View Full Version : Drake fins, cheap but not chearful

30th May 2007, 01:55 PM
WHY??????? would a company that makes market leading boards, provide such low quality fins?

My 75cm fin from my Apollo is bent 3mm to port.

My 60cm fin from my Hybrid formula is twisted.

My 44cm fin from my Isonic is wider on the starboard side.

Has anyone else had similar fin problems? or am i just very very lucky?

31st May 2007, 03:06 PM
Early last year, the 34 cm fin supplied with my iSonic 105 started delaminating after 3 outings; on top of it, that fin could not take any loading (and I am only 78 kgs!). I believe that the delamination issue was corrected, but not the inability to take any load. SB/Cobra have made some really good fins in the (not too distant) past, but recently most of the fins stink. I think that one way to force SB to address this very frustrating issue woud be for consumers to refuse taking the boards with the fins suppied, and demand a discount from the retailers. The retailers would surely end up doing the same thing, and SB would have to either force Cobra to improve the quality of fins, or stop supplying fins with their boards, and would pass the savings to customers, who could choose the fins they want. Since HyperSonic days, I have normally kept the original fins in the garage, saving them for the day when I will resell the board.

31st May 2007, 03:47 PM
I do totally agree.
Fins supplied with my old 2003 Hypersonic were ugly square things. They were changed the following year with Curtis designs, only made of junk and bent sideways. The Drake pro supplied with my '06 Sonic 95 looks nice but feels unreliable at speed and since I put the real thing under my board (Deboichet) it just waits for resale time.
I think is important to supply good, tested and selected fins with the board in order to give everybody the expected performance right from the start; but if this can not be accomplished for any reason, then it's better not to supply any. Just think if sailmakers were supplying sails together with OEM carbon poor masts with bends not matching the luff curves.

31st May 2007, 11:05 PM
The Drake 40 fin on my Aero 127 was actually useless. I won't really use it anymore as it doesn't do anything well. The 32 weed fin that came with the board seemed ok, but the fitting to the box left a little gap that would not only catch but also trap seaweed so it's useless in my (weedy) area. Hmm.. Generally the fins on my smaller boards (Carve 111 and S-type 115) have been too small so I rarely use them at all. On my bigger Carves they were quite okay.
I really doubt if boards (except for beginner boards) should be sold with any fins at all. If the dealer could keep a range of fins it would be very nice to choose for ourselves. We could also save a little $$$ if we could buy boards without fins and maybe use the ones we have already (I have more than 10 fins in my quiver already). When we buy a rig all the parts are optional. Only beginners will buy a complete rig.
Why not optional fins and straps on boards??
Very few formula sailors (on competition level) I know use the Drake fin on the formula boards. Other brands like Fanatic don't bother to deliver their race boards with a fin.

1st June 2007, 01:00 AM
Ideally manufacturers should deliver boards with good fins, tested to work well with the boards.
Unfortunately very often fins are not quite up to the board's level; either because of build quality and materials, or because they are not a good fit for the board.
This is even more true when considering top line boards like the iS or PA or Extv or Formula. Customers of such boards usually can appreciate and deserve top fins. Well at least Starboard has very good fins going with the wave boards.

1st June 2007, 09:49 PM
Hi Geo,
I find your comment above interesting since in a previous post on advising me regarding the Hypersonic, you had this to say :
"Oh, just another point to think about: take a look at the fins; the 111's Drake/Curtis stock fins can be used on other slalom boards also, while those 105's odd square Drake stock fins are totally useless on other boards. So if the 111 comes with both its stock fins (34 and 42) in good shape, that is something to take into account. This can be a real point in deciding."

Yet above you mention that "Fins supplied with my old 2003 Hypersonic were ugly square things. They were changed the following year with Curtis designs, only made of junk and bent sideways."

I`m just curious as to why you`d say that these fins would be a positive selling point for the Hyper, as they can be used with other boards, yet you say they are complete rubbish in this thread ?

