Equipment Testing : Twin Fins

Twin Fins

Twin fins overview  

2008

Adrian low

The 2009 kit has arrived together with one of the windiest Augusts on record – the perfect ingredients for testing wave kit. With so much hype surrounding Twin Fins at the moment there was no doubt that this test was the highest on our priority list.

Testing is a funny business. You can very quickly try a range of boards and reach conclusions about the differences. These conclusions may stand the test of time, but often you find that a different set of conditions, a different set of fins or even a different riding style can change the results significantly.

Many magazines choose to test in locations that deliver reliable wind. This has obvious benefits, but also has the drawback that day in, day out, the conditions remain consistently similar. By testing in the UK, we are able to test the equipment through a huge range of varying conditions (sometimes even within the course of one day!) and find differences in equipment that may not otherwise have been highlighted.

We have spent 16 full days sailing these twin fin boards here in the UK in a massive range of conditions from overpowered 4.7 to underpowered 5.6 and from logo high waves to knee high. The only conditions we didn’t really get was a proper down the line surfing wave.

Whilst testing will always only be a snapshot of a boards performance, we are fairly confident that we now have a good feel for how these 6 twin fins differ and perform.

Enjoy the test and we look forward to your feedback!

Adrian signature

Adrian Jones

Test Editor

What is a Twin Fin?

Ignoring the obvious answer that it's a board with two fins, they first came to light again last year when Kauli Seadi tore the waves of Cape Verde apart with a whole new style of riding much more akin to surfing than windsurfing.

After that event, every pro rider and their dog had a twin fin on order. The reputation spread and twin fins were heralded as the ultimate board for cross-offshore riding and smooth waves.

18 months later, nearly half the PWA fleet are riding Twin Fins in Pozo (the windiest, choppiest most onshore location on tour) and rumour has spread that perhaps twin fins are even more at home in cross onshore riding where they allow tighter turns and hold speed better.

In truth, we have only sailed one size of twin so far (these 80-85 litre boards) so are not in a position to cast judgement across all sizes, however two things have become clear:

  • The effect of two fins or one, seems to have less noticeable consequence than the shape of the board itself. We have established some noticeable trends, but overall there are still twin fins that are fast and ones that are slow, ones that are loose or directional and ones that are easy to sail or more difficult, just like you find with single fin boards. The shape of the board still seems to have more defining influence on the characteristics than the fin set-up.
  • Despite this, we believe that in general, it is fair to say that a twin fin set-up helps the board to turn tighter, with more controllable grip in the top turn and also makes the board slightly more stable in a straight line when well powered up.

For a full break down of our findings on twin fins, please check out our feature on ‘The Truth About Twin fins’.

A Question of Size

Whilst many magazines have chosen to test smaller (75litre) twin fins, we decided to opt for the bigger size of 80-85 litres.

This is not a size of board that our Clones (most of whom are around 75-85kg) would usually choose to ride waves on.

However, having heard that perhaps one of the biggest benefits of twin fins in future years is that they will allow bigger wave boards to remain fun and manoeuvrable, we decided to pursue this theory and go for the bigger size.

In hindsight, we made the right decision. Some of the boards in this test have blown us away with how loose they are on a wave face. There really is something special about them that a single fin just doesn’t offer at the moment.

It seems that you don’t NEED to ride a bigger twin fin (than single fin), but you can if you want to. And this has many advantages in cross-on conditions.

We have a sneaking suspicion that this is where the real future of twin fins may lie (at least in Euro conditions) – making bigger boards that deliver a ride loose enough to match a much smaller single fin.

Time will tell!

 

Why should you buy a Twin Fin?

The best answer so far is that they offer a new riding sensation. They give you the feeling that you are really surfing the wave.

They make rubbish conditions a lot more fun. You can turn tighter and hold more speed and even in the weakest knee high wave, the best boards give you more turns on the wave and a really nice controllable top turn.

But generally, they enable you to use a bigger board which gives you more volume, better planing and easier sailing.

They aren’t really any more difficult to sail than a single fin, but bear in mind that just like single fins, some board shapes are easier than others to get to grips with.

The Criteria we Tested to

As well as examining and rating each board for overall quality and fittings, the boards were tested on the water across 6 main performance criteria:

Get up and go – What is important to most wave sailors is not the absolute top speed of their board, or the early planing. Instead, the most important factor is how easily the board releases and accelerates to a good speed (particularly through shore break) and gets them ready for the first jump.
 
Jumping – A good board for jumping is a board that has good ‘get up and go', feels directional when lining up a wave, releases well from the wave and has good float and a feel in the air.
 
Cross-on riding – Cross-on riding is pretty self explanatory, and is usually a mixture of front side and back side riding. When riding front side, the sail is often powered up for a time between bottom turn and top turn in the clew first position. A good board should hold speed through turns, be comfortable in clew first position when the sail is powered up and be able to perform a tight radius top turn with ease.
 
Cross –shore riding – Again pretty self-explanatory with the wind from the side, and predominantly front side riding. The main difference is that you stay on the wave a lot more and can use the wave to generate speed more easily. Boards that excel in cross-shore conditions, need control at speed, are comfortable in both wider and tighter turns and transition easily from turn to turn.
 
Wave-ride control – This is a combination of two factors. A board should be easily manoeuvrable allowing the rider to position themselves where they want on the wave. The board should also be both predictable and dependable in order to score well.
 
Board feel – We define the ride as being either ‘loose’ or ‘direct’:
 
  • Loose: + Board is easily manoeuvrable and has a flowing surfy feel on the wave
    - Can feel more difficult to set a rail on wider turns and bigger waves
  • Direct + Board can feel nicer in a straight line and also on bigger waves and wider turns.
  • - Board can feel stiffer and less manoeuvrable on smaller waves and tighter turns

So which is the best board?

As far as we are concerned there is no one ‘best’ board. We tested boards across a set of performance criteria (described above) and ranked them for performance within each.

Using this information we are able to help you choose which is the best board for you. Your priority might be to have the fastest board in the test, or the best for cross shore riding, or the most controlled or perhaps even the prettiest or cheapest. There is no one board that does it all.

Instead, we have set up the Overview Page to allow you to easily pick the best board for you, based upon the criteria that you consider most important. Using a number of filters, you will easily be able to identify the best board/s for your needs.

Pic 4

Test quiver

There are so many variables in windsurfing that we feel it is important when testing to minimise these variables as much as possible. When testing boards, we have used identical test rigs to ensure that the rig is playing no part in any differences established.

We chose to use Simmer Icon sails in sizes 4.7, 5.0, 5.3 and 5.6. Combined with Simmer RDM masts, these sails were excellent. They impressed us immensely with their low-end power, but also at the top end of the wind range where they remained controlled and useable even when completely overpowered. We have not encountered a wave sail with such great all-round appeal before. – we really were impressed!

With fin size and shape being so important on these new twin fin boards, we chose a set of MFC TPs so that we could determine how the boards would perform with fins other than those provided as standard. We used: 140, 150, 160 & 165s. With 80-85 litre boards, the 160’s and 165s received the most use.