I have had the opportunity to sail my new VMax 39cm fin quite extensively and I am ready to give my verdict on this fin.
The fin is a thoroughly competent performer. It hauls up-wind, blasts across the wind and really moves downwind. It is not without its faults though. I spin out every few runs in situations where I should not really be spinning out. Under extreme pressure I feel the fin scudding sideways on occasion. All in all I give the VMax a rating (according to my off-the-cuff grading system which I have just created), of B+. It may not be good enough to take into the PWA fire zone but it is certainly good enough to be a training fin for sailors at the highest level. It is certainly good enough for me and I suspect for 90% of readers.
Is the VMax worth buying? Definitely. I think that it is better than the Select S11, S12 and I presume, the S1 as well. Apart from the performance aspect, I also have more confidence in the build of this fin when compared to the S series. I know that I am not alone in finding splits in my old Select S series fins and I have confidence that the VMax will posess decent durability.
As I mentioned, my fin is a 39cm length and is perfect under my Falcon 113 with sails of 6.4m and 7.0m. I suspect that I may be better served for the bigger sails, with a 41cm fin. The really fast guys here tell me that the 39cm length is correct - regardless of sail size and the stronger the wind the better. Maybe I just sail in lighter winds than they do. I will try to get a ride on a 41cm VMax with my 7.8m, and will give you feedback when I do.
I am also in a position to give feedback on the Gregor fin (39cm) I have been trying. Surprisingly this fin is very comparable to the VMax. I also spun out on the Gregor but perhaps not as often as with the VMax. Like the VMax, the fin is fast and it blasts comfortably upwind and downwind. Like the VMax, a solid B+. I am now ready to return the Gregor to Juan Alonso and I have to say, I am going to miss it. A nice piece of equipment.
When I compare the Vector Canefire Carbon (40cm) to the above fins, I am confident that the Canefire outperforms both of these fins on all points of sail. The Canefire does everything asked of it with ease and class and allows the rider to be his fastest in comfort. On my rating system, this fin gets a solid A. I would rate the Canefire as being equal to an equivalent Deboichet, Hurricane, Gasoil (and maybe an F4 - I will give an update on these fins in a moment). The A grade fins (in my scheme of things) are good enough to win at the highest level at a purchase price which will not break the bank of the average sailor.
I suppose that to get an A+ grading, we would need to go to Kashy, maybe Ifju and one or two of the really exotic fin makers. Regarding F4, I tried to e-mail the guys but they have simply not replied to me. You may recall that at the end of our last season I was in contact with the guys and they seemed keen to send some fins for us to try. It seems as if this is not going to happen and I am deeply disappointed. They have extended their fin range and it looks awesome. If any of you get to ride an F4 fin, please give me some feedback and I will post your remarks.
We have had a couple of quiet days so a chance for the body to recover.