In recent seasons the number of worldwide custom fin manufacturers has increased and sailors around the world have begun to see new fin names popping up on equipment lists on the World Tour Events. One of those names that has been popping up in recent times is VMG Blades, a new fin company based in Australia with origins from the work of Boogie at www.c3-fins.com who specialise in high-end, full-custom boutique carbon FW fins made at a reasonable price. CarbonSugar caught up with Chris Ting from VMG Blades to have a ‘sneak-peek’ at what these fins are about and to find out how we can all get one under our feet in 2009. Read on to enjoy the full interview with Chris …
How did you get into the fin game?
I’ve always been active in sailing; both racing competitively and building equipment. I’ve built my own windsurfers (everything from Formula to Speed) and even a state of the art Sports Yachts back in 1993, which was featured on the cover of September 1998 “Australian Sailing Magazine” (see below).
Anyhow, I guess it was no surprise that I started talking with Boogie at C3 Fins back in 2002. C3 Fins had just won the FW World’s with Kevin Pritchard (USA-3). I became a bit more involved, by providing feedback and occasionally inputting into the development. When Boogie retired from making FW fins in 2006, he offered to sell us his IP and tooling.
In the early days we dedicated a lot of time working closely with Boogie, to make sure we re-produced C3’s extremely high standards. From there we started an ongoing development program. We still keep in touch with Boogie to bounce ideas around. (Actually I was just speaking to him yesterday!) I hope we can live up to Boogie’s hard earned reputation.
How do your fins differ from other fins currently on the market?
Originally, C3 molds started with A, B, C, etc, so we have continued along that line. The latest evolution is the ‘K’. We commissioned Boogie to develop the ‘K’ fin using his latest foil design. We then got down to the detail of developing the best layups to meet our performance requirements.
Looking at the current trends on the FW fin market, other designers have moved toward swept-back outlines with very torsionally stiff layups. We decided to go our own way with an outline with almost neutral twist. This gave us better ability to control the twist characteristics of the fin by the layup; without having to combat or trade-off against the ‘geometric twist’ built into a swept-back outline of other fins.
Your fins appear to be ‘lighter’ than other fins on the market? How so?
Yes, that’s usually the first thing a lot of people notice when they pick up one of our fins. We use 100% carbon in the laminate and because of our outline we only have to put the carbon in specifically to control the bend and the twist, not to counteract the twist produced by swept-back outlines. We also cure our fins under extremely high pressure and heat which allows us to get very good fibre to resin ratios which results in a minimal void laminate. We have a few secret ingredients which also help keep the weight of the fin down; developed by C3 Fins. Any weight saving on your rig is a good thing. Have you ever seen a winning skiff with heavy foils these days?
Do you have a range of fins?
We’ve pretty much finalised our range of fins. We already have specific bends of the ‘K’ model for different sailing styles and equipment. We’re developing cutdowns, which help extra light-wind performance and balance the super-wide tails of current boards. For the serious racers, we are continuing to build fins to their personal specifications.
We have just finished testing our latest prototypes and are very pleased with the results. The current fin is extremely competitive. The fins have been described as very easy to sail, with an automatic trim and a feeling of hydro foiling.
Who Is Behind VMG Blades?
Anthony Woodrow, Brett Morris & I.
But Who Are You????
I (Chris Ting, AUS-5) am the actual guy who builds the fins. I’ve been actively racing FW since it began in Australia and I headed over to Portugal for the FW Worlds last September. (I hope I can make it to Spain this year!) I am also the President of the Storm-Riders (www.storm-riders.com.au) Windsurfing Club in Sydney which organises the big and growing fleet of regular FW racing on the east coast of Australia. VMG Blades is based in Sydney, Australia, testing in Botany Bay. I hope we can see a lot more sailors head over this way and enjoy our windy summers down under.
So when can we order a fin?
Production is limited at the moment. When the doors are fully open and ready for business, I promise CarbonSugar will be the first to know!
In the meantime, if you’d like to enquire about our fins you can get in contact with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.