If you know anything about swim fins, bodysurf or bodyboard fins then forget it all now. It will be of no use to you at all. What was thought to be impossible may well be within reach of the average man. I am talking about a new way of thinking. Having just finished talking to probably the most passionate man I have ever met, I am feeling inspired.
Mauricio is one person who should not be given a soap box to stand on on the basis of the infectiously passionate way he talks about the thing that drives him. His first love. The ocean and how to harness the power that lies there using a new way of looking at the swim fin and bodysurfing as a way of life itself.
Leblonfins are Mauricio's rethink on exactly what and how bodysurfing fins are designed, their requirements as regards to both the power and thrust needed when swimming and how that design can also aid the user whilst on the wave. The data, research and testing that has gone into the final design of the Leblonfin is astounding. German physicians, specialists in fluid dynamics and 3 years of pure full time research and development had accumulated before what you can buy today was conceived. My point being that these fins are not just another rip off of the design that has been around for an eternity. What Mauricio has done is to reinvent the wheel and while he was there he has given it a turbo. Check out the fully customisable Leblonfin.
I do actually bodysurf myself, I have some fins, I have a hand-plane and I do get in the water with it every now and again so of course, I was up for a conversation with Mauricio, there couldn't be much more to it than swimming and catching waves, right? Wrong. I was absolutely blown away by the technical level at which Mauricio and the guys at Leblonfins were discussing this suddenly all too complex sport. I felt like a fish out of water that could just about breathe, but what info I did digest has obviously been circling around in the 'grey cells' and after further research it would seem obvious now that Mauricio is a genius. Check out this little clip of what is possible with the 'thrust' that a Leblonfin can give you as advertised by world renowned body surfer Mark Drewelow. If you don't want to give it a go after this you never will.
Let's start at the beginning. After a two hour conversation with a very inspiring genius, I feel like I know more than I need to about details of the bodysurfing world. Mauricio is not content with rethinking the way we propel ourselves to match and harness the energy of a wave, he wants to look at the training aspect of the swimming. Looking at the specifics of how to obtain the most amount of 'thrust' with the Lebonfins product, it seemed only natural that Mauricio continued along the same line and impart upon us a different way to build stamina and hone the correct muscles for bodysurfing and swimming.
The various different training methods, techniques and classes that Mauricio exploits are built to simulate real life scenarios in the ocean. Meticulous care and detail is adhered to when passing on the training techniques. There is no doubt that if you are looking to get better at this elegant diversion we call bodysurfing then Mauricio would be a 'one-stop-shop' for information.
So what makes a Leblonfin better than any other swim fin. Why should you pay 119 US dollars for a pair and why, indeed am I telling you this?
The answers are simple, because they are the best body surfing fin to ever be designed, they have been completely re-thunk from the ground up. These Leblonfins are completely customisable by you in your own home depending on your physical dimensions and for what application of wave riding you intend to use them. Let's get into the hows and whys. There seem to be three main design points that set the Leblonfin apart.
1.The Rail - Mauricio explained to me that you can imagine how much 'power' a fin has by scooping sand up with it and seeing how much it will hold, using this theory then the Leblonfin has a very deep rail and would hold (have a lot more power creating thrust) more sand than your usual fin.
The rail is also designed to be completely separate from the 'footwell' which allows two things; most important being from a fluid-dynamics standpoint of reducing resistance. Most fins have the architecture of a thick, support band running all of the way from the heel strap (which is considered the front of the fin) to the tip. What this does is create a huge amount of resistance or drag when surfing. As you can see below, inbetween the rail and the 'footwell' of a Leblonfin is a space which has been left for the water to pass through, thus creating less drag and increasing both thrust and speed.
The second thing that the re-design of Mauricio's rail does is to act as a fixed rail on a surfboard and provide a 'pivot point' to help with both direction control and increased speed allowing the bodysurfer to surf in front of the white water. Are you getting excited yet?
2. The Footwell - As the stiff rail is not connected to the footwell this allows an increased amount of flexibility in the rubber around your foot and makes for a far more comfortable fit.
3. Construction and Customisation - As you can see in the video below, it is possible to completely customise the Leblonfin to which ever shape you need. There are tutorials here to help you do this with household appliances in your own home. The construction of the Leblonfin not only allows you to do this, but has also been manufactured to remain stiff along the 'stress' or 'flex' point of the fin where it bends as power is applied. Most normal fins generate heat around this flex point after use and do not remain stiff, thus giving the user a significantly decreased performance.
Okay, now on to the 'why am I telling you this' part of the story.
As you may or may not have guessed, designing and manufacturing a product like this on you own dime is not an easy thing. In fact Mauricio told me he has had to sell his car to put the cash into getting Leblonfins out there. He also told me that he has been offered a 'decent' amount of money to invest by another surf brand, but it came with the proviso that he step down and walk away in a number of years, so the answer was no to that.
Mauricio is not in it for the cash but instead the journey of improving and investing in the future of bodysurfing and more. Money is a necessary evil, we accept that and this is why, so far, if you foot size has not been medium ( US Men 9 - 10,5/Brazil Men 40,5 - 42/Europe Men 42 - 43,5) then you would not have been able to buy a pair. That is all about to change as Leblonfins are starting a crowdfunding campaign to get sizes S, L and XL out there which substantial discounts for investors. Mauricio and the team have decided in their wisdom to let you get your hands on the extra sizes for half the retail cost if you get involved in the crowdfunder so just to be clear you could get a pair of gamechanging fins for $59. Check out that link here.
Lastly, I wanted to ask why the name Leblonfins, and as it turns out Praia do Leblon is a beach in Brazil which hold some pretty decent swell and is quite popular with the bodysurfing crowd.
If you are even a little bit interested in bodysurfing, which as a surfer you should be, then stick your hand in you pocket and give some cash to the project, get yourself a pair of the best bodysurfing fins in the world for a fraction of the price and support a true dedicated genuis that is in it for the right reasons. That's exactly what I am going to do right now.