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Thread: Best Propulsion in a fin?

  1. #1
    Grouper
    Join Date
    07/31/2007
    Location
    Tampa, FL
    Posts
    740

    Best Propulsion in a fin?

    Hey all, once again it takes me forever to come around and say hi! However in happier news.. the family got me scuba lessons for the holidays Can that possibly be beat?! I think not

    ANYWAY I was talking with my LDS and they were saying they preferred paddle fins because they felt it gave them better propulsion against the currents in the Gulf of Mexico here, ultimately not using as much energy. However, I have heard that split fins are just as strong, but without the drag (I have paddle fins and I feel they tire my ankles out)

    What are your opinions? I know everyone is different, but it seems like most people go with the splits these days. There is probably good reason for that, eh?

  2. #2
    Grouper
    Join Date
    09/26/2007
    Location
    Fargo,ND United States
    Posts
    252
    I've got Atomic split fins and love how much faster I can go with the same energy expended. Being longer than stock fins they make it a little harder to maneuver in tight areas, or in close groups. I'll never go back to paddle fins. Just my 2 cents.

  3. #3
    When doing my AOW I was using some old paddle fins that started killing my feet, from doing multiple dives. My dive buddy had some Tusa X-pert Zooms and I tried them on one dive and promply went to the dive shop and bought a pair. I was sold after just one dive. I am a big proponent for the Tusa X-pert Zoom fins, I got the black ones which are a little stiffer than the colored ones because I do a lot of river diving in currents and have not had a problem. Mares has some new split fins out that look a lot like the Tusa's.
    Jason Central Texas
    http://www.smartdivers.com

  4. #4
    Grouper
    Join Date
    11/21/2007
    Location
    Stuart Florida United States
    Posts
    561
    There is no replacement for blade area. The question is: What fits your situation best? If your a 20 year old that has zero body fat and can run 10 miles without sweating, you could easily handle a set of freedive fins with your scuba settup. And those large fins have many advantages if your legs can handle them. If your a normal, in about average shape middle aged, person who has not ran a mile since the day you got out of high school physical ed class, you are probably a candidiate for normal scuba fins. If you get tired easy, or are out of shape or old or fat or etc.... Split fins are probably for you. Sorry to offend people but that's my personal opinion. I am sure there are other specific reasons for using specific fin types for certian applications other than the shape your in. Obviously a cave diver probably wouldn't want long fins and someone with doubles and a drysuit would have so much drag that long fins would definatly be a silly choice etc.... But if your talking most propulsion for the fin type on a typical open water diver, then that's the way it is.
    I've tryed them all. I hate split fins, Atomics and some others my buddies let me try. I used regular Tusa Imprexx fins for a long time and they are excellent fins. I then used Mares Quattros which are probably the best regular fins avilable IMO. I started running a mile every day a year ago and, a little while after that, I tryed my young in shape dive buddies Cressi 2000s. The next day I bought a set and wouldn't use anything else anymore. Those are the freediving type long fins. I now find it kind of funny to be diving with people using split fins, side by side, as they are paddling like hell and going the same speed as me barely finning. Both methods get the job done, but having the option to bend the large blades and move at twice the speed is very nice. And in current there is no comparisson. As long as you have the legs to run a set of the bigger fins you cannot compare split fins to the long fins. I still have my Quattros and occassionally use them when I'm on crowded boats or ???? I really can't justify them, but I have them and figure why sell them (backups I guess). I think a new diver should start with normal fins and then you can try others split fins etc... as time goes by. You then can go either the longer power fins or the exact opposite direction, of the super easy on your legs split fins as you desire. Start in the middle with normal fins, then decide from there, would be what I would think would be the smart way to go. Split fins sure are popular though, so if that's what works for you then use them. But the general claims about splits being more efficient than regular fins is only as it pertains to a persons ability to handle the blade area of the fins. There is no way around it. More blade area moves more water with more leg power. It's like propping a boat. A boat runs best with the correct prop for the given HP and hull size. If you have alot of HP then you need a big prop. If you have alot of boat you need to drop the prop size. Wrong prop on either is a waste of efficiency.

  5. #5
    Guppy
    Join Date
    08/25/2007
    Location
    Temecula, California
    Age
    60
    Posts
    200
    I agree with Grin.

    A paddle fin is basically a large board with side rails to channel the water toward the end of the fin rather than off the sides. The split fin is designed to allow water to flow through the split in the fin rather than over the end of the fin.

    Given that the split fin and the paddle fin are the same size, the paddle will push more water than the split. From a simple physics standpoint, the paddle fin will provide more thrust than a split fin. Its a matter of surface area and stability.

    By the same logic, the paddle fin will require a lot more power input to drive it through a swim stroke than the split fin because the paddle is facing much more resistance. You’re driving more water with the paddle than the split. Its just simple logic.

    The reason for the existence of split fins is comfort.

    Because you are driving more water with paddles than split fins, you can get tired faster on paddles than on splits and be more prone to cramping and foot fatigue.

    There are also certain finning techniques, such as back kicking, etc. that are easier to perform with paddle fins than split fins. This is simply because of the finning technique, though.

    Wasn’t any of this covered in the equipment discussions in your OW classes?