I`ve only sailed the board a few times since getting it (no wind, it`s winter here), but so far have not had ant trouble with spin-out or any other fin issues, despite my heavy-rear-foot style of sailing..

If these fins are really so bad, what would you recommend I change them for. You also mentioned in the Hyper thread that it`s not much use trying different fins on this board, so a) am I stuck with what I`ve got, and b) are they really so bad, will they limit the boards performance etc ??

Looking forward to your comments.


1st June 2007, 10:18 PM
My experience is somewhat different. I have never had a Drake fin that was defective, delaminating, assymetrical etc.

Prior to 2006 model year however, I agree that the usefulness of the supplied fins was dismal. However, in 2006 and especially with the 2007 model boards, the supplied fins are very much improved and work very well. I use the 23cm wave fin in the 2006 P-Acid 80, the suppliied fins in the 2007 iS122, and the new FreeSlalom Swift fins in the S-Type 93 and 104. All the newer fins work very well and do everything as advertised.

Perhaps the new materials and designers that Starboard are employing have made the difference in the quality of fins. But let's remember, specialized fin makers put a lot more time, efort and testing into one specific product. Wouldn't one expect that those fins would be somewhat superior to the fins supplied by a board company?


Ian Fox
2nd June 2007, 03:54 AM
Hi All,

This is always an interesting discussion, and yes it's been around before (maybe a few times), and yes, more importantly, there are always a number of different perspectives and viewpoints.

First up, if a customer has a product with a valid manufacture defect, then obviously the warranty system is in place to deal with that.

Definitely, along the way of producing a large number of fins for a very wide range of models over many years, there have been a few misses. Some caused by manufacturing issues, some because the spec of the fin was so not ideal to the board and some because the riders expectation (or use of the product) did not match the design intention.

There's no doubt performance of the board can be changed and potentially improved by using more specific and higher performance fins, which also are typically rather expensive.

The fin/s supplied with the boards are in general quite a reasonable solution, especially for average use, and the cost adder (and thus saving if deleted at manufacturing level) is not massive, which tends to weigh in favor of continuing to support the majority of the market's preference for a complete "package", rather than board only.

Of course, not everyone (esp on this page) will agree with that - and we wouldn't expect everyone too either.

Customers always have the option of negotiating with their dealer at purchase over a customer "specific" request or preferences like fins or straps.

Cheers ~ Ian

2nd June 2007, 04:44 AM

it's quite obvious. You can use the Curtis type fins that came with the '04 HS on other boards with some success; while those supplied with the '03 model are useless on different boards. The HS seemed to me to be very little fin sensitive but other boards, and expecially slalom boards, are different.
So in the end my answer is obvious. If and when you feel you need to change, change. Otherwise use the supplied ('04) fins. They will work on the HS, and they can also work on other boards. If you'll decide to change, I can not suggest anything for the HS as I don't have experience with the HS and other fins. For different boards, I am happy with the Deboichets I use on my S95 and they are worth their cost.


if price difference is really small I agree with you that it's reasonable to supply the boards with useable fins. But it would be better to supply them with suitable ones. I am not convinced that even a good slalom fin has to cost much more than an cheap one. And by sure if I have to evaluate based on the public list prices of the Drake Pro fins, then it would be much much much better to sell the iSonics with an equivalent discount.

2nd June 2007, 07:30 AM
Hi Ian,

You answered the charge very well, and I believe, very honestly. It's awfully hard to be 100%, especially since we all don't feel the same and have the same needs.

Nevertheless, the finless option, as mentioned by others above, does have a significant degree of merit to warrant serious consideration. It should be noted that the buyer's strength in negotiating a buying decision doesn't necessarily include easy alternatives. With immediately local retailers in a small area, I'm sure that some room to move might be very possible. Yet, in remote locations (with no local shops), especially in cases where you might not be a regular customer, the chances of agreeing to less than production package can be quite a bit tougher.

