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Extreme Dolfinism G2

Discussion in 'Monofins' started by REVAN, Apr 30, 2014.

  1. REVAN

    REVAN The Right Stuff Supporter

    This thread is a continuation of the 2010 thread "Extreme Dolfinism", which was originally started to tell the story behind the development of the DOL-Fin Orca monofin. Smith Aerospace Corp. has been working on a second generation design of the DOL-Fin Orca, and it seemed to make sense to start fresh with a new thread as the original thread was already very long.

    Whereas the original Orca monofin was designed in 2D and all the molds were painstakingly lofted and sculpted by hand, the Orca Mk-2 development has been able to capitalize on new tools and techniques acquired over the past couple of years for 3D design and fabrication.

    This has opened up opportunities to create a design that is more refined than the original, and to take the Orca from being a rare hand-made monofin produced on a selective basis, to a manufactured product for anyone who wants it. As such, the primary goal of the Mk-2 project was to design a new Orca that could be manufactured in greater numbers than the original.

    In conjunction with addressing the manufacturing, we also made several refinements to an already excellent monofin. The Mk-2 is buoyant for added stability in freefall and for better trim when performing dynamics. The binding straps have gone through several design iterations to make them more comfortable and to improve power transfer to the fin. The fin blade has been lowered for improved surface swimming qualities, and the overall streamlining of the fin has gone through digital refinement.

    To kick-off this thread, I would like to share a video to briefly touch on the construction story behind the DOL-Fin Orca Mk-2.

  2. Triton1715

    Triton1715 Active Member

    Nice video. It's neat to see the manufacture of items. Seeing the word "Orca" getting cut out on the fin definitely gives me some ideas. If I ever get the time, I may decide to engrave mine. It would be a bit painstaking and make for a difficult piece to hold in a traditional engravers block so I'll have to rig up something else, but it definitely gives me some ideas. Heck, rather than hand engrave it, maybe I'll just stick inside my laser engraver and do it that way. . . .ideas though. Definitely ideas. . . .

    Again, nice video! Thanks for sharing!
  3. cdavis

    cdavis Supporter Supporter

    Hi Triton,

    Just discovered this thread, don't know how I missed it or the lead up page in the last thead.

    Some further explanations. "Pounce" is a good way to express the first kick. I'm going to respectfully disagree with Fondue on this one. Pretty sure the foil is generating lift on that first kick, even though the knees can be bent 90 degrees or more. Since you are not yet moving fast, drag is not an issue and the standing start acceleration from the longer sweep of the foil truly will blow the doors off bifins. However, once past the first kick and you are moving with increasing speed, drag is a big issue and a straight legged (or close) kick is better. Once you figure out how to use your core for power, you don't need to bend the knees to go very fast.

    There is another set of stroke/speeds that you will find very useful that doesn't require classic mono type undulation. Slow to moderate, up to about 1.2 m/s is available very efficiently with little or no back undulation. The power comes out of the ankles and hips. Profile stays very straight and streamlined. Power input and 02 consumption is low. It might not be quite as efficient as the classic undulation, but for stiff backed, poor technique guys like me, it works very well.

  4. Kars

    Kars Well-Known Member

    Ron, congratulations, your new design looks truly beautiful. Compared to your previous Orca this looks to have a ton of improvements.

    Firstly what I notice is your much improved swimming style, balance, full body, much more fluently moving body and foil. The foil now almost describes a perfect sinus. I think this mathematically curved movement feels very organic, and indicates a very efficient swim.

    Main features like the straps, buoyancy, streamline, and (more organic) aesthetics resonate greatly with me too.
    You've worked very hard and have succeeded in blowing my mind improving and such a big step up over your previous design.

    Already I have to say WELL DONE RON!

    Some questions:
    - Can you tell us how buoyant the Orca2 now is?
    - Which features, and how much, can be adjusted?
    - How far is the development now?
    Love, Courage and Water,

    artiz likes this.
  5. REVAN

    REVAN The Right Stuff Supporter

    Thanks for the compliments Kars. It has been a lot of work to get to this point.

