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#930541 - 09/24/06 02:23 PM First-ride review on Blakestah's "Surfboard Trucks"
Shwuz Offline
Miki Dora status
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Registered: 09/26/03
Posts: 3653
Loc: Corpus Christi, TX
For those of you who live in a hole, blakestah is a very talented engineer whose out-of-the-box thinking has brought us the rotating singlefin system, and most recently, the rotating thruster system. I was seriously tempted to try the RFS single, but held back. When he came out with the tri setup, however, I had to pick up a set.

I generally don't ride tris, as I don't like the way they feel when you do anything but turn them. They turn great, but I always felt like the brakes were on as soon as I stopped going rail-to-rail. As described, Blakestahs system seemed to have the necessary qualities to fix that particular problem for me. Within a certain range (I think 1/4" toe in to 1/4" toe out, that right?) this fin system optimizes the fin toe in by allowing them to rotate. Toed in for turns, straight ahead for going straight.

Ok, enough background stuff, time for the review.

Boxes:
First, the boxes are very robustly built, and engineered very elegantly to do what they need to do (rotate the fins, duh)with the fewest number of moving parts. As far as I can tell, there really isn't anything that can break internally to render it unusable. Tolerances are very tight, and it seems unlikely that it could get jammed with sand, unless you stuffed it with mud and let it dry out. The fin attachment itself looks to be pretty bulletproof, and could easily accomodate another fin of your own design, or one of rainbow's stock shapes, as I'm sure they could put the proper tab on whatever shape you would want.

Installation:
I ran into a little trouble on installation, as there is a lip on the top of the box to act as a resin dam. I understood the instructions (and I very well may have misunderstood) to be to install the box before lamination. I could see the potential for bubbles to form under the lam at the square edge of the resin dam, so I beveled it before lamming, but I wound up with some bubbles there anyway. Had I been doing a clear lam, I probably would have seen them and chased them out, but I did an opaque white, so I didn't see them until I sanded it all down. It wasn't any big deal, and an easy fix, but that might be something to think about for future runs, beveling the lip somehow.

As I said, the tolerances on everything were quite tight, so much so that after I had everthing finished, the boxes sat a little lower than flush with the final lam, and the fins rubbed a little when rotating. A few strokes with the sandpaper got everthing fitting right, but better too much material there than not enough.

Setup:
The only real frustration of the whole pre-surf process was trying to get the little rubber bumpers back into the boxes when putting everthing back together for the final fitting. After a few teeth-grinding minutes I did figure out a method, but it was still a challenge to compress the rubber and insert it with the other thingy. The small bits that go between the rubber and the fin shot out at me a couple of times. Once it wound up a solid 25 feet down my driveway, and the other time it tried to damage my face. The good thing is I don't anticipate having to take them in and out too often, so this shouldn't be a frequent aggravation. Again, not a big deal, but when it's the last thing before hitting the water, it seems like torture!

The board:
The stick I put the system in is very similar to my MR-style twinnie. I thought about using a more typical thruster template for this application, but in the end I decided it made more sense to use a template and rocker I am already familiar with and enjoy riding, to better make a direct comparison. The only changes I made was to make the tail a squash instead of swallow, and to soften the rail a little. Everything else is the same as my twinnie.



The conditions:
Not quite head-high on the outside, not quite offshore winds (sideshore, actually), but the swell was pretty solid for around here, the waves were actually peaking up, and it was a pretty damned good day for texas surfing. The forecast called for this one for the last week, so I had rushed this board to get it ready for today. I literally sprayed on the sealer coat an hour before it got wet.

The ride:
This is what it all comes down to, doesn't it? In a word, it was FUN. The kind of fun that leaves you smiling all day long. As I said before, I'm not a thruster guy. This was far and away the best session I've ever had on a Trifin. Actually, one of my two best sessions of 2006.

It was easy to find the sweet spot on this board since I've been riding one so much like it, so I knew what was going on with the very first wave I caught. I caught it, quick pivot to go right, then just rocketed down the line. I honestly could not believe the sensation of acceleration, it threw me so much I almost forgot to turn. But turn I did, layed it back into a deep backside carve, then snapped back around and was flying down the line again, just like that. It was really neat, to tell the truth. And it wasn't like you could say "ok, now the fin is toed in, now it is straight, toed out, etc...". The fins just seemed to be doing whatever needed to be done at that particular moment. Nothing felt odd or forced, it rode very naturally. If I wanted to straight-line it down the face, it was off like a rocket; if I wanted to crank a turn, it was only limited by my abilities; if I wanted to chop-hop a mushy section, it was making drive where I needed it.

And speaking of sections, I took off on a couple of peaks, went right when I should have gone left, and still made it around the wash when I really expected it to eat me up.

The verdict:
From the couple-dozen or so good waves I got on it today, I'm calling it two thumbs WAY up on this fin system. I'm definitely looking forward to spending more time putting this board in more waves, see if I can use it to push my own ability. I would absolutely recommend it without reservation.

Thanks Dave!
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"He played it safe" can be very easily sandblasted into a slick slab of granite.

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#930542 - 09/24/06 08:26 PM Re: First-ride review on Blakestah's "Surfboard Trucks" [Re: Shwuz]
Zeltz Offline
Gerry Lopez status
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Registered: 01/01/06
Posts: 1083
can you post a closeup of the fin area so we can check it out??? Sounds amazing so far

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#930543 - 09/24/06 08:41 PM Re: First-ride review on Blakestah's "Surfboard Trucks" [Re: Zeltz]
kool-aid Offline
Michael Peterson status
***

Registered: 08/28/03
Posts: 1846
Loc: San Francisco
Thanks for the really good, in depth review.