Maybe brands should mix the game up, particularly with high end models. In other words, formally promote a balance between the "board only option" and complete packages. That way retailers could realistically balance their order requirements without being stuck with product (fins and/or straps) that some folks don't want. Looking at your side of the spectrum, the company can better know and address how to organize and plan subcontractor fin manufacture.

If one was to consider the positive side of the game, and it was found that the company did make the best fin, I'm sure others, even outside the company's mainstream just might want your product. Thereby opening the door to a more premium pricing schedule. Folks always pay more for the best.

2nd June 2007, 03:37 PM
If I want to buy a guitar I can sit down in the shop and play on the different models for three hours or so. If I want to buy a bicycle I can take a trip around the block first, the same with cars, jeans, glasses etc.
If I want to buy a 1300$ windsurfer I have to order it, pay it, cross my fingers and hope for the best... "was I lucky this time?"..
I guess that's a main part of the problem.
My Aero was ordered form Germany to Denmark, so no chance of a "no.. I guess this is not me... can you try to order another one..." conversation with the dealer....

Demos are very rare. If I want to demo two or three different models before deciding I will have to pay or the dealer will have to sell a lot of demo boards with a loss.
On the other hand all dealers might be able to keep a handful of demo fins in their shop. This would help a lot as the fin can actually dramatically change the performance of the board related to the individual rider.
When buying a bicycle you can always choose the standard model from the window, but it's always possible to make other individual options.
If I had had this choice with my Aero none of the standard fins or the footstraps would have been my choice....

2nd June 2007, 03:40 PM
I have no insight in the costs of adding fin at manufacturer level but some educated guessing tell me that it corresponds to something like a third of the list price of the fin. So why not add a super high Q handmade high class brand fin instead (at a third of retail)? Well, because the same equations would not apply and it would be more expensive and the peoepl that like to choose their own fin would still not be happy.

I have no insight in slalom and race fins really. I'm a pure amateur when it comes to these things. For me the standard fins work excellent and despite being somewhat of a fin freak (when it comes to wave boards), I don't want to pay high dollars for slightly better fins for my slalom boards since I sail them only recreationally. The standard fins are nowadays shapes from the best fin designers in the world, its just the layup and manufacturing that differns. Since - as always - the devil is in the details, I perfectly understand that the mass produced fins will not reach the same level as the hand made stuff, but for me - and probably for most customers - they are excellent products.

When it comes to the current wave fins (Drake Naturals) I have not used anything as good - be it standard or hand made. These things are CNC designed and can easily compete with the best out there. They are Mark Nelson designs btw.

The crossover fins are very nice too (also CNC:ed and based on a sucessful Curtis design).

3rd June 2007, 05:33 AM
Been using the stock fins on my HS 111 for several years and they work fine but have supplemented with a range of after market fins. To fine tune the HS you need to find the fin that works best with the sail sizing & type and wind speed. HS is particularly sensitive to fin selection. Pay attention to profile, area, length and tip flex. Get it wrong and the HS is going no where fast. Dial it up and hang on.

3rd June 2007, 03:56 PM
Hi Ian,

You wrote: "The fin/s supplied with the boards are in general quite a reasonable solution, especially for average use" [/quote]
So, an iSonic is for "average use", and should be used with fins that are a "reasonable" (read: "average") solution? Is that how the SB marketing team are positioning the iSonic range? I am sure that Svein will be thrilled.
Seriously Ian, there have been so many complaints for so long in this forum about the slalom fins! it is difficult to comprehend why SB continue to bury their head in the sand , and disappoint their customers. We slalom sailors love the brand and its fabulous iSonic boards, but we can only wish that we could be as happy with the fins supplied with slalom boards, as the wave sailors are with theirs.
I am not a very technical sailor, and for me a good fin is simply one that does not spin out easily, and on the rare occasions when it does, stops doing so as soon as I take pressure off the back foot. Pretty basic stuff, huh? When my board keeps spinning out with the suppiied fin, and stops doing so as soon as I change for another fin, that's when I call the supplied fin "crap". Some of the fins supplied with the iSonics have been indeed "reasonable solutions", i.e. the performance is decent, and the board may be sailed with them without massive frustration, but too many supplied fins have been crap.
JP have a policy that makes a lot of sense: they sell their slalom boards without a fin, but they have one available (at an extra cost) for those customers who do not have already fins that will fit their new board. Why can't SB listen to its customers, and do the same?
Since we are on the issue of fins: I have only had SB boards for years. Last year, I renewed my quiver of boards; I had to sand down many of my fins, because the fin boxes on all the new SB were smaller than on the older ones. How pleasant!