    It depends on the size foil that is used, but the Mk2 is approximately g*(1/4 Kg) positively buoyant. It is enough to insure that it won't sink if it falls overboard and will poke out of the water enough that you can find it when you loop back to retrieve it with the boat. Perhaps the most significant thing is that the buoyancy of the fin does not change with depth. It will provide buoyancy to hold your feet up to keep your body streamline during freefall even at +60m depth.

    The binding straps are infinitely adjustable within their size range. This first prototype is the medium. I expect to be building a large and a small size as well. The medium will certainly accommodate sizes 40-43. It may be able to accommodate a couple sizes beyond that as well, but I'd want to have someone try it before I'd be comfortable saying that it is good for that expanded range. The other fin adjustments are similar to the X-20's. There will be different fin sizes available and different suspension mountings to tailor the fin to the swimmer's biometrics.

    I have just completed the prototype for the medium. I need to do some in-water testing, and I need to downselect the actual fin that will become the baseline for the production run. The fin blade shown in the video is one of the concepts that I'm evaluating, but the production version could still change. If all goes well, I could have the first medium size production units as soon as July. Just keep in mind that sometimes, things don't go well and delays can happen. Once the medium production is kicked off, I will design the large size, followed by the small.

    Last edited: May 1, 2014
  6. HydroApprentice

    HydroApprentice Active Member

    Amazing! I just love it how the concept is developed, improved, and realized with your diligent work (and a set of awesome tools) :) I look forward spending some of my evenings reading up on how your baby evolves and how much enthusiasm it will spark in the freediving community :)
  7. Triton1715

    Triton1715 Active Member

    Hi Connor,

    Thanks for the pointers! I have several big hills to climb with regards to the monofin and unfortunately, due to a combination of work and catching some sort of cold/flu thing last week, I've only been able to get in the water twice with the X-22. Man is that ever frustrating! I just look at it every morning and think, maybe tomorrow I'll have time to get in the water. . . .and the time never seems to materialize. With any luck though, I'm hoping to get back in this Monday, but we'll have to see.

    I've talked to Ron a bit about this in some emails we've exchanged as he has been extremely helpful and attentive to me as a customer. In fact, he sent me a random email the other day just to check in with me to see how things were going and to offer help if I was having trouble. (I just wanted to share that with the forum as I think it 's nice to know how attentive Ron is to customers. . . which I think is about 50% of any business).

    Anyhow, one of the biggest problems I have seems to be in getting my body to undulate while maitaining a perfectly straight-legged approach. Right now it is extremely energy expensive for me because I need to tense my legs just to keep them straight regardless of motion. If I simply relax in the water, my legs will bend a bit, so maintaining a straight-legged approach is currently costing me more in effort than I'm gaining in streamlined-efficiency, by actually a pretty huge margin. Coupled to that problem is that due to the various points of tension I have in order to maintain my form, using my core to undulate (much as I do in bifins) becomes very energy expensive indeed. The odd thing is that if I let my legs bend a bit, my kick and form becomes much more efficient for me and I can get another 50% farther for, what feels like, the same effort. I know that this, to some extent, is counter-productive, but without the flexibility to maintain a streamlined form effortlessly, I think that whatever penalty I pay in increased drag is offset by the fact that I'm consuming quite a bit less oxygen. I suspect that what I am finding "efficient" for me though is actually the kick you described in your second paragraph because I've definitely noticed a HUGE range of movements based almost solely on ankle flicks and mild twitches with the calf muscle. It's not terribly fast and I can easily match it with my bifins. Where the difference really comes in to play though is glide. I can't glide much at all in my bifins and never really bothered to, whereas with the X-22. . . it's like flying! Honestly, it seems like you are in a glider or something and you're just always moving forward. It's pretty cool, but it is taking me a bit to adjust to the concept that doing dynamics isn't about speed, but rather efficiency. . .kick kick, glide stuff instead of kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, kick. . . . .etc. ;)

