Over the years I’ve used just about every fin that’s been produced. I started with the old rubber vented fins and pretty much followed the evolution of the scuba diving fin with my wallet. I’d buy every new style or design of fin that the manufacturers produced in search of just the right feel on my feet and legs. At one time or another my dive bag has had fins of rubber, silicone, plastic, polyurethane, mixed composites of materials, fins with removable stiffeners, water directing channels, full-bladed, pivots, shaped like fish tails and splits down the middle.
The split fins were finally “it” for me. I can honestly claim that until recently I was most likely the owner of one of the very first, if not the first of retail-sold split fins on the planet. The reason I know this is our company at the time negotiated the receipt of the very first split fins before anybody else on the planet and I helped to unload that truck. Upon spying the very first box of fins in my size, I promptly pulled a pair out of it and set them upon my desk. And since I made a dive later that same evening with my new prize I know I was already in the water with them before the most local of our customers had even received their shipments, which were in the hands of UPS at that time.
But alas, as is all too often the case, somebody valued my beloved fins more highly than I and they now have a new owner. Which put me in the market for a new pair of fins. I was all set to purchase the exact duplicate of my trusty split fin when I glanced toward the Oceanic Vortex V-12 fins. They had everything I loved about the old ones with a few improvements that I’d honestly not thought possible. The foot pocket is shaped in a way to allow for a wider range of foot sizes and bootie thicknesses. A great value to me living near California’s chilly waters now but still enjoying diving in more tropical locations. The top of the foot pocket opens up so as to not cut across the top of your foot while still keeping your foot securely inside. The blade is made of a very soft and flexible rubber mixture that means you’ll feel very little resistance when kicking and still give the best performance possible. What this means to me is that I’m going to keep on having longer, more comfortable bottom times due to the fact that I’m not working as hard as I would be using a stiffer fin. Less work means less breathing. Less breathing equates directly into less consumption of the air in your cylinder, which in turn means more time spent underwater! The next new change was in the blade and how it’s tipped just a bit downward. That slight angle means that more of the blade is in the most functional attitude when you are horizontal during your dive. Again, Oceanic is maximizing the efficiency of the fin while requiring the least amount of effort from you.
Over the past 10 years or so split fins have been getting “perfect scores” in all the testing that has been done on them. My old fins had the very first such score and had never gotten a lesser rating. That being said it looks like Oceanic has done the impossible. They’ve improved upon perfection with the Vortex V-12 fin.