SOME THINGS JUST STICK IN YOUR MIND. I remember buying my first pair of modern lightweight technopolymer fins, after years of using heavy rubber jobs. I took them on a week’s diving holiday and had a miserable time with them. They were inflexible, floaty and slipped sideways under heavy finning.
Luckily, the skipper had a spare pair of old-fashioned fins to lend me.Then things changed. Manufacturers started using science in the design of what, until then, had been simple lo-tech items.
These lightweight fins improved considerably, culminating in the Mares Plana Avanti Quattro design that was adopted by dive guides worldwide, because it was so good.
The problem since then among all competing manufacturers has been to come up with something better. Even Mares, like the car-tyre manufacturers that promoted radial-ply tires over old-fashioned cross-ply, only to see the longevity of their products destroy their sales figures, had to come up with something different – and better.
It’s been a long hard road but, as with Bob Beamon’s long-jump record, set in the thin air of the 1968 Mexico Olympics, wait long enough and what seems impossible can be achieved.
Fins also vary a lot in price. In our recent side-by-side tests against a speedometer, the prices ranged from £30 to four times that amount.
It was no surprise to find that the majority of the top-performing fins were in the top price category. All, it seems, except one pair.
Mares Wave fins are only recently available. They are very light in weight, and priced in the middle range. I believe that these are worthy successors to the all-conquering Plana Avanti Quattros of the past.

I was off to dive around the islands of western Indonesia, and my previous experiences there told me that there were some pretty irresistible currents forcing their way through between the land-masses.
This can mean a lot of head-down-and-going-for-it legwork at times.
At the same time, the long-haul flights needed to get there demanded that my luggage was as light as possible.
I elected to take the Wave fins with me. I’m a great fan of stainless-steel spring straps, but to save weight I stuck with the rubber straps with which the Waves are supplied. At 20g less than 2kg in size XL, the all-up weight was a bargain.

What You Get
Waves are made from three different plastics. The soft centre of the blade and the top of the capacious foot-pocket is a very soft and flexible material. The base of the foot-pocket, the strong side-rails and the reinforcing X-shape are made from a harder black rubber-like material, and this is augmented in the blade with a translucent plastic that is almost as tough as Perspex.
This hard material is also used in the base of the foot-pocket, where it provides rails to reduce the suction effect of a wet boot.
The advanced buckle system (ABS) that Mares supplies is in its latest incarnation. I found it very convenient to slip my foot in with the buckle open and the straps pre-adjusted and push the buckle closed, cantilevering the strap tight in the process with my other foot.
This meant that I could put my fins on unaided, and without having to stoop – which becomes more important with passing time.
The latest design works better than before, in that even I can unclip the sides with water-softened fingers after a dive. My only reservation is that this unfastening of the ABS relies on the flexibility of a plastic spring, and I wonder how long it will be before that plastic gets tired in tough tropical conditions, and dies.

In The Water
For Wave, read Plana Avanti Quattro. Instead of four channels of flexible material, these new fins use one large flexible area to scoop the water and push it backwards off the fin as you kick, thus propelling you forwards. I can see them becoming very popular at the price.
Fins always look shiny and sexy when you first take them out of their wrapper, but they soon get relegated to something of an afterthought on the boat – provided they continue to work properly. In fact, they soon become quite shabby.
The Waves were no exception, and the leading edge of the blades became ragged after a hard week’s diving.
Then again, I was recently diving with someone using a 30-year-old pair of Power Planas. They looked extremely shabby but they seemed to work, or so their owner claimed.

Mares X-Stream, £125
TUSA Tri-X, £69
Aeris Velocity X3, £74

COLOURS Fog/Blue, Blue, Yellow, Red/Black
DIVER GUIDE width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100%