Boogie Fin Biology 101
What you missed in science class.
By Dilan Carestia.
Monday’s article on fin design by Dan Dobbin poked at the similarities and competition in the design and aesthetics, as well as a little friendly inter-brand banter. A little healthy competition is good.
We’ll get to that later.
Also, full disclosure, I get a little help from fin brand Stealth, and the S2 is my personal propulsion of choice. Again, I promise this will go somewhere, later.
I made a comment that had more people messaging me than it did publicly replying to it. I said that despite everyone’s public bickering, the similarities in fin design mimicked the biological process of “convergent evolution”. That means that even completely different species will evolve along the same path. If you need help, go to Youtube and search “Shark Week – Mako Shark’s Speed”.
What you’ll see is this. Shark wants fish for food. Tuna yum. Shark swim fast. Tuna no want to be eaten. Tuna evolve to swim faster than shark. Shark evolve to catch up to tuna. And on goes the circle of life. Hakuna matata.
It’s also the same reason why bats and birds evolved similar features. They both developed, over time, designs that work.
Then there’s aesthetics. We decide, for conscious, subconscious, and cultural reasons, what is “sexy”. In medieval art, rich chicks and dudes alike be plump – it showed you were physically more likely to survive, and bear children. That is sexy. In the 90’s it was super skinny frames that could fit into low rise jeans, while in 2020 it’s all about how many squats you need to shape that booty.
We are shallow beings. Initial attractions count to what direction we will go (Swami & Furnham, 2008, for those that require footnotes and references to my ramblings).
Again, same in the animal kingdom. It is why male bird-of-paradise species grow such exotic feathers ada then parade them in such flamboyant dances.
To look sexy.
Together then, if we cast these factors into the cocktail shaker, what we are left with relating to fin design is this –
A new sport takes off. Many new players enter the design phase. Many fins are produced and sold. Over time, people decide between what they believe is functional, comfortable, and sexy.
That, my fellow fin wearers, is why we lean towards an ever narrowing field of variations.
Like I said in my post on the original article, I remember thumbing the pages of my Riptide mag and seeing a full page ad trying to make Redback fins look cool. But something didn’t sit right with me. Especially when I saw a mate wear them, and I just looked at them and thought WTF?! I don’t care if they’re comfy. There’s also a reason I don’t wear Crocs.
Enter now the aforementioned bias. I’ve had a little help from the good folk over at Stealth fins, my rubber footwear of choice. However, when asked to choose from 4 different models and a range of colours, I always go back to the S2 in all black.
Why? It fits my foot better than the other versions. It works prone for me and is easily cut down to a round fin for my preferred DK riding. And lastly, because and all black setup makes me feel as badass as Johnny Cash or Dylan Rieder.
Function, form, sexy.
Flick back through the archives and you’ll see little glimpses of this evolution of “style” finepoints. I think I remember an interview where maybe Jono Bruce was talking about how him and his style focused buddies would buy O&E plugs, then sit with sandpaper to remove the logo until they had a sexy plug. Other riders recall taking to their original dolphin shapes with blades to create new variations. We experiment, and over time, factors influence design down the same roads. Still, I just don’t thing a cross-legged reverse would look as neat in a pair of duck-feet style kicks as the dolphin shape.
Regardless of the biological rants of a madman, either way, if someone had a similar design to you, I guess as Oscar Wilde said, “Mimicry is the sincerest form of flattery that can pay to greatness”.