Thursday, November 29, 2012

Black Project Weed Speed - First Impression

Blame it on Dani: after he let me try several of his nice slalom and speed fins, I had to get a few myself. The first one I got was a 25 cm Vector Delta Weed Speed. I used this fin with a 90 l board and a 7.0 sail recently when we tried our new speed slick, and was pretty impressed. It made we want a smaller fin for my 62 l speed board, and a bigger one so that I could use bigger sails and (even) more back foot pressure. I would have bought a couple more Vector fins, but they had some problems with their computers and did not answer my email for a couple of weeks so I looked elsewhere.

Nina had gotten some Black Project fins from Mark Angulo for her wave board, so I checked them out.   Their Weed Speed fin is relatively new, with very few postings on Tom Hammerton, the original developer, had reported about 36 knots in his tests in Hawaii; considering that it's almost impossible to hit 40 knots there since they don't have speed slicks, that is pretty impressive. I also saw another post on the GPS Team Challenge, where Dan_P had hit 36 knots in his first runs on the BP Weed Speeds. That's about 5 knots faster than I have ever sailed, so I went ahead and ordered a couple of these babies. They arrived today by Express Mail - here is a picture of the "28 cm" fin with the 25 cm Vector fin:
The outlines are similar, but the Black Project fin has a different back side and more area. It is about 1/2 inch shorter than the 25 cm Vector fin - Black Project gives the length as "equivalent to a pointer fin of this length".

The fins arrived when we still had a couple of hours before sunset, so I fitted both fins and drove down to Kalmus. Meter readings were showing west wind with averages around 18 mph, with gusts in the low 20s, so I rigged my favorite old 7.0 m Matrix, and took the 28 cm long Weed Speed 34 for a spin on my RRD XFire 90. The chop was reasonably small for Kalmus standards, but speed-flat it was not.

It was a short 30-minute session because the sun went down a few minutes after I started. I was planing about 90% of the time, at times well powered, but never overpowered. The fin impressed me quite a bit. It got me going easily, taking a lot more back foot pressure early on than the smaller Delta 25. My top speed was 30 mph in averages of about 20, with gusts of about 25 (the wind meter readings are a tad low in west wind). For me, going about 20% faster than wind speed in chop is pretty good; even on very flat water, I typically go only about 25% faster than wind speed. Control was excellent, even after small chop hops. Even when putting a lot of pressure on the back foot, the fin refused to spin out. A couple of times, it warned me with a little bit of slipping that I should ease of; that's much nicer than a full spinout, and recovery happened automatically. I finally did manage to get one spinout, but that was at low speed and with a lot of effort; most other fins that I have sailed recently would have spun out a lot earlier. I am sure that sailing this fin with my 7.5 will be perfectly fine, even though the 7.5 has a lot more power than the 7.0,  and even though the Black Project web site lists 6.0 as the correct sail size for the Weed Speed 34.

I'd say that calling the 28 cm deep fin "Weed Speed 34" makes sense - I think it is quite comparable to good a 34 cm pointer fin. I think it is probably more powerful than the Tangent Dynamics Reaper 32 that I'd typically use with the 7.0 on my 110 l freestyle board, but that comparison is flawed since the boards are rather different.

As the title says, these are just my first impressions. Most wind addicts I know love new gear so much that the first impression is almost always very positive, and I think this applies to me, too. It will be interesting to see what the fin can do in flat water and when sailing fully powered - stay tuned!

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