    Ian
    Ian Wilson

    PADI OW / AOW (OW2) / Rescue / Master / DM

  6. #6
    Grin,
    I agree with most of what you say, except for the "old" comment. I am old and use Gara 2000 longfins for spearfishing up to 6 dives a day. I use conventional blades for travel, however, since they are much easier to pack and transport. Not every senior citizen should be pigeonholed into the split fin genre. But then, I have spent a very large part of my life on, in, or under the water.

  7. #7
    Grouper
    Join Date
    11/24/2007
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    I've used paddle fins and I've used split fins trying to go against that very current you talk about above. No contest. Split fins win hands down. Yes, there is finnng technique to learn, but that is easy enough.

    And the "so called" physics lesson above is all wet.

    Board area of paddles matters, but what really matters is how much of the displaced water is channeled in the direction of thrust, and not just how much is displaced. Split fins are designed to channel that thrust into a useable direction, paddle fins move water up and down. Thus, more thrust in the direction of travel for the same amount of work.

    Bottom line is more thrust, less moving water out of the way, thus less work.
    On a clear disk you can seek forever.
    www.scubaradio.com

  8. #8
    TadPole
    Join Date
    12/12/2007
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    United States
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    17
    Quote Originally Posted by Mycroft View Post
    Yes, there is finnng technique to learn, but that is easy enough.
    This is a very important point. I grew up a competitive swimmer so I've done a lot of laps in the pool with a kickboard. I find now after three years of diving and ~200 dives that I spend 90%+ of my time doing frog kick. It's relaxing, it requires very little effort, it doesn't kick up sand and for me it's very natural.

    Yes, Scuba Diving magazine gives split fins great reviews for performance, but look at the tests. All of their performance is based on flutter kick. Split fins do very poorly with frog kick.

    You may very well be able to get more speed with split fins but if you're trying to win a race underwater, you're not enjoying your dive. Besides, I can get plenty of speed if I want to by switching to flutter kick with my Mares Avanti Quattros. If paddle fins don't give you enough power to overcome a current...well, maybe you should think more about dive planning and consider whether it's smart to do such a dive in the first place (not trying to flame...this is not directed at any previous poster).

    Also, if you want to have maneuverability (helicopter turns) or the ability to back up (sort of like frog kick in reverse), splits are not what you want.

    My next fins will probably be OMS Slipstreams. Tried out Jets for my cavern certification and liked them a lot.

    Bob

  9. #9
    Shark
    Join Date
    10/03/2007
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    San Antonio, TX for now...
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    2,867
    Quote Originally Posted by foglesre View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Mycroft View Post
    Yes, there is finnng technique to learn, but that is easy enough.
    This is a very important point. I grew up a competitive swimmer so I've done a lot of laps in the pool with a kickboard. I find now after three years of diving and ~200 dives that I spend 90%+ of my time doing frog kick. It's relaxing, it requires very little effort, it doesn't kick up sand and for me it's very natural.

    Yes, Scuba Diving magazine gives split fins great reviews for performance, but look at the tests. All of their performance is based on flutter kick. Split fins do very poorly with frog kick.

    You may very well be able to get more speed with split fins but if you're trying to win a race underwater, you're not enjoying your dive. Besides, I can get plenty of speed if I want to by switching to flutter kick with my Mares Avanti Quattros. If paddle fins don't give you enough power to overcome a current...well, maybe you should think more about dive planning and consider whether it's smart to do such a dive in the first place (not trying to flame...this is not directed at any previous poster).

    Also, if you want to have maneuverability (helicopter turns) or the ability to back up (sort of like frog kick in reverse), splits are not what you want.

    My next fins will probably be OMS Slipstreams. Tried out Jets for my cavern certification and liked them a lot.

    Bob
    Actually, they have done tests, and in their testing, the frog kick with splits is just as fast as it is with paddles... In my own swimming in the pool, I can swim longer, faster, in any style with my Xpert Zooms over my full foot paddle fins (and the zooms are hampered a little - I use a pretty thick, heavy boot)...

    I have also had no issues doing complete underwater turns with either fin on...

    The ~only~ downside to split fins (at least the Zooms), is that when accelerating from a stop, there is a split second pause before you actually move, whereas the paddles are a tad bit more "precise"

    As has been mentioned, some people prefer splits, some paddles, every test shows the splits superior in speed, and that usually results in lower SAC as well, so long as you aren't using every bit of speed available...

    As far as the "not trying to win a race underwater" comment - sure, all is true, but you might as well not wear fins if that is the case... My point - we wear fins to be more comfortable, to allow us to go where we want, when we want... I imagine a dive buddy would appreciate you bought a slightly faster fin if you are on your way to rescue them...
    -cody / on vacation from vacation...
    PADI MSDT Instructor, US Coast Guard Captain - Master Near Coastal

  10. #10
    Grouper
    Join Date
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    You ever see a fish with a tail fin that looks like a paddle? Check out Scuba Diving magazine, they do tests every year and every year split fins win in all most all tests. Plus if you are like me and tend to get calf cramps, split fins will virtually eliminate them. I have used 5 differant pair of fins, scubapro jets, tusa imprex, tusa xpert zooms, aqualung blade 2, and scubapro twin jets. I have now sold all but the two pair of split fins. The twin jets are the most comfortable and they are yellow. The zooms are the fastest and has a larger footpocket, I only use them now with rockboots. I have done a lot of dives in Coz and the Flower Gardens in current I have never had a problem.
    Tulsa Aquanauts
    www.tulsaaquanauts.com

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