It feels heavier or lighter. It feels quicker or slower. They are the comments that you hear all the time not matter if you are talking about shoes, cricket bats, golf clubs or SUP boards, fins or paddles. Feel has a lot to do with our suggestions and our purchases. For those that know me they will no doubt agree that I am the furtherest away from being a technical type of person. Lift, drag, foils all confuse the bejesus out of me. For me I want to know, does it feel fast/slow, does it feel heavy/light.
When it comes to everything SUP generally we are talking about fast and light. Recently we had Chris Ting of VMG Blades in our backyard wielding some utterly beautiful looking fins of his. Chris has an extensive background in developing fins for wind surfing purposes and, like many of us was bitten by the SUP addiction, he turned his talents to fins for racing and downwind SUP. Despite the high popularity of his product, Chris was able to get me one of his Mako Time Trial fins for review. This is one of three fins that are produced by VMG Blades and it's specifically designed for flatwater sprints and time trials. The other two are both slightly larger than each other and are designed for downwinding and general all round use. These fins are being extensively used in competitions by Aussie's Beau O'Brian, Terrene Black and Trevor Tunnington.
If you are a tab data nerd and would love to read some more data about these babies then make sure you head on over to the soon to be re-released VMG Blades website. Chris has collected a significant amount of data that shows just how efficient his fins are. Geek on!! For those that completed Maths in Practice, the end result is that with less drag, more efficient use of effort, maintaining a straighter line over a longer distance will result in a much better result.
This is going to be a pretty simple type of review. I will be using the following criteria - Quality & Finish and Feel. Pretty self explanatory really.
Quality & Finish
Have you ever purchased something that is meant for a certain task and you ending up spending the first couple of days with it just sitting on your desk so that you can stare at it because it is beautiful? No, well that is what I did with this fin. It sat on my desk, on top of it's fantastic looking zipped fin sleeve just looking good. Second question, have you sat the previously mentioned item on said desk and had people stop and ask you what it is? That is what this fin also did. People I didn't know or hadn't seen for the entire time I have worked here. Weird.
Back on track though, this fin is very well constructed. The finish has no blemishes or pitting and is smooth as a babies bum while the leading edges look like they could inflict harm if mishandled. It is also so damn light, but that will be covered more in the 'feel' section.
The only issues/gripes that I came up with was that the base of the fin required some sanding in order to get the fin into the fin box of the Javelin LE. The other thing was that the screw and plate were difficult to get to some sort of agreement. My solution to that was to swap out the one provided for a slightly longer screw that didn't require so much force for it to grab the plate.
I am pretty sure that everyone will be able to live with those very minor issues. If you can't then you have got problems.
As stated I am not a tech or science minded person. If you start talking to me about drag coefficients or the like you will quickly see me glaze over and nod uncontrollably. That is my brain checking out and going to Homer's Land of Chocolate. If you hand me said item and tell me to try it out I am much more at home. Chris is nodding knowingly right now. So that is what we did. I had only paddled the new 14 x 26 Naish Javelin LE a couple of time previously so it still felt different. The first thing that Chris mentioned was that the board may not feel as stable or at the least a bit twitchy. I didn't experience any of that. What I immediately felt was that the board just wanted to surge forward. To put it another way it no longer felt like there was weed wrapped around my fin, no drag. The board just seemed to want to roll on paddle after paddle. A lot more glide. In addition I was able to get more strokes in per side which also translates to improved tracking. The board still step turns easy as well.
Let me reinforce that this is all how the fin made the board feel in direct comparison to the stock fin, I have no hard data to show speed etc.
Would I buy one? Hell yes, and I did. After testing it on our time trial course I had to have one. Luckily Chris found one for me which has allowed me to keep reviewing it and constantly comparing it to the stock Naish Race Fin. With changing them in and out I am now convinced that the VMG Blades Time Trial fin has made a definite improvement to the overall feel of the board with no loss in performance.
If you are looking for a new fin for your board then go out and spend your hard earned on this. They are manufactured excellently and if you are looking for something that just feels good then this is it.