Fins, not to be confused with Finns, are the most important piece of equipment in the game because they can potentially give you the greatest bit of advantage through increased speed, acceleration and maneuverability.
Fiberglass & Carbon Fins
The cream of the crop are the fiberglass and carbon fins designed for underwater hockey and rugby. Fiberglass and carbon fins are good because they offer great stiffness for a fraction of the weight of rubber and polymer fins. They are also a lot more compact than regular fins, making them super maneuverable. Oh and they just look damn hot.
The most well known brands are Waterway, Specialfins and Leaderfins. Matmas also has similar design fiberglass fins, though being a brand mostly associated with underwater hockey they do not have rubber coatings.
All three brands are being used by the top players in the World Championship right now, so you don't have to worry too much about choosing the 'right one'. Of the three, Leaderfins offers the largest range of designs, with both carbon and fiberglass options. All of them also allow you to specify your preferred hardness of the material from soft, medium and hard. It seems fairly unanimous out there that medium is the best option for UWR, otherwise you could risk cramps and possibly injury.
The only thing to watch out for with fiber/carbon fins (apart from the price!) is that they are more fragile than rubber or polymer fins. So it is recommended to get ones that are rubber coated on at least one side. Waterway and Specialfins only have full rubber coated ones in their range, so this is not an issue, whereas Leaderfins has a choice between uncoated, single coated and full coated. As mentioned before, the Matmas range do not have rubber coatings so it would be more of a risky investment.
Now the final consideration is of course price... Bloody expensive is the short answer. But if you're serious about your underwater rugby (and looking sexy in the water) then you can still tell yourself that it's cheaper than a bike, snowboard, kayak, motorboat, house, 5 year subscription to World of Warcraft.
The Waterways are the cheapest at between 90-100 Euros, if you buy from the company site. Specialfins come in next at between 120-170 Euros (add 30 Euros if you live inside the EU!) and Leaderfins at between 100-180 Euros. $hipping is extra.
If that's all a bit dramatic, then stay tuned for the next post about fins of the more bread and butter variety!
Who uses what?
Word on the street is that the 'Finnish' national team mostly uses fiberglass fins from Specialfins and Leaderfins, with a few of them using the (now no longer manufactured) Technisub Ala all rubber fins. The Danish team plays with a mix between the Waterway fins and the Technisub Stratos rubber/plastic fins. The German and Russian teams also use the Waterways.