GIANNI BATISTA, CHIEF DESIGNER for the Technisub division of Aqua Lung, which made fins and masks, was responsible for the revolutionary fins called the Slingshot.
They employ silicone suspension units to give an otherwise rigid blade, hinged at the foot-pocket and with good flexibility.
By varying the tension on the silicone straps, the owner could adjust the fins to suit individual needs. I tried them extensively a couple of years ago and wrote at the time: “The Slingshots deliver performance – if you have the fitness and ability to use them.”
This was because they had such large blades that I found you needed exceptionally strong legs to take advantage of their undoubted efficacy.
I also wrote: “The other thing I noticed was that, with such large blades, I was really affected by currents that my fins were in but that the rest of me was not. For example, lying under low overhangs to try to get some elusive shot with my big camera, my protruding fins would act like rudders and drag me slowly round.
“They were also slightly irritating each time I touched something unintentionally, such as a part of a wreck. I would have second thoughts about using such big fins in conjunction with a camera near a fragile coral reef.”
So my main criticism of the Slingshots was their size, and I wrote more on that score, alluding to windsurf boards and the like. I’m sure Gianni Batista was not amused to read it.
I’m not a guru and I’m not a rocket scientist.
I simply write about what is patently obvious, and I suggest that a lot of divers probably agreed with me. The Slingshots are big.

Blade
The new Aqua Lung Hotshot fins are the response to the criticism that the blades of the Slingshot were too big. They look very similar, but the whole fin in size XL measures only 54cm from heel to tip.
This almost rigid blade is hinged at the centre of the foot-pocket, with silicone straps that are mounted between the front of the pocket and halfway up the blade. You can vary the tension on the elastic straps by changing the amount they have to stretch. Disengaging the blade-end and snapping it into one of two different positions achieves this.
The Slingshots have three positions for adjustment, but I used either the maximum or minimum positions.
Even with the simplified two-position Hotshots, one can have one side at maximum and the other at minimum, thereby adding another variation to the fin performance.
Hotshots are designed to be easy to adjust while in use under water. While it’s true that the suspension units are readily adjustable during a dive, it’s also the case that even in the softest position, when they felt quite floppy, these smaller fins still took a bit of effort to get moving.

Foot-pocket
The Hotshot foot-pockets seemed less capacious than those of the Slingshots, and could not take my large wetsuit boots.
The only way I found I could use them was to substitute a nylon sock, of the sort supplied by airlines for overnight flights, for the neoprene boot. In this way they took in my feet right up to, and including, the heel.
It was the only way to ensure that the fins really did become a part of my legs and I have to say that, although I have never used open-heel fins in this way before, once in the water they felt quite comfortable.
Nigel Wade, my buddy, is equipped with smaller feet. He was able to use the Hotshots with 3mm-thick neoprene socks, and reported feeling that they did feel like real extensions of the leg. He too thought that the foot-pocket was extremely comfortable.
Gianni Batista has obviously experienced slipping while walking in fins on a boat, and the underside has accordingly been given a good grippy surface.

Straps & Buckles
These fins don’t come supplied with conventional straps and quick-release buckles, so I was unable to substitute a pair of proprietary stainless-steel spring-straps, as I often like to do.
In fact Hotshots appear to offer no means of adjustment at all, relying instead on stretch, so be careful to try them on in conjunction with the boots you intend to wear.
Nigel reported that the straps were too tight with his size 9 boots, even though the fins were size L.

Efficacy
Despite their shorter length, I found the Hotshots to be quite effective when it came to propelling me through the water. It’s just a pity that their smaller size is not reflected in a lesser weight, because these are still quite meaty fins.
So although they will fit easily into a bag, they still weigh a lot more than most slipper fins, some of which are extremely effective.
They were beautiful to use in still water, but became massively hard work in any sort of current. Surface swims took a lot of effort in relation to the amount of propulsion provided because the fins were so negatively buoyant; much work had to go into bringing them up horizontal. Nigel reported a lot of strain to his Achilles tendons.
For all that, with conventional stainless-steel spring-straps and a bigger foot-pocket for guys like me, I would regard them as an improvement on the Slingshots.

Comparable fins to consider:
Aeris Velocity X3, £75
Mares Avanti Quattro, £87
Tusa Tri-Ex, £68

SPECS
PRICE £80
WEIGHT 1.7kg (size L)
SIZES S, M, L
COLOURS One
CONTACT www.aqualung.co.uk
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