Find out why these might be the most popular fin on the market
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 25 December, 2017 - Foil, rake, template, materials… there’s a lot going on in the world of fin design and a lot of fins out there on the market. For those of you curious about how a specific sets of fins work and why, we’ve fired up a design blog by fin guru Chris Hough of Finatic. In each design blog he’ll talk about a different set of fins and explain why they work the way they do. In this instalment he looks at the Rob Machado signature fins by Futures.
Today we’re going to discuss the Futures Fins Rob Machado Signature Fin. There are many reasons we decided to discuss the Rob Machado Fins first and not one of them was the fact that they are the most “popular” fins in the Finatic Fin Testing Program. The Machado’s currently carry a 26.5% popularity rating in Finatic, which is incredible. Basically over ¼ of our members are testing or want to test the Future Fins Rob Machado Signature fins.
With this in mind, the reasons we originally wanted to review the Futures Fins Rob Machado Signature Fins were that the Rob’s are a Medium fin; that they’re a “Black Stix” model that have Futures Fins highest Ride Number; that they’re a longstanding fin who’s template and material have never changed; and that they’re unique, because of the Bamboo inlay. Finding out they were the number one most popular fin in Finatic was just a bonus. It is however interesting that the fin set that intrigued us the most is the same exact set that intrigue our members the most.
The Rob Machado’s only come in one size and one material. They’re considered part of the “Black Stix” family and are a medium fin, so for the discussion at hand we don’t have to worry about different sizes or materials which will most certainly complicate future fin discussions as most fins come in several sizes and materials. Being a medium fin gives the Rob Machado’s great surf appeal because a “lighter” surfer could add more drive, while a “larger” surfer could loosen up a stiff board. This leaves the obvious; the “medium” surfer, the one whom these fins are recommended for. Other important stats to note while moving forward is that this template took Rob and Futures approximately 12 – 16 months to develop, they were released in Spring 2011 and have never had a material or template change.
When talking fins in general; we have discovered that the industry standard for “Surface Area” of a fin refers to one side of a fin. We think it’s more relevant to multiply this number by 2 when looking at a fin you might be interested in because a fin obviously has two sides, which both come in complete contact with the water. When applied to the Rob’s we see that we’re talking about 89.40 sq. inches of surface area touching the water.
Total Rob Surf Area Equation = Front Fins (15.23 x 2 sides x 2 fins) + Rear Fin (14.24 x 2 sides)
This is one of the main reasons an 1/8 of on an inch in height or base on a fin can drastically change your surfing, because it in turn can drastically affect how much more (or less) total surface area you have touching the water, depending on fin template.
Something else to note with the Rob’s in particular is that they have a much smaller trailing fin, 6.5% smaller to be exact. Think about that in perspective to your board. We all know an inch, or two to the length of your board can mean the difference in making a drop. Apply that same logic here and one can clearly see that having 1.98 sq. inches in surface area missing from your trailing fin or “pivot point” is absolutely going to affect how your turns feel. Some may like the added benefit of a smaller trailer as in this case, while others will find that they want the extra control a standard (same sized) trailing fin offers.
Smaller Rob Trailing Fin Equation = Front Fin Area (15.23 x 2 sides) - Rear Fin Area (14.24 x 2 sides) = 1.98 sq. in. smaller
The Robs come in Black Stix and are made with an Epoxy resin, which is extremely interesting. Epoxy has much different flex characteristics than standard fiberglass. Think about boards, if you’ve ever ridden an epoxy you know how they seem more “skatey” and in some cases, they don’t “bite” the wave when you’d like them to. When talking with Futures, it became clear that it was the Epoxy combined with the Bamboo core on the Rob’s that gave them a 10 on the ride number scale and what ultimately created one of Futures Fins most “lively” fins.
All Future Fins “Black Stix” are Vector II foil, again something we’ll dive into greater detail in a future article, for now what you need to see in the below snapshot is the concave inside of the fin (outside fins) combined with a flat tip. In short, the concave will help you generate speed, while the flat tip will help give you the “release” that you’re used to with a traditional, “flat foiled” fin. At one point a while back I surfed a “Vector I” foiled fin where the concave does NOT flatten out at the tip and I was AMAZED at how I was unable to get the fins to release off the top. “Vector I” foiled fins are fast, but definitely suited to long drawn out turns. A flat tip is key when it comes to keeping the fins in check with what you’re used to in a flat foiled fin.
The last thing we need to look at is the template the Rob carries. While template does include the “foil” as discussed in the previous paragraph, it more traditionally refers to the sweep of the fin along with the size of the base and tip. I was told that designing the Robs was a bit of a goose chase, because Rob rides so many different fins and boards, there wasn’t a clear starting point, but what he ultimately landed on is a fin similar to the Future Fins EA, which is a well very balanced template. However, there seems to be a bit more volume along the leading edge of the fin and a slightly smaller tip than average, but everything else seems to line up with the template being very well balanced.
How will all this affect your board and your surfing in the real world? You can view some Finatic reviews below and find out. FYI: The Rob Machado fins currently carry an average of a 4 “fin rating” out of a possible 5.
As you can see here, I intentionally chose a marginal review to look at, (3 fin rating) because there’s some interesting input here. Will W. seems to be a more advanced surfer and while he’s at the low end of the weight range listed on the “Medium” Robs, they are technically the right sized fin for him. Therefore, given what we know about fin size, we might expect these fins to be to “stiff” for Will, however, we find that the opposite is true! He thought the fins were to loose! Now, think about what we’ve discussed. The Rob’s feature a smaller trailer, utilize epoxy, feature a Bamboo Core and the Futures Ride Number system lists them as one of their most “lively” fins. I would argue here that Will is not used to his fins being so “lively” and the smaller trailer may not be giving him the drive he’s used to. However, I also think Will is subconsciously aware of this fact as he actually recommends these fins to other surfers that have a looser style.
I am going to take a moment to quickly highlight a few other reviews, before we finish up by looking at one last review in its entirety. When looking though all the reviews on the Rob’s I found it interesting that, Ryan H. who is 181 lbs. found the fins to be “Very Flexy and Fragile”. While less experienced than Will, (from the previous paragraph) Ryan came to roughly the same conclusion, however he only gave the Rob’s a “2 fin” rating. In my opinion the liveliness of the fins was amplified do to Ryan’s added weight and his ability to push harder on the fins, which created a situation where they were not the best fit for his style of surfing. By contrast I found another review where a 160 lbs. Matthew S., gave the Rob’s a perfect “5 fin” rating and said that the Rob’s were, “A perfect fit for my board and light footed style”. Which based on what we know this makes perfect sense, a “light footed”, medium sized surfer should love the “liveliness” of the Robs!
Last, I’ll leave you with Joseph L.’s review, because he states the Rob’s are, “A great all around fin.” Again, exactly what we’d expect to see, because of the balanced template. This notion is further reinforced when we look at the fact that Joseph admits the Rob’s are “Good in steep pounding beach breaks and in point breaks.” This review is perfect, it’s coming from a slightly above average surfer at the low end of the “Medium” weight range, who tried the Rob’s at multiple locations, featuring multiple wave types.