To be perfectly honest, I've always been a bit skeptical that minute adjustments to the fin settings on a s\alom ski could make a whole lot of difference to the way a ski performs, at least for a skier like me. I ski open water only, usually 22' off at about 31-32 mph (our speed control is not precise at all).
Some of you may recall that last year, I asked for advice on what would be a good ski to upgrade to from my trusty and much loved '06 Monza. I was looking for something that would be better but not ski all that differently so it wouldn't be a big adjustment for me. I do most of my skiing during the 3 weeks I get at my cabin each summer so I don't have a lot of time to spend getting used to a new piece of equipment. Of all the suggestions I got, I went with @MS
's suggestion to go for an HO V-Type and @Horton
's positive review of the ski. Thanks for that @MS
So this June, I got a couple of early weeks skiing on the V-Type using the stock fin settings for the 67" which are below:
With those settings I found the ski to be nice and stable and predictable but it didn't turn as quickly or as easily as my old Monza. The ski was easy to ski but a little sedate and not what I had hoped. A bit boring and ho-hum it seemed.
Right at the end of that 2 week stay I switched so some settings recommended by @savaiusini
which were shallower and longer and the fin and the front binding were a little more forward. Those settings were
Right off I could tell the ski turned easier but the ride was a bit more hairy. I was taking a lot more falls and that's something I don't usually do. It seemed like the ski was hooking up a little at the end of turns and that was pitching me forward causing me to OTF or to nearly go OTF a at times.
On the first ski outing of my 3 week stay at the cabin this summer, I decided to go for a third run which I probably wouldn't have normally done that early in my three weeks but my ski partner dropped out of his last run in some really calm water and I thought what the heck, I'll just drop in and try to make 10 turns or so and call it quits. That turned out to be a bad decision. Just after getting up, I swung out to the left and made a light cut in simulating a gate turn as if I was running a course. I went scooting across and hit the wake. The next thing I remember was coming up out of the water, after having been knocked unconscious or nearly unconncious for a split second. My O'Niell tournament jacket was completely unzipped and almost off me and absoulutely everything from about the waist up hurt, especially my back which hurt like hell. Even my hair hurt it seemed. It was all I could do just to get my ski off and get back into the boat.
My friend who was spotting told me I stuck the tip on the first wake and tomahawked two times. Basically, grip a barbie doll by the ankles, hold its head over water moving about 50 mph and then with a good firm snap of the wrist, smack its face into the wake as hard as you can two times. That's a good description of how I hit the water. I have no recollection of that. All I remember was hooking my gate turn, getting to the wake and then coming up out of the water stunned and in major pain. It was the worst fall I've ever had in over 40 years of skiing by far.
When I got out onto the dock I had to go to my hands and knees 'cause my back hurt so bad. Eventually, I could stand. Our tradition is to follow up every early morning skiing venture with coffee and Bailey's on the dock and for some reason after a couple of those my back seemed to feel a little bit better.
I figured that all I had done was pull some muscles in my back so it was not too serious. It just hurt. I live for those 3 weeks of skiing at my cabin so there was no way I was going to let that crash and a little back pain keep me from skiing if I could help it so I continued to ski for the rest of the vacation albeit relying heavily upon the miracle that is extra strength Vitamin I (Ibuprofen) which I was taking every four hours or so.
A day or two after that bad fall I had another nasty OTF coming out of an off-side turn which also may have knocked me out for a split second or nearly knocked me out. That one also hurt and jarred my back a bit. A day or so after that I had another fall that was jarring to the torso but not an OTF.
All this falling and taking OTFs was very unusual for me as I typically hardly ever fall and when I do it's often only because the rope has popped out of my hands just as I'm finishing a turn. I never take hard falls that hurt or put me at risk of injury but that ski was beginning to scare me and I was starting to fear crossing the wake, especially coming off an off-side turn.
At that point, I decided I needed to change the fin settings (probably should've done it sooner) so I went to the settings @Horton
said that he had preferred on the V-Type. Those were as follows:
So, the front binding a little further back, the fin a little shorter and a little deeper and a bit further back. But each change was only a few hundredths of an inch. How much difference could that possibly make to me? A HUGE DIFFERENCE!
Within two or maybe three cuts on that setup I could sense a huge difference. The ski seemed completely different! It still turned way quicker and easier than it did with the stock settings but I could make the ski do what I wanted, when I wanted and it was now much more predictable and stable feeling than it was on the second set of settings I tried. It was no longer hooking up at the end of turns pitching me forward and somehow I instinctively knew I no longer had anything to fear crossing the wake. All of a sudden, I felt much more comfortable on the ski, my confidence was coming back and my fear/mistrust was disappearing. In that one run, it seemed like my ski and I had figured each other out and we had finally become dance partners. I'm now back to being myself: smooth skiing yet aggressive, leaving it all out there but falling very rarely and rarely taking OTFs or bad falls. Believe me, my back is VERY thankful for that.
Such a profound change coming from such a small adjustment! I never would've believed it before. I do now.