I hate it when people say something is great then don't tell us why.

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#930544 - 09/24/06 08:42 PM Re: First-ride review on Blakestah's "Surfboard Trucks" [Re: Zeltz]
piggydog Offline
Michael Peterson status
**

Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 2321
someone has to try this fin system on a quad.

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#930545 - 09/25/06 03:16 AM Re: First-ride review on Blakestah's "Surfboard Trucks" [Re: Zeltz]
blakestah Offline
Phil Edwards status
**

Registered: 09/10/02
Posts: 6139
Quote:

can you post a closeup of the fin area so we can check it out??? Sounds amazing so far




This is a different board, identical fins to Schwuz'



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#930546 - 09/25/06 05:24 AM Re: First-ride review on Blakestah's "Surfboard Trucks" [Re: blakestah]
Doug93003 Offline
Michael Peterson status
**

Registered: 07/08/03
Posts: 2138
Loc: Ventura
Does having a gap between the bottom of the board and base of the fins matter?
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I've been told many times on this BB that fins drag so i am no longer using them. -Greg Griffin

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#930547 - 09/25/06 06:49 AM Re: First-ride review on Blakestah's "Surfboard Trucks" [Re: Shwuz]
norway_surfar Offline
Nep status
**

Registered: 04/23/06
Posts: 675
Quote:

I generally don't ride tris, as I don't like the way they feel when you do anything but turn them.




what else is there to do but turn?


Edited by norway_surfar (09/25/06 08:15 AM)

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#930548 - 09/25/06 07:49 AM Re: First-ride review on Blakestah's "Surfboard Trucks" [Re: Doug93003]
blakestah Offline
Phil Edwards status
**

Registered: 09/10/02
Posts: 6139
Quote:

Does having a gap between the bottom of the board and base of the fins matter?




1/8" or less will make no difference at all.

More than 1/4" and the fin action will be destroyed.

Never had problems with this, even on prototypes, I could easily keep the gap under 1 mm, even making the boxes by hand (3 mm is about 1/8"). In production it is a lot tighter, the only reason you can see gaps in the fins in the pic is that I haven't made a really nice jig so Rainbow can make the fin tab precisely perfect every time. Another place improvement is coming, the little stuff....all needs to be tight.

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#930549 - 09/25/06 08:24 AM Re: First-ride review on Blakestah's "Surfboard Trucks" [Re: blakestah]
Aku Offline
Nep status
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Registered: 06/21/05
Posts: 729
Looks like it'd fun to try a set sometime. How much will they cost? Also, does the center fin pivot also, or just the sides?

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#930550 - 09/25/06 08:28 AM Re: First-ride review on Blakestah's "Surfboard Trucks" [Re: Aku]
Aku Offline
Nep status
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Registered: 06/21/05
Posts: 729
BTW- Shwuz, that board is KILLER looking.

Is that a center stringer or just a cosmetic strip down the middle? Just wanna know if you're promoting shear movement or not....

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#930551 - 09/25/06 08:31 AM Re: First-ride review on Blakestah's "Surfboard Trucks" [Re: Aku]
blakestah Offline
Phil Edwards status
**

Registered: 09/10/02
Posts: 6139
Quote:

Looks like it'd fun to try a set sometime. How much will they cost? Also, does the center fin pivot also, or just the sides?




The cost is $75 plus shipping, although there are a limited number left, and we're making final changes in design before doing a MUCH larger run. Better to sort out the little stuff first...so it is a little premature to be taking large numbers of orders. Everything was designed to transition easily to large production, hopefully it will work out that way.

Currently all three fins can rotate. All three fins can be fixed into standard thruster positions. I recommend the rail fins be allowed to rotate, and the rear stay fixed. But if you are into obsolete technology, you can fix all three fins and ride a thruster.

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#930552 - 09/25/06 10:16 AM Re: First-ride review on Blakestah's "Surfboard Trucks" [Re: blakestah]
Aku Offline
Nep status
**

Registered: 06/21/05
Posts: 729
Does that include the fins also? What are base/height dims on those fins? All same size?

I know... lotta questions, but this is interesting stuff....

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#930553 - 09/25/06 10:56 AM Re: First-ride review on Blakestah's "Surfboard Trucks" [Re: Aku]
blakestah Offline
Phil Edwards status
**

Registered: 09/10/02
Posts: 6139
Quote:

Does that include the fins also? What are base/height dims on those fins? All same size?





fins are all 4 5/8" deep 4 5/8" base width. Rail fins are single foiled with a rounded leading edge. Rear fin is double foiled.

Price includes fins.

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#930554 - 09/25/06 11:22 AM Re: First-ride review on Blakestah's "Surfboard Trucks" [Re: blakestah]
Aku Offline
Nep status
**

Registered: 06/21/05
Posts: 729
Cool, thanks Blakestah!

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#930555 - 09/25/06 12:00 PM Re: First-ride review on Blakestah's "Surfboard Trucks" [Re: blakestah]
Boards_and_Fins Offline
Michael Peterson status
**

Registered: 08/25/04
Posts: 2652
Loc: Everglades City
Quote:

Quote:

Does that include the fins also? What are base/height dims on those fins? All same size?





fins are all 4 5/8" deep 4 5/8" base width. Rail fins are single foiled with a rounded leading edge. Rear fin is double foiled.

Price includes fins.




Are you planning on working on a quad set up yet? That would be killer in a fins back quad kneeboard.
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