Diving Fin Innovations

Maiden voyage of the man-fish

May 20, 2008
Outside Magazine
Diving Fin Innovations

   Photo: Jameson Simpson

Look out, Flipper. Biomimetic pioneer Ted Ciamillo has come up with a revoluntionary monofin that promises to propel a person completely out of the ocean. The 42-inch dolphin-tail look-alike, dubbed the Lunocet, uses winglike hydrofoils—the same technology that keeps an airplane aloft—to help propel swimmers through the water at nearly ten miles per hour. That's theoretically fast enough for a strong swimmer to mimic a dolphin's breach. Ciamillo plans to debut his invention this April in the Florida Keys, where he and his two-man crew hope to become the first swimmers to get completely airborne. $1,250–$1,800; lunocet.com

The Reaction
Unlike flat, old-school fins, the Lunocet's front edge is rounded so water flows easily around it. Plus the blades are visibly thicker near the middle (like a wing), so when a swimmer starts to dolphin-kick, high and low pressure points are created on either side of the fin, which creates hydrodynamic lift.

The Technique
The fin revolves around a pivot and comes with a six-speed tension system. Use a 15-degree angle in first gear to swim lazily or crank it to 35 degrees in sixth gear to go full-throttle. The setup reduces ankle strain and allows you to kick continuously at the most effective angle.

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