four on the bench, attempt to strike – or “flick” as it’s known to devotees of the sport – the puck into the opponents’ goal using sticks approximately a foot long. So far so good. The only thing is that the players need to be exceptionally good at holding their breath, since the game is played two to three meters underwater, which is why they are equipped with diving mask, snorkel and fins.

The sport, which was invented 50 years ago by the English diving instructor Alan Blake and is particularly popular in the countries of the southern hemisphere, is set to gain in dynamism, precision and variety thanks to a newly-developed puck. This new puck is the brainchild of Charles Simms, who was able to incorporate all his experience as a veteran of underwater hockey into the design: “I was mainly concerned with improving the grip between stick and puck. Being able to guide and control the puck close to the stick is essential for successful play. At the same time, the puck has to slide very smoothly on the pool tiles to enable fast, accurate passing.” Simms was supported in his development work by Bayer MaterialScience AG.

The solution consists of a puck combining three materials. As before, the puck features a lead core and a top and underside consisting of an elastomer-modified acetal copolymer. Use of Desmopan® 385 for the edges is a new feature. Thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) from Bayer MaterialScience was chosen mainly for its good gripping properties and its very good wear and cut resistance. It also exhibits virtually no swelling when wet and displays good resistance to chlorinated water.

Another innovation is the mechanical solution for connecting the plastic parts. The top and underside of the puck are clipped together. The narrow TPU edge is molded on so that it forms a flush overlap with the top and underside. Snap connections are used for mechanical fastening. “This design featuring edges made from soft, elastic TPU ensures that the puck doesn’t damage the tiles if it hits the pool floor at an angle,” says Simms. The new puck is manufactured by East Essex Tool Makers in Clacton, Essex, England.

Incidentally, the name octopush derives from the era when the game was played with eight players to a team.
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