Sunday, March 22, 2015

Local Zulu Slalom Fins


A while ago I wrote about the new slalom fins being developed by Robbie Bense, one of the top local racers.  I have had a chance to ride two of these blades and would like to give you some feedback.

Robbie left a “soft” 40cm fin with Anthony and a “hard” 40cm fin with Andy for them to try.  They handed them straight over to me of course and I have been having a fair amount of fun riding them.
I put the soft blade into my Falcon 113l and the hard one into my Falcon 124l.  What differentiates these fins from slalom fins previously sailed, is their bend characteristics.  They are very stiff and resistant to twisting in the upper section but are quite bendy towards the tip

Two Beautiful Zulu Fins from Robbie.  Nice Work!

On the water the fin seems to lift the board over oncoming chop without ever getting into uncontrolled tail walking.  I can only attribute this effect to the flexible tip which seems to impart an organic feel to the ride – lifting the board at speed but cancelling excessive lift in the gusts.  It lives! (very  clever). 

I have finished testing the soft fin having sailed it completely overpowered for an entire afternoon.  Gareth was with me hanging onto a 6m sail and small free-race board/small fin.  I was on a 6.4m/ 113 with the 40cm soft fin and just flying.  No problems in conditions where I would usually change to the 3S with smaller sail and fin.  Upwind and downwind performance was simply excellent and no spin-outs.
The hard model is quite small for my big slalom board and in marginal conditions I feel under finned but as soon as the wind lifts, it flies.  Being that the fins are in different boards, it is difficult to compare them against each other fairly.  If pushed, I would say that the harder fin is a bit more business-like and immediate while the soft model may be a bit fuzzy but is supremely comfortable.  For most of us comfort = speed.  I would really like to try a soft 44cm fin in my big Falcon.

What I would say after testing these fins is to urge you to seek out a slalom fin with these characteristics (solid/unbending/no twisting in the upper part of the fin but with bendy tip). Ensure that the fin is from a designer who knows his stuff and ensure that it is in carbon. If the designer has managed to balance the various dynamic effects as successfully as Robbie has done, you are going to experience something special. The blade will create a new dimension which may get you onto the water on slalom stuff in far stronger conditions than you are accustomed to. Frighten your mates. Nice!

Good winds


  1. The Zulu fins look nice! How do they compare to the Vmax 2s and 3s? Also any plans to sell?


  2. Hi Kev
    I cannot say that the fins are faster downwind than the VMaxes. As you know, VMaxes smoke going downwind. What I would say is that for multi-tack sailing, the Zulus are better (certainly for me). I would also point out that Robbie is dominating against very hot racers who use a variety of top fins (ZFins, Deb, VMax etc).

    As far as selling, I'm sure that Robbie would consider this. I gather that he is close to being able to guarantee repeatability of process but we would need to talk with him directly. If you need me to contact him, give a shout. I don't want to provide his contact details without his permission.

  3. With 6.0 and 6.3 sails using 40 cm slalom wide chord fins. Is it NOT over finned ie too much fin ?? I would anticipate flying with hard or soft fins :-)

    1. Hi Joe
      This is what is so surprising about these fins. With a normal slalom fin I would have been totally overpowered and out of control but with the Zulu Soft I was able to retain control and have a whole lot of fun. That same fin is absolutely happy with my 7.8 freerace sail as well.

    2. all i can say is WOW
      talk about wide range fins !!!
      where can we get em ? :-)

    3. I have to add to my last comment - I would have been happier on a 36cm fin but I chose to hang on to the 40cm blade for two reasons:

      1. Laziness. Changing means going in, finding another fin, carrying it to the beach, going back for the right screwdriver, changing, taking all the changed pieces back to the box etc etc.

      2. A curiosity to see just how much power I could handle with the fin. The results were astonishing.

      As soon as I find out from Robbie what his plans regarding exporting the blades, pricing etc are, I will inform everyone via the blog.
      Good winds