Monday, April 15, 2013

Some Notes on Fins 2


As promised, this post covers some high-end fins which are made from G-10 laminate.  As I mentioned in the previous post, we tend to look down on G-10 fins here but I'm not sure that this is justified.  The fins to be mentioned come from C3, Black Project, Tectonics and Maui Ultra Fins.  Each of these producers have, or have had, top slalom contenders using their fins, winning against others using carbon fins so there is no doubt that G-10 fins are capable of the highest levels of performance.

G-10 is a glass epoxy laminate used by the electronics industry which consumes acres of the stuff in sheet form.  Windsurfing fin makers discovered the material and were attracted to it because of its strength, stiffness, uniformity and machinability.  G-10 lends itself to CNC milling which means that any number of fins can be milled, each one an exact replica of every other.  My question is why do we not substitute carbon fiber for the glass fiber in G-10 to get a superior fin making product (C-10 maybe?).  I am convinced that most things in life can be improved with carbon fiber.

C3 Fins
The first maker of great G-10 fins is C3.  This is Boogie's own company and they have been making top end fins for many years.  As mentioned before, Boogie is one of the best fin designers in our sport so his products have to be taken seriously.  The fin of interest to us is his Sting 2.  This fin is used by some of the top slalom racers on the circuit (Ben vd Steen, Pierre Mortefon and Antoine Questel).  The performance of these guys is testament to the quality of the fin.  A Sting 2 will cost you around $300.

C3 Sting 2

Black Project
The next fin comes from Black Project.  These fins are gaining the attention of slalom racers everywhere and appear to be something special.  Black Project's designer, Tom Hammerton, a sail designer and trained aerodynamics guy is responsible for the brand's success.  The model of interest to us for general blasting is his Type R race/slalom fin.  A mean piece of equipment which will cost you around $250.  Remember, an elliptical fin is easy over rough water and good for high speed control.  

Black Project Type R

Tectonics is virtually as old as our sport so I'm sure everyone knows about the company.
The Tectonics Talon has always appealed to me.  It just looks right and I recall Finian using these fins to devastating effect in the day.  Their new fin is the T-43 which they claim is a giant killer.  It is shaped very much like the Talon but I assume with slightly tweaked architecture.   The Tectonics fins sell for around $215.
Tectonics Talon

 Maui Ultra Fins  
This enterprise interests me because the designer has drawn on his knowledge of hydro dynamics to come up with an approach which is at odds with most other fin designers.  Maui Ultra fins are designed by Rick Hanke, a scientist who spent many years working in the field of Flight Dynamics at the German Aero Space Centre.  Most of the fin designers in our sport use the data and findings from an initial NASA study on wings and wing shapes done in the 1980's.  Rick maintains that because this early study was done on foils moving through air, the results cannot be applied to a foil moving through water.  This is due to the fact that water has a lower Reynolds number (measure of viscosity) and this affects the laminar and turbulent flows around a foil moving through the medium.  These concepts and principles are all above my pay grade I'm afraid but I'm happy that someone is using them to make good fins for us.

One of the things unique to MU fins is that they are built to have have as little flex as possible.  Rick maintains that flex is necessary in a poorly designed fin, to avoid spin-out but says that a flexing fin is a compromised fin.  He achieves all the necessary attributes in his fins through effective design and retains all of these attributes in motion, by keeping the fin true.  I note that Kurosh Kiani has joined the MUF team and will be using the fins in the PWA.  He will also be helping to refine and develop the slalom fin line so watch their site for developments.
The MUF Slalom Pro will set you back around $185.
Slalom Pro korr frei k
MUF Slalom Pro

The selections in this and the previous post contain all the fins I planned to discuss.  These are not the only great fins out there and I almost certainly have left some good ones out (Hurricane, Boss, Pfaffi etc) but between the ones covered, you should be able to get to a workable short list if you are shopping for a fin.  My big regret is that I don't have a sample of each of these fins to test back-to back.  I would then be in a position to give some really meaningful feedback.  Fancy theory is all well and good but only if it translates into excellence on the water.  This can only be discovered by sailing the fin in a range of conditions.

Good winds

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