    I've only had the chance to play with the X-22 twice though so it is really premature to come to any sort of conclusions yet for me, but I can clearly see a pattern forming at the moment that affects how I will need to use it to get the most out of it until such time as I become more flexible in my shoulders and legs. (15+ years of martial arts has left my shoulders pretty darn tight for motions like arms up with head between shoulders. . . too many pushups and punches have tightened that area quite a bit and it'll be quite a while before I can ever hold my arms in that classic monofin pose without it being a HUGE drain on me)

    Thanks again!
  8. Kars

    Kars Well-Known Member

    Hi Triton,

    Here are a few things that will help you to reach that illustrious full body undulation monofinning.

    For your upper back and shoulders: do back crawl, whereby you make powerful big arm rotations. Doing this for 50 to a 100m will make a huge difference in your monofinning later.

    For learning the monofin movement.

    Preparation: 100m back crawl, making sure you've neutral buoyancy.

    - What to do when.

    1) push of the wall, be at least 1 yard deep. keep yourself strait, keep your head down, instead of looking strait down, look a bit back.
    2) while keeping your legs strait, lift your arms a bit up so your strait body gets an angle up.
    3) a) rotate the hips forward, b) with your arms and head roll forward (and a bit down), c) push from the feet your bud up high.
    4) keep the legs strait and let the whole body return to horizontal.

    It helps to have strong quadriceps and belly muscles for rotating your hips forward.
    Notice with 3c that you're not kicking your feet down towards the pool floor, but you're pushing your bud high. The higher it goes, the faster you go, this is the moment when you'll feel the acceleration of the full body undulation!
    In case you wife worries about your increasing pool time and wants to have quality time with you, you can say you're training for it in the pool.

    Let me know how this works for you :)
  9. Triton1715

    Triton1715 Active Member

    Thank you very much for the pointers Kars! I always appreciate any help I can get :) Unfortunately, my problem isn't so much with creating a full body undulation as much as it is doing so in an energy efficient manner. For example, when dolphin-kicking using bifins my feet are quite a bit apart owing to the fins interfering with each other if brought any closer. I can relax and just flow through the water with relative ease and speed. However, once I put my feet together in a monofin configuration, my knees want to drift apart since they're not used to being so close together. In turn, I have to significantly tense my muscles to not only keep my legs straight, but also my knees together. Added to the tension in my back and shoulders to keep my arms tight above my head, and this becomes incredibly inefficient for me right now. I would say that, shooting from the hip, somewhere around a third of my conscious energy expenditure is used simply to hold that form. Thus, from my preliminary experimentation, it seems that I need to find the balance between good monofining form and excessive tension. I'm sure that as I dive more, my muscles will loosen up and this configuration will be easier to hold/maintain without so much use of muscle, but the reality is that for time being the completely locked, straight-legged approach is just not efficient for my body. . . what ever benefits I gain from decreasing drag are vastly offset by the extra energy expended to do so.

    On a some what related topic, I'm curious if anyone else has experienced this: Do you find that various arm configurations (above head vs. at sides) makes it easier or more difficult to dolphin kick? I've been experimenting with this since February and have the strangest quirks that seem to arise depending on where my arms are. For example, without fins on, I find dolphin kicking to be very difficult in general. If I put my arms above my head, it becomes nearly impossible for me to move forward. However, if I put them at my side, all of a sudden I can move quite quickly . . .? Conversely, with the X-22 attached, I can hardly dolphin kick at all with my arms at my side. . . it feels like I just can't get traction, but if I put my arms above my head, all of a sudden I can take off. This all happens to varying degrees depending on the day, but I'm just curious if anyone else has experienced this strange effect of arm placement on their dolphin-kicking ability. . . at least back when they were learning it?

    Thanks again!
  10. Kars

    Kars Well-Known Member

    To make it a bit easier to keep your legs strait, turn your heals outward, this will help to lock your legs strait.