Erik Loots
3rd June 2007, 04:23 PM
Drake Slalom Pro is not that bad... But delamination is a problem with some of these fins if you push them at higher speeds (40 knots)

My conclusion is that you need a smaller Drake vin than in same circumstances b.e. Tectonics.

Drake fins are pretty strong for bumping in ground etc. Drake fins are overall very good. gybing/topspeed/long distance/chop/flat/overpowerd/underpowerd/etc

But just for topspeed and 500m I think the Tectonics are faster.

I have had:

Drake Slalom Pro 28
Drake Slalom Pro 30
Drake Slalom Pro 32
Drake Slalom Pro 34
Drake RACE 34 (hypersonic 105)
Drake Slalom Pro 38
Drake SRB6 40
Drake Slalom Pro 44
Drake RACE 44 (hypersonic 105)

Other brands:

Tectonics Falcon F1 24
Tectonics Falcon F1 26
Tectonics Falcon F1 28
Tectonics Falcon F1 30
Select Lightning Speed 30
Select Lightning Speed 32
Tectonics Goldwing 36

Here are my best 500m speeds in kmh and knots (not all same spot/wind/board/sail etc)

1 Tectonics Falcon F1---30 ---34.88knots
2 Tectonics Falcon F1---28---34.72knots
3 Drake slalom pro-----28---32.61knots
4 Drake slalom pro-----30---31.64knots
5 Tectonics Goldwing---36---30.02knots
6 Drake slalom pro-----32---29.37knots
7 Drake slalom pro-----34---27.97knots

By the way, at the moment I just have 4 drake fins left of the collection, and these will be sold soon. Because my bro (we share equipment) doesnt like isonics (we have iS105 iS135) because they are short. And Isonic need to be driven very powerfull.

3rd June 2007, 07:03 PM
"Average use" and "average solution" ... hmm... I would say this equates to "recreational use"

For me, my iSonic 105 isn't primarily for racing or high speed. It is for recreational use... this seems pretty average to me. Yes, I do use it for racing members of my club. Yes, I do use it to try to attain the fastest speed in my club.

Would I have purchased an iSonic if it had a more expensive fin? That would have increased the cost, and with me being so much lighter than many sailors out there, I wouldn't trust it would be a good fin option for me. That extra cost would have been an inhibitor to the sale, not an asset. I prefer to get a low-cost fin for starters, learn the board and how I ultimately will use it, then I am willing to go out and purchase a better quality fin.

So far, for the iSonic 105, I've been pretty happy with the stock fins. I've just about broken 30 knots in less than ideal conditions. Yes, I know I would probably go faster with a more exact fin. I've been using my iS105 for over a year now, and I'm thinking it is time to shell out the money for a new fin.

What I would like to see is a list of recommended high-quality fins and the general use characteristics. This sort of matrix that broken things down by sailor weight as well as sail size and water conditions would be a useful piece of information. I imagine people who are more competitive than me would like to benefit from the experiences of the people who tested the iSonics during development and thereafter. Of course, nothing beats testing a combination yourself, but at least it would give people a starting point. Then, they could be more competitive earlier in the season by going out and buying fins that will help the board really take off.

Erik, I assume your 34.88 knots was with the iSonic 105? I haven't had much reason to use my 30cm Goldwing yet with my 105. What sail range do you use your Falcon with?

