South West Cup - Formula report

3 April 2005

South West Cup

St. Micheal's Mount The weekend started with a 7-hour drive from Manchester. We arrived at Marazion late on Thursday night, hit the pub, and got to say hello to all the sailors. This is the first time this year we will have seen most of them.

I know it may sound silly but my blood was pumping and I was eager to get sailing. After an early night the morning came to bring warm weather and sunshine. After a leisurely walk down the beach I got my sails rigged and was ready for action.

The funny thing is that thinking you're ready and being ready is totally different. The first event of the year yielded pretty tough conditions. What with the shore dump, the swell and light winds. Not being totally fit did not help much either. Most of the sailors seem to have problems getting out and lots of equipment got damaged.

Formula's line up for the start Once out to sea the wind seem to get stronger. My start was top class, pointing was good and I felt the rush. The wind was building to 14 - 16 knots or so and my board seemed to struggle, bouncing around lifting off each wave, something was wrong. I felt over powered, fighting to hold the sail.
As I went around the windward mark things were looking good for a top ten place although my board was all over the place and I couldn't control it.

Once I had finished the race, my arms were pumped up and I was feeling knackered. The next race soon began. I had the same problems again the board was uncontrollable. After this race I went into the beach. I was a bit puzzled, not sure what was going on. After a chat with a few of the lads (thank you for the tips) I realised I had the wrong fin. I was using a very light wind fin used by 80kg sailors in up to 12 knots! This was not the fin for me as I am only 70kg - 75kg and in 14 -16 knots of wind this was a big mistake.

This is a valid point. Fins can cost £200+ and you don't really know if it works with your new board or not, you have just got to try it. The best tip I had over the weekend was to keep all of your fins, as you never know which one will be best for you and your board. Many sailors use a Deboichet R13 Medium fin. This seems to be a popular choice however whether to choose a forward rake of + 2, 3 or 4cm I am not sure. I need to check a few web sites on which fin I should use. After 22 years of racing at national and international level I never would have believed how critical a fin could be. This formula sailing is more than just tactics; you need to know all about the board and the fin. This is just as important as the sail.

At this point I decided to miss the next race and go out and try some of my fins to see which works the best. This was very interesting. I put on an old F-Hot fin. This worked well and the board became controllable and the sail was not over powered. However as this fin had lots of backwards rake I could not point very high. After trying a few more fins I seem to have a problem with each one if different ways.

My next step is to find a good fin. After asking lots of sailors about which fin I should get for my board and after hours of chat I finally had some idea on what I should try - I got hold of a Deboichet R13 Soft +2cm.
I was told I could not go wrong with this fin as it is designed for light - medium winds. An R13 Medium with forward rake will be a good change fin.

Due to the lack of wind over the next few days we never got anymore sailing and I could not try out my new fin. I have now spent some time on the Internet looking at fins this is what I've found:

The Deboichet R12 works well in light to medium wind and flat water. Its best points are in the lighter breeze with bigger sails (11.7 - 11.0) Its weakness is when it gets heavy and it doesn't have the top end speed as the R13 or 14.

The Deboichet R13 is a good all around fin that works well in most conditions. Its best points are in medium winds when you already have power. When it's windy, it doesn't have the top end speed as the R14.

The Deboichet R14 is best when you're lit up. It has amazing speed downwind but you need lots of wind. It doesn't work as well underpowered or in the light stuff. I use this with my 9.0 or 10.0
Also to consider is stiffness...Softer fins seem to have better feel in lighter winds while stiffer fins give more control when it gets windy.


This is the perfect free feeling fin. It gives a lot of lift with lots of speed. Ideal fin for racers who go more for the feeling than with the power. Ideal in lighter condition for everyone. In stronger conditions is great for the light/medium weight surfers. If your board feels dragy on the water, this is the right fin for you.


This fin is fitting every condition and every surfer. Has the right power, gives great stability. Fast in all directions without giving any problems in control. To play it safe this is the fin, which will always take you to the top.


Developed from the R13, the R14, has less power. You can reach higher speeds, but it's pointing a little bit less. It's ideal for strong wind for heavier body weights, and it could be the replacement for the R13 in light wind for the lightweight sailors.


This is the opposite of an R14. Mainly built for heavier surfers. Gives great pointing angles. Also for the light bodies sailors it can be very interesting in light wind. The stronger the wind, the more you push, the faster this fin goes.

In general, bigger and softer fins are better for early planning, reaching, light winds. Smaller and harder fins are better for control, downwind, and stronger winds.

So after my nightmare start to the season I now know all about fins. For anyone else in the same boat as me remember it is only one event so don't worry. Just think about the next event the season has just begun!

Well done to the sailors who have been to my training weekends, your results proved that all the training has paid off, the next training May 7th 8th for more details email

See you all soon, all the best

Mark Kay GBR365

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