Board Mag Tests ???
I`m pretty convinced that board tests (especially in 125 litre+ market) are just as much a test of the fins than the boards themselves.
Eg 07 Tests of Tabou Rocket and Goya FXR
Tabou Rocket (125 litres) was found to go upwind along lines of a Formula (their quote) but feel quite directional.It could also handle a sail of upto 8.5 metres .
The Goya on the other hand was found to be far more"playfull;not as good upwind;later planing but jumped and carved better.They reckoned biggest sail was 7 (ish)
Boards are within a couple of cm in width; Goya a bit longer)
Now the good bit; the Tabou was fitted with a 46cm Slalom fin and the Goya with a 36cm MFC(Which I reckon offers less drive than my Northshore 32)
Its a bit like testing 2 cars and saying one outcorners the other but its fitted with slicks ???
Why not test the boards with a fin which matches the sail size ???
How on earth is anybody supposed to draw any conclusion which such a blatant disregard for objectivity? How would Goya go upwind with the 46 ??? How playfull would Tabou be with the 36??
Good point. At the very least, one could hope that the testers commented on the fin difference as possible explanations and preferable also did a few test runs with different fins.
When I test my boards, I always try them with a big variety in fin sizes and styles since this is really the only way get a feel for the performance spectrum of the board.
In defense of the board tests, testing both in different conditions, with different fins and sails results in a combinatorial explosion of different options, ie not always practically possible to do.
In an ideal world there would be massive testing for all new gear: a "consumer reports" approach. No advertising in the magazine.
Magazines who produce board test for their readers, I suspect, want to be fair but must consider trashing their advertisers product may mean alienating an income stream. On the other hand what are the alternatives for advertising without magazines?
The fin issue for board performance is huge. Used to be fins were afterthoughts for board producers: give them something but we know most will buy an after market fin anyway. Today the fins you get with a new board usually are very good. Big improvement to board packages of yesteryear.
So a board review in any magazine gives you an opinion about performance right out of the box. Doing more testing to find the right fin to make a board perform better upwind would overwhelm a magazine test. Hell, isn't this what racers do? Spend a zillion dollars on fin quivers to gain a performance edge on the race course.
The fin is so important to a board's performance upwind and for early planing that comparing 2 boards with different fin lengths of more than 4 cms. seems unfair. But the insight from the first post is what is needed to read between the lines and get the most out any review you read in any magazine. Testing budgets for magazines will only take you so far...
Perf right out of the box may be interesting for some models such as freerides, but not so for other models such as slalom/speed where sailors tend to trim and outfit the boards in order to squeeze out all the possible performances.
I like reading PlancheMag tests in order to have a rough idea, but I don't trust them completely as I see many confused items. I would like them to test all the slalom boards with aftermarket fins. If I was in their shoes, I'd take a range of good fins (Deb SL2 or Elite) to test boards with even fins. Well it would actually take two sets of fins to make head to head comparisons...
This is a topic that I find quite interesting, and I appreciate the fact that Floyd brought it up. No question in my mind that fins will affect the performance attributes of any board out there, yet I think that the basic premise of most magazine board tests is to test with the stock fin(s). There's clear merit to this, if only because it represents the complete retail package concept offered by the brand. Nevertheless, one wonders how much direct input that the board designer/shaper has in determining the design and quality of the stock fin(s) that's ultimately matched with the board.
In contrast to conducting board testing with the stock fin, it would be very informative and undoubtedly more revealing to conduct a test using a single "aftermarket" benchmark fin that's recognized as one of the best in the industry. I think that would lead to a more unbiased outcome that would say more about the character and the particular attributes of a board's design and performance. Although it wouldn't remove the subjectivity that's always inherent in board testing, it would improve the credibility of the test model.
All above very good points.
Agree that boards should be tested as supplied but the choice of fin given with the board probably has a bigger influence over boards character than the board itself; especially when there is such massive difference in fins; on boards essentially sold towards same customers.
I sail the FXR mentioned.Findings of mag are much as I find board untill I stick a massive fin in it (like the one supplied with the Tabou) The board`s entire character changes.Its more directional; goes upwind better and planes earlier (as you would expect) problem is how would it compare with the Tabou.
If we were only talking about diffferent fin styles problem wouldn`t be as pronounced but when we are talking of comparing two very similar sized boards carrying fins with a difference in area approaching 40% (my estimate; I happen to have both fins) it totally overides any possible differences in the boards characters.The test was testingt fins.
We would ridicule a test that said one board was an early planer but forgot to mention it was carrying at least 30% more sail; yet we accept it with fins??!!!
The Tabou has got a reputation for being an early planer ; probably on the back of that massive fin supplied ??? But the problem is it is probably ; we dont know even after reading the tests.
Would the FXR carry an 8.5 if it had a 46cm fin ??? Yet again ; no idea.
Its certainly not very good testing.
Perhaps fins should be supplied with rigs and not boards !!!
If boards are being tested with 7 metre rigs the appropriate fin size for that sail should be used in all the boards.(Perhaps a 38cm for a 7 ???)
I absolutely agree that fins radically can change the character of the board.
I do think that we to a large extent can thank the board tests for the increase in stock fin quality! There really is an incentive to equip the boards with decent fins in order to do well in tests.
On another note: the most typical complaint on this and other forum about board tests is "how on earth could they say anything sensible about a board with that little time on the water". If they would complicate the testing process by having 3-4 different fins to try out, then what...
And at the end of the day the designers and brands decide what kind of package they want to produce, and what market segment they go for. Some, like Goya, want to produce turny boards, others like Tabou want to go for light wind performance. Don't blaim the magazines, but go instead and tell your favourite brand that they have lost it in the fin department.
No thats not my point at all PG.
Fact of matter is that fin size and shape etc can (and does) radically alter performance of any board. If we test a board and then draw up conclusions which are more attributable to fin choice then the board test was somewhat pointless.
I just dont see how any worthwhile conclusion/comparisons can be made between two boards when they are carrying such radically different fins.The tester couldn`t differentiate between characteristics attributable to the board or those derived from the fin; so how could any reader ?? If its worth carting the gear all the way to Egypt surely its worth standardising fins !(or at least size/area.) In years to come we will look back and say yes it was barmy !
Besides how can testers then recommend a largest sail size without trying board with a bigger fin ??
BTW I dont have a favourite brand.Nobody should have.I like certain boards within most manufacturers offerings.
I think two things are at play here. First, it is reasonable to demand that manufacturers supply a good fin that suit the board, ie is a good all round fin for the board both in terms of sail sizes and in terms of type of sailing. It is also reasonable that magazines first and foremost test the boards with that fin. The only alternative to that would be if boards were not delivered with fins anymore. Since OEM fins nowadays are very good and the price the end customer pays for having them delivered with the board is MUCH lower than the price of a comparable aftermarket fin, I think this option would be stupid.
The other thing at play is that to "fully" characterize a board, one need to test how it responds to different fins. It's just as important as testing with different sails and in different conditions.
But I think standardizing size/area is going to far. Even within rather narrow groups of boards and with a given sail and rider, two different board designs can work their best with different fins. I think it is reasonable to let the manufacturer chose the "main fin". Then testers need to get more open about the fin choice and how that might reflect the performance and preferably also do at least some testing with different fins. That would be reasonable even within the limited time available.
In the end, why do we read board tests? We assume that testers are skilled enough to tell us how the board goes. I think it's up to them to determine which fin type best suits one board; it would be nice for them to actually test the board with such fin type too, and let us know the outcome. Do the tuning for us and give us some good advice.
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