Stories like this are what inspired us to start Boardseeker in the first place. Passionately grown from windsurfing roots, a personal interest quickly developed into one of the most loved fin brands in the market place. The man behind it forged a career that now sees him heading up development with one of the biggest windsurfing brands in the world, Fanatic International. So how did this story pan out, we caught up with Dani Aeberli to find out more.
Over to Dani...
Where are you from and how did you get into windsurfing?
I am Swiss born and grow up around Lake Zürich. My dad is a windsurfer since the early days and taught me right away how to enjoy this fantastic sport.
You now work for Fanatic. What is your role there and how does it fit in with owning Choco fins?
I am Product Manager for Windsurfing and SUP at Fanatic. I absolutely love to create products from scratch so to be able to work on some ideas and dreams until they become reality is just the most awesome job.
We have a great Team at Fanatic and I believe you can feel in our product how much personal passion and love we are putting into each and everyone of these shapes.
So at the end work at Choco became even more streamlined as we are now able to design the right matching ChocoFin to the needs of a new board design and for sure we are also always testing all other fin brands to make sure we are offering the best fins for each Fanatic Product. I personally do my best to ensure that the ChocoFin brand and it's products are right at the top of the game.
How did you learn to shape fins?
Back in my early freestyle days there was just nothing on the market which was as good as needed. That's how I started to make fins during my apprenticeship as tech model maker.
After the first Freestyle fins were working some more composite slalom fins followed and step by step a full collection began to form.
What made you decide to start a fin company and when did you publicly start selling fins?
There was some request from all the freestyle boys to get some of my fins and I was just not able to make them all by hand. So I asked a producer back than if they could make some CNC G10 fins for me. My friend Steve started to do all the CAD work on the fins which helped a lot to get the R&D going for all the other fin styles we were looking at.
In the end I started a company called ChocoSports, which will have its 10th anniversary this year. I guess we made already made something like 70,000 fins in total, these range from being supplied by some of the biggest windsurfing brands in the world to your local surf shop.
Looking back at everything now there never was a real plan to make a fin company. It just sort of came about and I am now very very proud of ChocoFins.
What inspired the name ‘Choco’?
In 2004 I went down to Lake Garda for a season and the Italians started to call me CHOCOLATA... so it didn't take too long until someone cut it down to CHOCO.
So as there was a request for a name of the fin brand, it somehow came up and CHOCOFINS was born.
What qualities do you think set Choco fins apart from the competition?
We make high-end quality products for every kind of riding style.
Our fin designs are driven by people which live the sport at his best and need the best fins to perform at the highest level. ChocoFins was made to make each session even better, no matter if you freeride or wave sail, we want to have only smiling faces coming off the water.
Do fin designs have to keep evolving to work with the modern board and sail developments, or is a good fin from say 5 years ago, still a good fin today?
A good fin will always be a good fin, but it is right that modern boards need also some fin adjustments on profiles and outlines.
The styles of the boards changed a lot over the last 5 years so for sure it is better to update your fin collection with something which is also up to date!
Lucky that most of the boards already get delivered with a new modern fin so you have for sure a good base to start your
Which fin ranges do you find the most challenging to design and why?
The hardest is the wave fins as each rider has his style so for sure you always find a guy which likes something else.
In general you make small steps every year, but to make sure that you do not kill the overall performance there needs to be a lot of testing done in all kinds of conditions before we decide to make something totally new.
Your fin lines are built in a range of materials from Carbon to G10. What effect does the material have on performance?
We use G10, Carbon, RTM and even Polyester.
Materials are very cool to play with, each material has his positive and negative aspects but if you mix the right blend of material together you get something outstanding.
I personally really like the options to be able to test any kind of material and I am sure there is also still a lot to discover over the following years.
With the exception of your ‘Flowing’ concept, the untrained eye could be forgiven for saying that modern fins look very similar to how they looked 20 years ago. Has much changed? What have been the main evolutions?
Every boardstyle needs its matching fin so for sure they are always some design elements from the past involved in today's fin designs, but as the boards got shorter and wider the fins also became totally different. There are a lot of adjustments on the pressure point of the fins, pressures which have to be worked out and fixed in profile and outline design.
We have seen modern sail and board ranges increase the range of use on offer. Do you think the same has happened with fins?
The most important thing is that you choose the right style of fin for your board in the right size. If you get this straight away then you already have something good which will cover most of conditions.
Do you think we are going to see any big step changes in fin design in the near future, or will it continue to be a subtle evolution of today's fins?
Multifin boards are the most awesome project to design and we certainly burnt a lot of money on the fin testing for this type of board as you always need to make sets, but it is fantastic to feel the improvements in riding by just changing fins.
Long way to go still but yes it will certainly be a lot of fun in the future.
What is the theory behind your ‘Flowing range’?
The Flowing got made in corporation with a famous university in Switzerland. It came from the design of a of a whale fin, to connect nature with hi-tech technology.
This fin is simply amazing, no more spin outs, better control, better planing, better upwind and even faster than a normal freeride design.
We did sell this fin in some countries very very well, but in others somehow the interest of something innovative and new was not really requested.
But I can tell you that that fin design really rocks!