Paddle Your Way To Better Waves

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By Owen Pye

Swimfins are the hidden heroes of bodyboarding. There, I’ve said it.

Yes you need a board to ride upon, yes you need a wetsuit to keep yourself comfortable, but your fins are arguably just as important pieces of kit – they power you through the waves to get out back; they give you the instant drive you need to catch a wave; and they allow you to steer, accelerate and brake while riding down the line.

I mean have you ever tried to paddle out through 20 lines of ever-increasing whitewater without them? It’s virtually impossible, unless you have arms like legs. They allow you to sit on your board like a boss between sets; and more importantly, they’re the best safety device you can have if your leash snaps.

Fins allow you to swim far more efficiently, helping you cover distance or get out of a rip without expending all of your energy. They could in all seriousness, save your life.

The fins’ edge is an extension of your leg when riding a wave, helping you steer, carve and release into spins. They’re your main method of stalling for a deep barrel, and lifting them at key points on the wave face allow you to speed into a section to get air.

They’re key to everything, and yet they get little love. You throw them on your feet and forget about them when you paddle out, and you throw them in the boot of your car and forget about them between sessions.

However there are many attributes to a swimfin which can have a big effect on your enjoyment in the sea – blade design, flex, and symmetry, as well drainage, foot pocket comfort and size all play their part.

Do you want a flexy, long-bladed asymmetrical fin, which gives you long, loping kick strokes but lack short-distance punch? Or a stiffer, short-bladed symmetrical fin for quick acceleration and the ability to ride dropknee?

All of this and more is covered in our YouTube video on fins by US bodyboarding legend Jay Reale – so make sure you check it out before you pick up your next set of foot rubber.
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