Mark Cunningham

DaFiN is the only swim fin I use both professionally and for recreation. Power and comfort are the two utmost things I need in a pair of fins. DaFiN delivers on both and more.

Mark CunninghamWorld Champion Bodysurfer, 29-year Hawaii veteran lifeguard on Oahu’s North Shore
 Brian Keaulana

I am writing to endorse DAFIN, a swim fin that I have found is the best all-around fin in the world.

My life’s work has been in the ocean as an ocean rescue specialist and instructor, a professional surfer and big wave rider, film industry stuntman and stunt coordinator.
I have been in the most extreme ocean situations. And as I tell everyone who rides tow-in rescue craft with me at Jaws, “Put on your DAFINs now – before the wipeout.”

DAFIN has come up with a design that totally suits my needs in ocean situations. Flexibility and strength are the two utmost things I need in a pair of fins. DAFIN has both and more.

First, flexibility. In a heavy surf situation you need a fin that is flexible to change direction fast, whether it is to get off your rescue craft quickly or to avoid a coral reef. Flexibility is also a requirement in rescue situations where you need agility in the water both for self defense and maneuvering a victim in the right direction.

Second, strength. When tons of water are holding you down or tumbling you over and over, there is only a fine line for survival. When you see that line, DAFIN can kick in with the strength you need to reach your vantage point, whether it’s a rescue or saving your own life.

As I teach in my classes, DAFIN gives me strength to hold back danger, the speed to outrun danger, the agility to outmaneuver danger, the flexibility to bend or contort to avoid danger, and, last but not least, the endurance to outlast danger. Strength, Speed, Agility, Flexibility and Endurance (SSAFE) is my way of creating safety.

When you put on DAFIN, it’s not like another piece of equipment, it feels more like a natural part of your body. DAFIN’s foot pocket is soft and clings to your foot in rough situations. (I have never had one ripped off by ocean turbulence.) And the stiffness of the blade and its outer directional ribs give me added power.

When I’m working on a movie set, whether it be “Water World,” “In God’s Hands,” “Riding Giants,” “Blue Crush,” “Pearl Harbor,” or “Billabong Odessey,” I’m not without DAFINs. In fact, as stunt coordinator on several major movies, I have encouraged other stuntmen to use DAFIN. They have all been thankful for my advice.

So besides flexibility and strength, DAFIN is extremely comfortable. I don’t go to work without them. That’s why when I’m operating a rescue craft in huge surf, I’ve got them on, and they’ll stay on most of the day.

Some of my credentials that back up this endorsement include: instructor for ocean risk management, ocean survival and underwater self defense, former Honolulu City County lifeguard lieutenant who helped pioneer the use of rescue craft and invent the rescue sled towed behind, Hui of He’e Nalu Hawaiian Water Patrol, 1991 Quiksilver Aikau Waterman Award, and over 500 awards for surfing, canoe surfing, body boarding, body surfing, tandem surfing and sailing. Currently I work with the film industry as an actor, stuntman, stunt coordinator and director.

Mahalo for giving me a chance to endorse an extremely good product for surviving extreme ocean scenarios.

Brian KeaulanaWorld renowned Hawaiian waterman
Zak Noyle

I like to put myself and camera in the heaviest and scariest conditions in the ocean, I know I can trust my Da Fins to get me in and out of these situations safely, as well as allow me to have the maneuverability to move in out and not get sucked over while shooting out there.  The blade of Da Fin has just the right amount of stiffness to maximize the thrust with each kick of the foot.  I wouldn’t trust any other fin to get me out into the zone at 12 foot Pipeline and in safely again.

Zak NoyleProfessional Surf Photographer
Mike Trisler

I give my strongest recommendation for DA FIN as the best fin on the market today. I have used DA FIN since its initial development over 10 years ago and have compared it to every fin currently produced. DAFIN is without equal.

DAFIN is the fastest fin in production.  As a member of TEAM HAWAII, I won the 1995 surf rescue competition by nearly 20 seconds in the International Oceanfest World Lifeguard Championships using DA FIN.  I was the only swimmer using DA FIN at the time.  I proceeded to place in the top three forfive consecutive years using DA FIN.  DA FIN’s unique design channels water straight off the back which prevents ‘slippage’ off the sides of the fin giving it exceptional propulsion.  Furthermore, the flexibility of DA FIN at the ‘toe box’ and stiffness of the actual blade enables the entire blade to propel water instead of a smaller proportion as with all other fins. An added benefit of this feature is that the blade can be wider and shorter which prevents cramping and excess fatigue as with other fins, most notably ‘DUCK FEET’ and ‘THE BLADE’.

