FINS Sporasub Variant

Last autumn, in Italy, I watched Gianluca Genoni take a few deep breaths, hold one, and then sprint down to 125m and fin back up again. He was wearing the latest thing in free-diving fins.
Youve probably seen something similar. These are fins so long that they look like a couple of boogie boards protruding from some rubber shoes.
You might also have noticed that some resident dive-guides in far-off places like to use free-diving fins, even though they are really inconvenient in confined spaces - and that includes coral reefs, pick-up boats and the area between the ends of their fins and my face. Goodness knows how they would manage if, like us travelling divers, they had to pack them in a bag.
I recently took a pair of such inconveniently large fins with me to Egypt. Yet they fitted easily in my dive bag. No, I have not started using a windsurf-board bag for my diving gear - it was a pair of the new Sporasub Variant fins I was carrying.
Genoa is the home of the diving division of HTM, the Euro-conglomerate that includes Mares, Dacor and Sporasub. With a track-record like that of its stable-mates, you wouldnt expect Sporasub to produce a fin that had no unique selling proposition, would you
These fins use four patented design features, including an optimised pivoting blade giving a variable angle between it and the foot-pocket, and a revolutionary interchangeable blade system.
The Sporasub Variant design provides for an enormously long fin by making its blade, which measures 64cm from the tip of your toe to the tip of the fin, detachable. The foot-pocket section and the blade interlock and are held in place by a clover-leaf key section and a large three-pronged split-pin.
Thats how a pair came to fit easily in my bag. You can even buy a choice of blades so that, rather like a golfer, you can choose the right one for any given job: Pass me a number 4. Its going to be a tricky one!
In fact I was sent only two types to try. The manufacturer didnt bother to send me the most expensive blade, with a special web of carbon fibres that makes for extreme lightness. It is said to exhibit exceptional characteristics. This blade is evidently going to be the choice of free-diving champions.
For lesser mortals like me there is the Combi blade, constructed from a highly flexible technopolymer, and the Master blade, made from a yet more flexible elastomeric technopolymer which is said by the manufacturer to be ideal for free-diving in shallow water or surf. I was drawn to this latter type.
If you treat yourself to a pair of these fins, you must promise me not to use them for wreck- or cave-diving, and you must certainly avoid going near any precious and endangered corals. Keep them only for chasing whales, whale-sharks and the like out in the blue.
The pair sent to me to try were not my size, so I went diving with Jan Ellingsen, who comes equipped with the sort of short muscular legs that can get the most out of this type of fin. We were using scuba rather than free-diving but I thought we could still find out if they worked and they did.
I wasnt really finning very hard. In fact I thought I was going rather slowly. I must get myself a pair. So mused my buddy when we surfaced. All I could do was gasp for breath, wait for my heart to return to a more normal 60 beats a minute, and grip my aching shins.
It had been such a trauma trying to keep up with him to get the photographs that I was exhausted - and I was using my favourite scuba fins too. So I guess we could conclude that the Variants shovelled the water all right!
Sporasub Variant fins cost £52 with Combi blades, £62 with Master blades and £195 for the carbon-fibre versions.

  • 01923 801572

  • Divernet Divernet
    + Long-bladed fins that fit your dive-bag
    + Theyre fast!

    - Too long for use in anything but open sea