4th June 2007, 12:47 AM
If you're a person like me that has been sailing for a long time, you've got a ton of fins. While I haven't counted them, I probably have at least 30 fins in my quiver. As a result, I would be one of those folks that would focus in on the finless option. What kind of difference in price would exist between the finless option and the complete package? I doubt that it would be much more than 50 USD, if that. Also, in my neck of the woods, there would be almost an 8% tax savings too. Not a huge difference, but still a savings worth considering.

Like I emphasized earlier, the customer would benefit from having a choice (one way or the other), particularly if they're ordering a product in advance of its manufacture. Of course, if they are buying off the rack, they're more or less obligated to accept what's there, or pursue negotiations with the retailer for possible alternatives.

4th June 2007, 02:13 AM
I am quite happy with the Drake fins supplied with my iSonic. I do have some more performance fins for when at Weymouth, WK or The Ray buy when sailing a 220acre pit where there are tons of bricks on the bottom near the edge then the drake fins get used.

I'm not going to be hitting 40kts in the lake so getting 2 fins that are reasonably good is a bargain IMHO.

In the UK the price of a new iSonic is £999 supplied with 2 fins in most of the range.

Compare that to the £1100 that JP are asking for their slalom board supplied with no fin. I'm happy.

Erik Loots
4th June 2007, 03:05 AM
@ o2bnme

Sorry but the 500m record (for me) is set on a Carbon Art Speed 50 board.

I have not used the Isonic 105 in the latest competitions but I have tested:

Tectonics Goldwing 36 Very nice combination! A bit slippery but very fast when well tuned. I do not use the Drake 34 anymore. I use this fin in 12-18knots wind with 6,9 or 7,5 sail.
Tectonics Falcon F1 30 Very Fast!!!!!!!!!!! It surpriced me. I really like the combination. I have only used it once and I hitted a peak speed of 40 knots. Long distance was no option on that surfspot. I would use this fin from 16-30knots wind with 6.3 or 5.7 sail

There is a video for some impression ( o2bnme you have seen it ;))


These fins have raised my speeds, in every course (upwind/downwind/crosswind)
(((I am not sponsord by tectonics or anything else;))))

4th June 2007, 04:44 AM
It's funny, everybody says that the Drakes are decent fins, but no one makes any comments about the Deboichet Designs. I agree that the Drakes are quite often OK fins (with the notable exception of the infamous 34 and 44 supplied with the original HyperSonics), and I will use them occasionally. However if I use the Deboichet Design supplied with the iSonic 105, the board keeps spinning out. That fin does a disservice to this great board; why do not SB stick to the Drake design?
O2bnme, I use my 105 with a 6.6 race sail and a 34 cm Tectonics Goldwing, it's a perfect combination for my 78 kgs, it allows me to really load the fin. However I once mistakenly put my 28 cm Goldwing on the board (still with my 6.6), and the board was still going very nicely (I only had a couple of spinouts during that session); so depending on your weight, sail size and sailing style, your 30 cm Goldwing might work very well on your 105.
Steve, I think that the savings of a "no fins" option would more likely amount to $50 PER FIN, i.e. $100 for 2 fins.

4th June 2007, 01:06 PM
If I get Thierry right, when he says "Drakes" he means the Curtis SR6b design fins, as opposed to the Deboichet design Drake Pro.
I agree with Thierry about the limitations of the Drake Pro (Deboichet): the stock fin supplied with my S95 feels unreliable at speed, like one is on the verge of spinout. The other model, the Curtis design, is described by Ian Fox in former threads as more apt to powered sailing and better at speed. This leads me to other considerations.
Starboard already has available a better fin design for dedicated slalom boards; so why supply such boards, that are advertised as good for performance sailing, with the fins that deliver better low end but less performance instead?
When I bought the S95 I decided to get more fins in order to enhance the board's range of use. At first, I thought to complement the stock 32 fin with similar 30 and 34. After having sailed the board with the stock fin a couple times, I discarded that option and went for 3 "true" Deboichets to be sure I was making no mistakes. If the board was outfitted with the (superior?) Drake/Curtis model instead, maybe I would have decided to buy similar fins and that would have been better for Starboard. So, why?
I remember time ago when most if not all manufacturers were producing slalom boards that derived from what the pros used, only detuned for "general use"; this resulted in unfit boards, with fatter rails that led to lesser control at speed, bigger volumes that meant useless weight and so on. At last, the new racing format of Slalom 42 implies that the pros use production boards and ultimately leads to customers using pro level boards (well I will never believe this is true at materials/weight level too, but at least it is good for the shapes) But it seems to me some manufacturers, and their testers in first, are still doing that old mistake: to think that customers have lesser performance requirements than competing racers. That is not true at all. Probably even the reverse can be true in some cases. Just like good boards sail better than detuned ones, good fins sail better too.

