We had good conditions yesterday so I was able to ride 3 of Pit's fins in different conditions as the wind increased. The Lightning fins are carbon over foam designs, beautifully made and feather light. They are made in the States by a company called Recreational Composites. If you go to their site you will note that their prices are extremely competitive (you get a lot of fin for your money).
I started with the Lightning Square Tip 43.5cm. This is an unusual shape in this day and age. It looks like a miniature formula fin. I put it into my Falcon 104 and took it out with the 7.8 Ram in light wind. It got going immediately flying the board quickly and easily over the water. Very impressive given the low wind strength. Gybes required a bit more commitment as the fin seems to create a strong directional momentum. Easy to adjust to however. Speed was good on all points of sail.
The wind increased and Andy came out with his Manta 110/Reflex2 7.8. We have Christian, a visiting German speed sailor with us and he joined us on a JP Slalom 112/Pryde Race 7.8. The tide was opposite to the wind giving us some added power so I decided to switch to the Lightning Eliptical 40cm slalom fin. This is a very delicate, narrow fin specified for use with sails up to 6.5m. I thought I would get away with the bigger sail because of the favorable tide and I must say the fin did really well. I was able to keep comfortably ahead of the big guys and made the upwind bouy without too much trouble. This fin really hauls going off the wind - great control (fine rounded tip) and a lot of fun.
Would I buy a Lightning fin in place of a Select S11? Probably not. The Select model is such a workmanlike piece of equipment. It does everything you ask it to with no fuss or drama.
Would I recommend a Lightning fin to someone looking for a classy and effective piece of equipment? Absolutely.
Would I like to own one or two Lightnings alongside my Selects? You bet!
After an excellent session on the 7.8 the wind picked up and I changed down to my Koncept 6.6. I kept the 104 Falcon and screwed in Pit's Deboichet SL4 38cm. Andy kept going with the Reflex2 and started blowing everything else off the water as usual. Awesome sail, scary sailor.
The Deb SL4 is a really good piece of equipment. It lifts the board over chop so effectively that you get the impression of having suspension under the board. This imparts confidence and enables you to concentrate on picking your line, maintaining trim, staying sheeted in etc where on a lesser fin all your energy is used trying to survive. A very very impressive foil. The SL4 is definitely something I would buy - possibly a 32cm or 34cm for my small slalom board for rough water.
So an interesting day's sailing. What I learn over and over again is the importance of a good fin properly matched to the rest of the equipment being sailed. The right fin has the power to completely change the performance of board, sail and sailor. Something to bear in mind considering the cost of a fin compared to the cost of the other pieces.