Many of us will now be familiar with K4 Fins, thanks to their rise to fame on the wavesailing market. Those funky yellow plastic fins have created quite a stir; a stir which has seen even Graham Ezzy go yellow! So, it might be a surprise to hear that they are now also making freestyle fins. In fact, not only are they making them, they are already winning with them in the hands of the newly crowned UK Freestyle Champion Andy Chambers.
- Price: £42.50
- US Box: 14, 16, 18, 20cm
- Powerbox: 16, 18, 20cm
About K4 Freestyle Fins
You might be wondering how relevant this is to you, particularly if you aren’t yet pulling off double spocks, shaka takas and whatever else. So before you click elsewhere, let me just say that if you own any type of freestyle board and that includes freestyle/waves, then you should read on.
For those of you who have never tried a proper freestyle fin in your board, you definitely should and here’s why…
Most Freestyle boards are supplied with standard fins that are really just too big for freestyle. They are suited to getting the board planing early, carving performance and straight-line performance. If you own a board with the word ‘freestyle’ in the name, my guess is that you at least have some hope of having a dabble at the odd freestyle move. And if you do, then you are going to benefit from a dedicated freestyle fin. The biggest factor you will notice is that when the board starts to slide, it does so with a lot more ease and without ‘biting’ to a stop. Whether you are trying out your very first Vulcans or competing on the PWA tour, this is one of the most useful assets you can have in a freestyle set-up and the reason you absolutely need to put a freestyle fin in your board if you are starting to attempt sliding manoeuvres.
There are a few drawbacks however and most noticeably it’s the straight-line performance. The fin is a lot shorter and ultimately it therefore has less lift giving the board a feeling of being ‘under finned’ in a straight line. This is where the K4 fin starts to have an advantage. With its extra twist, it seems to offer a bit more grip through the water and tolerance to spin out compared to standard carbon and glass alternatives. The other thing it offers is durability. Lets face it, freestylers are generally posers; and to be a poser means you have to do things in shallow water. Sliding backwards in shallow water is a disaster for fins; traditional laminated fins have a real tendency to split open when they take a knock to the tip, but the advantage of the K4 construction is that they don’t. Sure they are softer and wear down more easily, but they don’t split and are easily sharpened back up with some sandpaper. In fact, at this point, it’s worth setting a few things straight with regard to the construction of K4 fins. Whilst many refer to them as plastic fins, this is perhaps a little unfair, because the construction is somewhat more sophisticated than the term ‘plastic’ would infer. They are in fact manufactured from a plastic/ glass composite, which combines the cost and weight savings of plastic with the strength and durability of glass fibre.
Our test Clones used these fins and were really impressed with them. However, it’s kind of pointless us going into the merits of the top-end performance because it they are good enough to win the UK title and feature in the top 10 of the PWA in the hands of Andy ‘Bubble’ Chambers, then they clearly work pretty well! So we thought it would be more interesting to ask Andy, who helped develop these fins, to give us some more info about what top riders are looking for from a freestyle fin:
So Andy, what attributes are you looking for in a freestyle fin?
Durability, weight, grip and speed.
What has changed over the past five years with regard to what you need in a fin?
Well, before we needed fins that got planing early, but also were short enough to be able to slide and rotate easily. Usually this meant having a super wide and thick fin, which meant it was really slow. Now with the new boards and sails, which plane much faster, we can have much faster thinner less draggy fins. Nowadays we need as much speed as possible for the air moves.
Why is the flex important in a freestyle fin?
A bit of flex is good as it keeps control when in choppy or overpowered sailing. Too much flex and the fins can become sticky and grippy, too stiff and you have no control.
Is the weight difference noticeable?
Obviously the lighter the fin the lighter the tail of the board feels when sailing and doing moves. You notice it massively when sailing a Quad wave board for instance. The tail feels really heavy with the four fins, so by putting in lighter fins you will make it feel lighter under foot.
What sizes fins do you use for what size of sails?
I have been using the 18cm for everything so far. Mainly in my bigger board 100ltrs with all sizes of sail 3.8-5.7. We are now trying out new shapes to see if we can get the 16cm to work better for heavy sailors, choppy water and bigger sails as it loses a bit too much grip at the moment.
How much input have you had into these fins?
As much as possible really! Thorpy knows exactly what he is doing with regards to the scientific bits. I test and give him feedback and we talk about adjusting the shape or foil thickness in different areas to cope with different conditions, riders etc. We give the fins out to a few other key secret (non sponsored) riders to get honest opinions on them as well.
If you are trying to learn freestyle, no matter what level you are and don’t have a dedicated freestyle fin in your board, then you are definitely making things hard for yourself. What K4 offer here is top performing dedicated fin that is durable and also extremely economically priced. Now you know what to ask Santa for!