4th June 2007, 02:26 PM
Geo, you got me right, I did mean the Curtis designs when I wrote "Drakes"; sorry for the confusion.
Like you, I have difficulties finding out a reason why SB continue to supply the iSonics with that Deboichet Design fin, when they have a better design. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that both Tiesda and the late Per are lightweight sailors, who do not load the fin very much, and they cannot test the limitations of that fin?
In any case, I have a sailing buddy who is a better sailor than me, and he can make about any piece of windsurfing equipment work (he loves using discarded or old gear, and make it work well); he even uses a 34 cm square fin from the HyperSonic 105! Yet, he has tried, but will not use the Deboichet Design supplied with his Sonic 95 any longer.

4th June 2007, 03:09 PM
Mystery gets deeper...

Funny thing the Drake Pro fins are actually Deboichet licensed designs. I don't think JJD is willing to have his design associated with lesser performing fins, so I have to guess that he did not "downgraded" the design and the main differences between the Drake Pro and the real thing are in materials and build. And I really can not understand this. Because the cost of materials in a fin can not be that much due to small dimensions.
It sounds incredible to me that a good series manufacturing method for fins is nt available. I can even remember that at least in my experience FinWorks produced a rather proficient Pro moulded series out of their Wing designs; and that the former Deboichet and Techtonics design stock fins supplied with my old RRD 281 and 278 slalom boards proved quite nice (even when handed a proto cnc by Roberto for test on my 278, I overall preferred the stock fin for more consistent performance).
Some manufacturer is now offering slalom boards with stock cnc/G10 fins and that may look a solution; but IMvvvHO moulded fins are the way to go with stock fins, in order to achieve consistent durable performance.

10th June 2007, 05:37 AM
Just to be totally honest. Today I swapped boards with another sailor, so I had a chance to test an iSonic 111 with its stock 36 fin. I must admit that the '07 Drake Pro is much changed from the '06 model; not quite like the real thing, but closer and definitely more acceptable. Whether it is worth to supply such fins as stock or not, it is still disputable.

10th June 2007, 10:22 PM

I am totally baffled when people use that expression. Does it mean that whenever you do not use "to be totally honest," it means you are not telling the truth? Lying about something in other posts?!?!?!?

Otherwise, what do the words mean?..why use them?...makes me suspicious.:o


11th June 2007, 03:57 AM
Generally, I share your point of view on this phrase, but not here. Geo took the time to write a new comment on that thread, which lessened the criticism that he (and I) have expressed against the stock fins. He could have been just passive, and not post any comment after trying the 07 stock Drake Pro; by doing this, on the same day that he used that fin, he is totally honest indeed. One rare example when this phrase is used appropriately.


11th June 2007, 01:07 PM
DaveQ wrote:

I am totally baffled when people use that expression. Does it mean that whenever you do not use "to be totally honest," it means you are not telling the truth? Lying about something in other posts?!?!?!?

Otherwise, what do the words mean?..why use them?...makes me suspicious.:o


you're right, one can not be "partially" honest. Nevertheless it is something that is often here used in Italy.
What I mean is that after getting to experience something that I didn't before ('07 Drake Pro) it would not be honest not to amend my previous suggestions. Even if I was honest when I wrote those suggestions, and I could as well avoid to add that last post.