DAFIN is manufactured with less material and is far lighter than any other fin on the market. The ‘toe box’ is so soft that I have never experienced a blister using DA FIN even while swimming the entire Na Pali coast in three consecutive days. The ‘toe box’ is wide, snug, and comfortable. I can’t wait to put them on.

As a North Shore Lifeguard at Waimea, Pipeline, and Sunset Beach for over nine years, I made nearly five hundred rescues with DA FIN.  With DA FIN  I am able to run even in the deeper sand of the North Shore.  This allowed me to put DA FIN on before entering the water which is critical to keeping a visual on my victim as long as possible.

DAFIN is the superior product.  I challenge every person to compare them to any other fin on the market in the most challenging conditions.

Mike TrislerNorth Shore Lifeguard, World Lifeguard Champion
USLA Endorses DaFiN as Official Swim Fin

The United States Lifesaving Association has endorsed DaFiN as the Official Swim Fin for its members.  In announcing the deal, B. Chris Brewster, President of USLA said, “DaFiN seems to be the swim fin of choice for many of our guards.  The endorsement agreement with DaFiN secures special discount pricing for all USLA Professional members which is available immediately.  Next season, the discount pricing will also be offered to all Junior Lifeguard members.”

DaFiN Surfing Products is based in Honolulu, Hawaii.  Jay Westcott, Managing Director of the company, said, “Our goal is to see DaFiN on the feet of every professional lifeguard in the world so we are very excited to have this opportunity to work closely with the USLA and its members.”

DaFiN was developed by Westcott’s partner, Andy Cochran, an Aussie who has made Hawaii his home for the past 28 years.  Cochran had been a lifeguard at Australia’s famous Bondi Beach and was one of Oz’s early surfing pioneers.

With input from world renowned pros in Hawaii such as Mark Cunningham and Brian Keaulana, Cochran developed his idea for a high performance swim fin about 10 years ago and was granted a U.S. Patent for his unique design.  The side rails — the “strakes”— on DaFiN are rock solid but only run about half way down the length of the fin where they angle back to the blade.  This forces the fin to flex right at this critical point.  The raised v-shaped foot pocket combined with a stiff blade working together at the point of flex creates maximum acceleration of the water flowing over the fin surface resulting in more thrust per kick with less effort by the user.  For such a powerful fin, it is unusually light in weight.  It has a comfortable foot pocket and it floats in the ocean.  There is no right or left foot difference so DaFiN can be worn on either foot.

DaFiN has become a favorite of lifeguards, bodysurfers, and top watermen around the world.  The Hawaiian Lifeguard Association has made DaFiN standard issue equipment for its guards for since 1998.

For more information, see the ad in this issue of American Lifeguard Magazine or visit the company’s website at www.dafin.com.

USLA Endorses DaFiN as Official Swim FinJune 20, 2006
Jack McCoy

Aloha Da Fin Gang!
Just checked out your new website and wanted to thank you for the best fins
I’ve ever used. Growing up in Hawaii I used Duck Feet brand until my “luau feet” got so
wide I couldn’t get into them. I switched to Churchills until they became too stiff
and then spent about 10 years trying all kinds until Mark Cunningham put me into a
pair Da Fin in the late 90’s. I’ve never looked back. I’ve used the same pair ever
since. Everyone that I’ve turned onto them has been stoked.

Thank you for creating what I feel is THE BEST FIN IN THE WORLD!
Aloha, Jack McCoy

Jack McCoy Premiere surf photographer and film maker
Field Trial – Da Fin PRO

President, United States Lifesaving Association
Question: Are Da Fin swim fins a good choice for lifeguards?

Opinion: These fins appear to be clearly superior in almost every aspect.

Background
The United States Lifesaving Association recently entered into a sponsorship relationship with the manufacturers of Da Fin, a new type of swim fin designed by body surfers and lifeguards. As part of this relationship, USLA receives some financial support and USLA members receive a substantial discount on the product (www.dafin.com – “USLA Members”).

I recently had the chance to field test a model of Da Fin called the “North Shore,” which is an earlier model, somewhat stiffer than that currently offered. The current models are a bit more flexible and believed to be better tuned to the needs of lifeguards. Based on my experience, I would personally strongly recommend that all lifeguards consider this fin for their professional and personal use.

