The Right Suit for Men Who Would Be Fish
A new surf style washed up on the Oceanside beach at the 14th annual World Bodysurfing Championships--a Neoprene wet suit with built-in fins called a Sharkfin. More than anything it resembles a body surfing board. The look is pure Marvel Comics superhero.
A plastic flotation shell on the garment’s chest and small fins (femur skegs) attached to the thighs, give body surfers “more traction and directional control over the course of the wave,” manufacturer Richard Shumacher says.
The suit was designed by industrial designer Jairo Lizarazu, who has been body surfing for 14 years. “It’s bio-technic surfing, or making a human into a fish,” he explains.
Every time a Sharkfin prototype was tested it drew a crowd of onlookers. The attention was not lost on the test pilots, one of whom called the suit “the ultimate babe tool.”
The $195-$295 retail cost of Sharkfin suits has given Dave Hollander, owner of Becker Surf and Sports, pause. One drawback, he says, is that body boarders (a market the Sharkfin is aimed at) are youngsters ages 6 to 14 who grow too fast for a $200 suit to be practical. And as soon as they can afford it they buy surfboards. Plus, he notes, it takes a good-sized wave to appreciate the hydrodynamics of the Sharkfin and those waves are dominated by surfers. “A body surfer would be cut to shreds,” he said.
Nevertheless, Hollander admits, “I’ve been wrong about a lot of things, like Boogie boards and Rollerblades.”