Fin adjustments for wake crossing / tracking

HortonHorton Posts: 27,198 Administrator
edited April 2015 in Skis Fins Bindings
One of the advantages of running this web site is access to some very smart people. One of the things I picked up from these smart guys in the last year is that fin settings have a lot to do with what happens at the wakes and on the way to the ball line. Traditionally most of us all talk about fin settings only in terms of what happens at the ball.

I am not an expert on this subject but what I know and how I think about it is as follows.

The more fin you have in the water the less the ski slides down the course. If all you care about is cross course speed and direction you would think you want a LOT of fin. 2.530 deep and 6.950 long! Ok that is an exaggerated amount of fin but you would be surprised how much fin some pro skiers run. I tried the settings given to me by a pro a few weeks ago and it was 2.535 deep. Typically one of the good things about a lot of fin is a very smooth off side finish assuming your center of mass is pretty far forward.

Unfortunately too much of a good thing is a bad thing. The one thing that I notice with too much gross surface area is that the load at my core is more than I can deal with. Because the ski is sliding with the boat less=> the boat is simply pulls my hands way from my core. The ski simply has too much grip at the wakes. Take away some depth or length and the side slip of the ski absorbs more of the boats power and I can stay more connected.

The other bad thing about too much fin is it increases drag. So if you are mega strong and have pro skier skills more fin may get you out to the ball early and then slow you down fast. On the other hand a smaller fin will make you faster cross course but will slow down less.

Take all this in addition to the old rules of thumb about how to adjust for the turns and you will see that there are a lot of choices and they are all compromises.

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  • WayneWayne Posts: 453 Baller
    @Horton where do the factory settings fall into this and are the factory settings adjusted depending on the target audience a ski company has in mind for their different models?

    I dont know all the factory settings but take Radar for example. In general they have a shape that they like and adjust width to an intended speed range (I'm probably generalizing a bit using Radar as an example but it is a simply way they explain the differences in their line up, or at least the did a few years ago).

    Do manufactures take fin surface area away if the ski is assumed to be used by less experience skiers to help with cross course speed and maintaining speed at the ball? Do the 36 MPH skis get starting settings that have more fin area because it is assumed stronger skiers will be using them?

    As you stated it brings another "rule" to the many that already exist but it makes me want to experment a little more since I'm usually apprehensive to move a fin much for length or depth (heck I don't move my fin much at all).
  • HortonHorton Posts: 27,198 Administrator
    edited April 2015
    @Wayne most factory settings are on the conservative side of gross fin size (I think). As for lower level skiers, I do not think this is as critical or can even be felt until the rope is semi short.

    Furthermore this is pretty esoteric stuff that I am not sure everyone even at an pro level agrees with.

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    Barts ★ Connelly ★  DBSkis ★ Goode ★ Hobe Lake ★ HO Syndicate 

    MasterCraft ★ Masterline ★ MOB ★ Performance Ski and Surf ★ Reflex ★ Radar ★ Stokes

  • BRYBRY Posts: 582 Crazy Baller
    When I was getting my Vapor set up I spoke with Rini at a tournament. He said though his and the Rossi settings were quite different they were pretty much the exact same surface area. I thought that was an interesting comment, unexpected.

    @Horton What/how do you think edge length/bevels/torsional stiffness factors in? They are a big deal in Alpine skiing. More edge length usually equates to more hold with less pressure.
  • ToddLToddL Posts: 2,787 Mega Baller
    "there are a lot of choices and they are all compromises.". No truer words have ever been posted by @Horton
    -- The future of skiing depends upon welcoming novice skiers regardless of age to our sport.
  • AdamCordAdamCord Posts: 703 Open or 55K Rated Skier
    @Horton that sounds like nonsense, who could possibly have told you this insanity?
  • Than_BoganThan_Bogan Posts: 6,353 Mega Baller
    Hm, you're making me think seriously about LESS fin surface area. Long arms with patented weaktastic style means I can't hold much. Maybe giving up some potential angle for better body position could be a win.

    We'll see if I can remember to try this a bit later in the year when I might actually be able to tell if it works...
    Nathaniel Bogan -- GUT Padawan
  • bigtex2011bigtex2011 Posts: 454 Crazy Baller
    @Horton. great topic. I know a little. that has worked for me. I used to sleep with a caliper in my hand and I've been fortunate enough to bounce a few things off some pro's . Rossi, Trent, Rini, , Seth, and KLP all are very good. Ski with them. Talk to them. great dudes.

    For me. a deeper fin has too much grip. I trend to get highsided out of the turns slightly. Or as i move thru the wake the ski flattens out a bit. The trick is again, for me finding out the right surface area that will support me. My wife, kids and me are all on Vapors. 4 diff. sizes, styles etc.. The trick is figuring out that sweet spot on the surface area that will support the skier and their technique.

    ** as i get stronger in the summer i go slightly deeper. I able to hold the finish a little better and thus take out some length.

    my 2 boys 2 ers dont need 17.03 surface area. me being a fatso will need close to that. the wife is about 16.94 ish in area.

    I know i'm rambling. Pay attention to what you are doing and what your ski/set up is doing. If it's something that happens alot. for example, blowing the tail, or slow turning your onside and you're falling over. Talk to or ski with one of the above or call your ski manufacturer. It may be your set up.
  • TallSkinnyGuyTallSkinnyGuy Posts: 540 Crazy Baller
    At what line length and speed do fin settings become an issue? If I never get past 28 off at 34mph do I have to worry at all about playing with fin settings?
  • Than_BoganThan_Bogan Posts: 6,353 Mega Baller
    Fin settings do something at every line length. But they don't become important until you are reaching the limit of how much you can improve your ability and want to try to eek out a little more performance from tweaking your equipment.

    Otherwise, make sure you're close to factory and then never think about it again.
    Nathaniel Bogan -- GUT Padawan
  • ToddLToddL Posts: 2,787 Mega Baller
    Hmm. I rarely disagree with @Than_Bogan but I do here. Always start with recommended factory settings, but then if you have access to an experienced fin tweaker, get their eyes on you. Despite not having perfect technique, a little fin tweak can help gain confidence as you work on better technique. For example, let's say you break forward at the waist into the buoy as your current "style" and are trying to stay more upright and stacked as an improved technique. However, when you do this, you tend to wheelie or fall back. A small fin tweak could help you feel more stable when learning the more upright stance into the buoy. Once your technique solidifies, you will likely be wanting to get back to factory settings.

    Small tweaks for a little learning support can really help. But let's be clear... Large crutches in fin settings to counter poor habits are NOT recommended and can really delay true gains in skill.
    -- The future of skiing depends upon welcoming novice skiers regardless of age to our sport.
  • Than_BoganThan_Bogan Posts: 6,353 Mega Baller
    Interesting @ToddL! We DO tend to agree a lot, don't we?

    I suspect the split here has mainly to do with availability of experts. In my ski life, I am rarely able to have a personal conversation with a true fin guru. I suspect most are in a similar boat (so to speak), and therefore have a lot of potential to do more harm than good. But I can imagine how an expert fin tweaker might be able to aid a skier who is still on the steep part of the learning curve.

    So maybe my thoughts on the matter are best summarized by: "Don't try this at home!"
    Nathaniel Bogan -- GUT Padawan
  • ToddLToddL Posts: 2,787 Mega Baller
    Yes we do! I also agree with "don't try this at home."
    -- The future of skiing depends upon welcoming novice skiers regardless of age to our sport.
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