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.