I served 22 years as a professional ocean lifeguard in San Diego, California (www.lifesaver1.com). Although the majority of my service was as a supervisor or manager, with 13 years as Lifeguard Chief, I had the occasion to perform several hundred rescues (my estimate), predominately during the early years of my career. These included routine rescues, multiple victim rescues, and rescues in large surf up to 20 feet (mostly in the 1982 – 1983 El Nino year). In our lifeguard service, all lifeguards were taught and effectively required to use Voit Duckfeet (or similar knockoffs) on all rescues. We were expected to keep our fins and RFDs with us at all times. The general benefits of Duckfeet over others available at the time included ease of donning, positive buoyancy, ruggedness, and wide availability.

With this background and bias, I field tested the aforementioned Da Fin model in the British Virgin Islands from 26 May to 3 June 2007. I used them recreationally, not in rescue, while swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving.

Size and Portability
Da Fin is substantially smaller and lighter than alternatives with which I am familiar. They crush almost flat. This makes them easier to tuck into a bag, locker, or other small space. I found that they fit into my nylon airline carry-on briefcase quite easily. DaFin weighs about one pound less than my pair of Duckfeet (about 30% less), are a little wider and are much shorter. I found myself carrying them in one hand, with the fins bottom to bottom. The ridge on the sides provide a natural grip, or you can hold them through the ankle straps.

Comfort and Ease of Donning
Da Fin has an extraordinarily soft foot pocket. They are very comfortable and I had no rub spots or blisters when using them. In fact, I had no discomfort at all. I contrast this to my Duckfeet, which often left abrasions or even bleeding areas on my feet where they rubbed. I consider the comfort level of Da Fin clearly superior to any others I have used. These fins were very easy to don.

Propulsion
DaFin appears to provide propulsion that is at least equivalent to other fins I have used. This however, is a very difficult thing to judge.

Swimming 
I tried Da Fin in a couple of high speed swims to try to simulate a rescue scenario. I estimated my speed to be similar to Duckfeet. In flat water, there is a moderate tendency with the DaFin North Shore model for the fin to slap the surface. This particular model is quite stiff. Current models which are less stiff should exhibit less or none of this tendency. Although I did not use this fin in surf, it should be noted that the fin appears to have been designed primarily with body surfing in mind, notably in big surf areas of Hawaii. Hence, it could be expected to do well in such conditions.

Scuba Diving
Scuba divers tend toward large and expensive fins. Most scuba diving however, involves fairly subtle and rhythmic kicking, as the scuba diver endeavors to minimize exertion, thereby oxygen, and thus maximize bottom time. I found Da Fin eminently suitable for scuba diving and much easier to deal with than the typical UDT size fins commonly used by some divers. This includes a couple of dives up to about 80 feet. Scuba diving involves a lot of bulky gear. Using Da Fin made it easier, with no apparent give-back in performance.

Snorkeling
When snorkeling, one spends most of the time on the surface and occasionally free dives. In my case, I was free diving up to about 60 feet (according to our boat’s depth gauge). In the typically slow speed meandering that is part of snorkeling, Da Fin was fine. In free diving, Da Fin seemed particularly effective as it is light and easy to kick underwater.

Walkability
DaFin promotes the ability of a lifeguard to run (sort of) in these fins. In theory, this might allow donning of the fin away from the surf and entering the surf with the fin already on. Whether this is practical or advisable I do not know, since I did not trial this feature. However, this is essentially impossible with larger fins, such as Duckfeet. In that case, the lifeguard returning from a rescue must generally walk backward out of the water while assisting a victim or victims. Due to the shorter length and lighter weight of Da Fin, it seems reasonable to assume that the lifeguard exiting the water could more easily do so walking forward than would be possible with other fins. Also, Da Fin has ridges on the bottom which appear to be aimed toward improving traction while “walking” in them.

Buoyancy
In lifeguarding, you want your fins to float. This allows you to take them off and leave them in the water when assisting a victim in from a rescue. It also allows you to find them if the fall overboard or if one comes off. DaFin has positive buoyancy and in my tests in salt water, stayed on the surface.

Summary
I found DaFin to be superior in every way I could think of to Duckfeet. For lifeguards who will spend their working days with fins as an essential tool, these fins seem well worth the expense. With the USLA discount, this would be about $40 or so. They seem to be equally fast to that of the competition, while they are lighter, smaller, and much more comfortable. Since these fins appear to be designed, in part, for body-surfing, this seems like an added bonus. I can honestly say that regardless of the support of Da Fin for the USLA, I would expect most lifeguards to find these fins clearly preferable to any other fins I have used.

Field Trial – Da Fin PROby B. Chris Brewster
Hawaiian Lifeguard Association
Hawaiian Lifeguard Association