RE: Drake fins, cheap but not chearful
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).