I have this Oke Surfboards 7"2 single fin that I like to surf down here in Vicco from time to time. She comes out on when the vibe is right as the relationship between us has been on and off lately and I haven't been able to put my finger on what has been causing the tension.
For the purpose of this story, let's call her Sasha, the sultry 7'2.
Sasha has been out in shoulder high reef runners, fat mushy walling points and easy take off beachies that give you a chance to get in position for the cylindrical experience all the way to the close out.
Sasha has little sweet spots that turn on in all of the above conditions, you just have to switch your style up to match. The only time I have never felt full confidence in Sasha is when driving from the back end. Sasha loves for me to get on the front foot and fly but when it's time put weight through the tail I just can't connect!
After some online scoping, I finally came across Alkali. The brand Alkali was familiar to me due to my eyes frothing out on the now deceased Foam Symmetry Magazine. I didn't really know much about the brand apart from their ads in the mag but this is what they have to say about themselves online.
Here at Alkali, we create original, premium quality handmade fins for people who love surfing. All our fins are foiled by hand, from fiberglass panels we make the old fashioned way, in a humble little factory on the North Coast of New South Wales, Australia. Our focus is giving new life to fin templates that have stood the test of time, and getting the best from modern designs by using the premium materials and proven techniques.
The words got me hooked were hand made fins, humble little factory on the North Coast and premium materials.
The online purchase process was easy and safe and I actually liked receiving the email that said ' be patient, we have to hand make these things'
Two weeks roll past and I nearly forgot about the fins until Mr postman dropped off the package of fiberglass and resin. From first inspection, the template is nice and fat with plenty of body, the finish is absolutely immaculate and the fin itself seems to have to be seriously stiff.
The first test for the Alkali Classic Single was at a pretty cruisy beach break, easy take off, little wall on the bank, speed out into the fat section over deep water, straighten up and then set your line for the inside section. Being a goofy footer on this left bank felt perfect, the board hums were it should and drove when I wanted. In terms of the fin, the harder I pushed the more power and strength I felt I had compared to my previous concerns. Now remember this session was all about testing the fin, so I may be over analyzing but I felt like I had more trust in holding onto an open face turn with the stiffer fin. The fin is stiff at the base but still has flex and release throughout, so dont think this thing is just straight piece of fiberglass. The 8"0 fin is in the back end of the box and at the moment feels pretty good where it is. I'm keen to try this stiffer fin in a wave with a bit more consequence, a wave that forces you to grab the rail and lock into the pocket, forcing the board and fin to work in unison, creating that moment when you have to be a passenger and trust your equipment.
As I bigger guy, I feel I need the stability in the fin to throw my weight into. I also ride a 6'6, 7'0 and 9'6 with different levels of skill and style, but after taking some time in the fin department, I feel I have worked out some of the uglier parts of my surfing. Dropping in on my back hand on a fast sucky wave like the Goldy needs me to bury my arse in the face, drop my back knee and trust the board and fins to work together to get me through that section. If you are light on your feet and can ride a door with style like my friend Will, then diving into fin size and design might not be necessary, but if you feel good with your board but aren't quite linking those turns or sliding that tail right then maybe have a look at your fins. Whilst you are at it make sure you have a look at www.alkalifins.com for your thruster, twin, single, mid or log.
I also got a set of the Tab Drive Thrusters made, I'm going to live with these guys for a while, put them through a proper test and get back to you with my notes.