    In regard to the arms-no arms in combination with bi-fins and X22, this has to do with timing and balance (like most things in life ;)
    With the x22 you'll have much more downward resistance, hence in combination with arms aside you rotate your body down and things fall apart.
    With the bi-fins you may overpower them, by kicking them down hard.
    In order to learn and explore, it's important that you also try swimming soft and slow, so as to discover all the subtle movements and variations. From your description I get the impression that you are using your legs only, kicking them down. Give rotating your hips in and pushing the ass up a try.

    A video would really help me to give you much better advice.
  11. Triton1715

    Triton1715 Active Member

    Don't I know it! ;) I'd love to be able to see what I'm doing so I can better correct it. I've tried everything from looking down at my legs just to see what's going on to swimming inverted attempting to get the reflection of the surface to give me some hints, but alas, I may just have to get out a video camera and figure out a way to rig it up to film without a cameraman. I think if I was able to see my technique (or lack thereof) I'd be able to correct it MUCH faster than the guessing that I'm currently doing. Maybe I'll have to get out my Olympus and see if I can figure out a decent way to set it up like that. In the meantime, thanks again for the advice. I'll try to focus more on hip in my next session and see if that changes the equation at all (y)

    Thanks again Kars!
  12. REVAN

    REVAN The Right Stuff Supporter


    I tend to think that good monofin technique requires you to develop some belly dancing skills with regard to rotating and swinging the hips. Like with so much of freedive training, you don't have to get in the water to practice and do drills in order to become proficient and improve your skills. The dance can be practiced in the privacy of your own home while standing on solid ground. It looks a little strange, and some have comment that it looks like I'm trying to swim backward, but that is just an optical illusion because my feet are fixed to the floor and not stroking a fin.

    This slightly embarrassing video, attached below, shows the core undulation you want to perfect. Rotate your pelvis forward, then thrust it forward. Next, rotate your pelvis back, and then thrust it back. Repeat the cycle. Since this drill is practiced while standing up, it will teach you to keep your knees straight. Otherwise, you'll end up doing squats which require more energy and it will feel inefficient and wrong (which is desirable for this training exercise as we want to discourage bending the knees).

    It is helpful to practice this in front of a mirror so that you can see if it looks like you are doing it right. Practice this little belly dance regularly until you don't have to think about it to make it happen. When you get in the pool, enjoy the results of your training.

    Last edited: May 2, 2014
    Triton1715, Kars, Benp and 1 other person like this.
  13. cdavis

    cdavis Supporter Supporter

    And I thought I was the only one doing that ridiculous dance. My wife gives me a very hard time. It may be goofy, but it will teach you a bunch about undulating.

    Triton, I experience exactly your feeling of excessive effort in undulation specificly and classic mono style in general, I think it is a function of stiff muscles and has led me to work on other strokes, that don't require undulation and are much more relaxing, if slower. Most of what I do (and I think, you do) is going slow, where the stroke I described works perfect and seems very efficient. I have worked hard on developing a classic undulation, cause I like to go fast once in a while, but, as you surmised, it takes a while. Doing the dance helps. As an aside, the non undulating style works well hands down or with something in your hands, camera, spear, etc.

  14. cdavis

    cdavis Supporter Supporter

    Something else to try. If you lock your knees, it is very energy intensive. Try locking you knees, then doing what you think is a straight leg stroke. If they feel the same, both in the knees and energy input, you are probably keeping your legs too straight, but it ain't likely. Worth the experiment.

    Arms up or down makes a huge difference. The arms forward provide leverage to undulate, arms down, undulation is much harder. If you are not undulating, just moving your hips and ankles, keeping knees mostly straight, you have much less need for the arms up leverage. Arms up is still faster, for streamlining reasons, but not as critical.

    Knees, learn to keep'em together. I have the same issue.
    Triton1715 likes this.
  15. Fondueset

    Fondueset Carp Whisperer

    Good to sea this thread - the new Orca looks gorgeous! Connor - What I meant, wherever I said it, is that the second kick is the one that really gets it (in a two kick set) and efficiency is optimized with good form. No doubt you do get thrust at extreme angles.

