Flipping fin-tastic. That's the only way to describe their foil tipped Q2's from Hanalei Fins. These awesome lil puppies dropped into my mailbox recently thanks to ex-PE boytjie Lancelot Pearson.
I've been a Hanalei fin addict ever since Lance gave me a set to try out about 4 years ago when he was visiting PE for a school reunion. I haven't ridden another fin since. And have slowly built up my collection so almost all my go-to boards have them.
The original Q2's are interesting looking fins, with a very vertical set-up and a concave foil on the inside - a sailing-inspired design brought over into fins by Hanalei creator (and also ex-Saffa) Robin Mair. They're crazy fast, and just perfect for the mini-simmons type boards I ride.
So enter the new flip tip Q2's. A small flip in the tip is set at a 16º angle (outboard) to the blade of the fin and have the effect of turning it into a mini-hydrofoil. These things FLY!
The tip allows the hollow foil on the inside of the fin to extend all the way to the tip. The foil works like a sail on a yacht - so just as wind presses directly into the sails to make them puff out, and that natural force propels the boat forward, so the "sail shape" of the fin captures the water and propels the board forward.
The foil also helps the fins to release better at the top of the turn - not release as in drift-out-slide-your-fins kinda thing, but just release to allow you to pivot better through the turn.
But not only are the flip-tips fast, they're grippy as hell too. One of the cool features of these tips is how they allow the board to transition through turns. If you visualize these fins in use you can see that as the board transitions more to the rail the tips of the engaged fins become more vertical in the water. Not only does this improve the feel of the fin, but it more importantly helps the board come around during the turn, as it provides some thing to pivot around. All of this is done without losing any speed!
I had the chance to try them out in some decent waves at Millers (super Sunday) and they were flat out amazing. I'm a kak surfer and can feel the difference these make to my ride, so just imagine what they'll do for your surfing if you're a half decent surfer!
Just like you wouldn't put wooden wheels on your car, don't put crap fins in your boards. You'll be amazed at the difference a decent pair of fins can make. And the Hanalei's crank it up another notch - turning your sled into a magic carpet ride.
What's even better is that they're made by Saffa's - ex-PE/Uitenhage locals at that. Designer Robin Mair used to shape surfboards in PE and JBay way back in the day (Mera Surat). He moved to Santa Cruz where he diverted into designing racing yachts for many years, and later moved to Hawaii where he got back into shaping boards. Frustrated with the existing fin systems at the time, he and a mate and then started ProBox Fin Systems. A while after, Hanalei Fins was born.
Robin believed that a surfboard couldn't be designed independently of the fins that would be used on the board. Consequently, he had always designed and made his own fins. So Hanalei Fins was a way to take his creations public.
Lance (ex-Uitenhage dweller & PE surfer) is the Aussie rep for the brand, and also does some insane custom art-work on the fins.
If you check out the Hanalei Fins website you'll see there are some pretty left-of-centre fin designs they produce - but every one is solidly grounded in marine design principles, not just a case of making crazy looking templates. They're crazy looking templates that work insane, and have plenty of hours of R&D behind them.
They're still a pretty underground name in the fin world, but there are a number of guys in Hawaii and Aus riding them, and the word is spreading. Cos seriously, once you ridden them you won't go back to a "conventional" fin.
They have a very strong following in the kneelo community. Which is already a mark of respect to them - cos remember - kneelo's can't pump their boards to gain speed as easily as surfers do - so they really rely a lot more on their equipment to do the job for them. And that means they need fast fins.
The good news is that they're finally available in South Africa. Mike de Heer of Dust Surf is bringing them into the country - so you can now order some online from him vs the schlep of having to ship in from overseas. Plus, if you mention to Mike you read about the fins on the ML blog he'll throw in a 10% discount as well.
Do yourself a favour and spoil yourself with a set. You will not be sorry!