Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Buying speed fins in the USA

After buying a speed board and a slalom board in the last year, I wanted to buy some proper fins, too. The speed board came with three speed fins, but they are all about the same size; the slalom board came with one fin that works well with the 8.5 m sail, but needs a smaller fin for smaller sails. Here's a short story of my adventures trying to get fins...

I started by checking out the two local stores, but they more or less just had weed fins. Trips to stores in the Gorge were similar disappointing. So I posted on a couple of windsurf forums (iWindsurf and gps-speedsurfing.com), and got a few pointers. With some more research and web site checks, I found a couple of places in the US and Canada to order fins from.

The first place was very helpful initially, but I received only half of my order (a sail) - the fin I ordered never came. After a few emails, I got my money back without problems, but I still did not have a fin. I eventually found a couple of close-out fins that looked attractive, and bought them online. Delivery was no problem, and I love one of the two fins (a 28 cm Select) I got. I only tested the other fin (MFC Slalom 32) once and did not like it much then, but I'll have to give it another shot.

After sailing my new (used) 118 l slalom board with a 7.0 sail recently, it was obvious that the 44 cm pointer fin I have is a bit big for this sail, so I looked for something fast around 36 cm. I discovered Makani fins, and remembered hearing great things about their freestyle fins. There also was a blog entry about their slalom fin that sounded quite promising - and the fins cost much less than other speed fins, so I decided to give it a try. I ordered the fins online from the same place where I had found the last two fins. A couple of days later, I got an email with a tracking number, and another email with an invoice.

When I checked the invoice, I was shocked: it listed my complete credit card information - billing address, card number, expiration date, and even the security code that merchants are not allowed to store at all. All send as a PDF file via regular email - something that goes through several public mail servers and is by definition totally insecure.

WTF were they thinking? I think this is a serious issue. If they are stupid enough to send full credit card info by regular mail, how safely do you think their computer system is? The only reason I'm not mentioning the store's name is that I do not want to point hackers towards their computers...

So, in my two attempts to get slalom/speed fins, I was successful only once (assuming that the fin I ordered arrives in a few days), but at a pretty high cost to the security of my credit card. With both merchants, there were a couple of other minor things that went wrong when trying to order from them that I don't want to bore you with. Normally, I can understand if someone with a passion for windsurfing is a bit spacey when it comes to business - but there are limits. Next time, I'll bug our local merchants a bit more to see if they can order fins; or perhaps get them from a store where I know the owners personally, like Wind-NC. But if anyone has recommendations where to buy speed fins in the US, please let me know!

1 comment:

  1. Drop me a line if you are still having trouble finding fins, have quite a few in my quiver from speedsailing here in the Northwest.