    Triton - you are welcome here anytime for some coaching. Don't push the shoulders. As you probably know - they take forever to heal.
  16. Triton1715

    Triton1715 Active Member

    Thanks very much for the video. It was extremely helpful. After playing with it a bit in the mirror, I was able to see that what I thought I was doing in my upper body, I was in fact not! I had seen a number of videos of swimmers dolphin-kicking in a manner that seemed to emanate from the navel or a bit lower, flowing downward through the body (rather than from somewhere around the sternum) and have been attempting to emulate that effect. In doing so, I was completely locking my upper body when I thought it was moving (due to motion I'd felt in my shoulders). What I was in fact doing was more of a bend at the waist than any true undulation. After playing with it a bit in the mirror, it appears that either my hips or my lower back (can't tell which is the real culprit) are perhaps a bit too stiff to achieve this motion with any sense of form or grace. It would seem that when I attempt this, it's as though my body is fused into a stiff plank between the solar plexus and top of my hips (about the lower third of my torso).

    I don't really have time to get to the pool again until Monday and it probably isn't a good idea anyway since I'm running on 4 hours of sleep and am all sore from fighting last night, but dog gone it all, I'm taking some time off and heading out to the pool in a few hours anyway just to be able to feel this different stuff in the water. I'm frankly just too excited to wait until Monday again. . . I'll see if I can make any headway on that and report back this afternoon. Thanks again for the video! It was quite enlightening!
  17. Triton1715

    Triton1715 Active Member

    Hi Connor,

    That sounds about right to me. After experimenting in the mirror and all, it seems that stiff muscles or other connective elements are certainly guilty parties. I usually go slow as well, but I'm definitely active. I don't sit on the bottom. . I like to explore. Speed is also a fun thrill which I greatly enjoy from time to time as well. I'm somewhat on the fence about which way I'm going to practice with this fin. On the one hand, it has so much potential for anyone that develops a good monofin technique, but the flip side is that for all the work that goes into developing the technique, very little of it seems (emphasis on seems) like it would translate over effectively into the diving I do (carrying a camera and actively swimming via dolphin kick makes for very jerky video). Again though, I'm just too new to it all (both the fin and monofinning) to develop any meaningful opinion about it. Afterall, Fondueset does lots of photography all with the mono and it works out great for him, though I'm not sure if he does much video.

    Speaking of speed, I still have a long way to go before I'll be able to develop much speed with this, but just for kicks (pun intended), do you have a ballpark idea of how fast you can do 25yds with the X-20? I'm just curious how it compares in flat out speed to my bifins even though I know that is not its intended design/purpose. Just idle curiosity.
  18. Triton1715

    Triton1715 Active Member

    Thanks for the suggestion! I'll try it out this morning at the pool and see what happens!

    Funny thing about dolphin kicking for me. As I mentioned earlier, in some configurations it's easier for me and in others, it's darn near impossible. The strangest one for me is that I can barely move anywhere at all if I dolphin kick without fins, but the one exception is if I'm on my side with arms at my side. For some bizarre reason, I can really move like that though I have no idea why I can only do it in that specific scenario. Weird, eh?
  19. lil jon

    lil jon Active Member

    Wow, almost everything I visit the forum I find something new. Congratulations Ron!

    You seems like a methodological person with a genuine keen interest in performance. Looking forward to seeing some numbers and stats. :)

    (I'm a performance numbers person)
  20. Triton1715

    Triton1715 Active Member

    Thank you once again Fondueset for the invitation/offer to help! It is very much appreciated and I hope to be able to take you up on that later this year. Time just keeps slipping through my fingers like water. Actually, if things progress the way I'm hoping, we may be able to start spending significantly more time up in TC as early as next summer, but there are quite a few pieces that have to fall into place first. If that happens, I'll finally be able to start diving with more regularity again.