Local surfer and engineer Cliffy Hamilton is the man behind the new home-grown "made in PE" fin systems called Fins In. Together with Peter Barclay and Dennis Ellis he's developed a kick-ass fin set-up that's made out of 100% PET (that's plastic to you and me). It's local, it's green and it's cheap. Oh, and it works like a bomb too. Slam dunk.
It started a coupla years back when Cliffy (like the rest of us) went "Shew, fins ain't cheap". Being an engineer he came up with a plan, and seeing as his mate Peter owned a plastic bottle making company, it seemed logical to suss out the possibility of making his own. After much trial and error they've come up with a great set of fins, moulded on the standard G5 FCS fin. But they went one step further and made em better.
Cliffy and his Fins In
Pretty damn cool looking huh!?
Most peeps are familiar with how an FCS set-up trashes your board if the fin rips out - cos (a) it takes the damn plug with it, and (b) it often also ends up with one end of the fin digging into the board. So not only are you down a fin, your board need repairs too. Fins In uses a single fin plug block instead of the 2 individual plugs like FCS. This makes the fin plug structure way stronger and has the ability to withstand torsion a whole bunch better. So if you gonna ride into a rock or something your fin will actually break off, and leave the fin plug intact - so no buggered board. Better!
The brains trust - Peter and Cliffy (and Dennis Ellis - not in picture)
They just look like they can fly!
The fins are made outta 100% recycled plastic, which means they have a bit of flex. This ain't a bad thing in average sized waves (as in 90% of the time in PE), as it gives you more drive - you push at the fin - it pushes back at ya. However, Cliffy reckons they probably aren't best suited to surf over 6ft - which is when you want your stiffer fins to be holding your line. They are looking into blending some glass into another fin template they'll be making at a later stage, to create a stiffer fin for those looking for big wave fins. Plus they're also working on a bunch of new templates as well. But we can't tell you yet - it's a secret!
Here's what fins look like before they get born.
Plastic gets pumped into the machine, and a minute later you pull out a set of fins
Pretty cool to see how these things are made. They start off as a bunch of lil plastic beads which are made from recycled plastic. This comes from what gets collected at municipal dumps, and goes to JHB to get turned back into pellets for re-use. Gooi a moerse klomp of these into the injection mould machine, heat em up to 350C, pump em into the mould, and in 1 minute you have a set of fins which you pull outta the machine and drop into a bucket of water to cool off. 60 fin sets an hour.
And here's the system - fin plugs and fins
The sky's the limit!
They come out looking like mini helicopter blades. Once they cool off they get twisted off the central structure. A bit of manual refinement to the edges ensures you have a perfect fin. The ou's actually sandpaper down the edges a bit so they aren't quite so sharp. Anyone that's been bitten by their fins can appreciate this! Plans are to produce a variety of cool colours so you can match em up to your board.
Despite having what he reckons is a stronger better system than FCS, Cliffy has decided to keep things local instead of selling off his IP to the big boys. Fins In will however be distributing internationally, and they've already got guys in Aus and the UK that will be distributing their product over there.
Local peeps can buy their Fins In at Dennis Ellis's Boardroom. You don't have to buy the whole system, you can also go grab a set of fins....they fit all standard FCS plug sets. They're a moer of a lot cheaper than FCS's, and just as good, if not better. At R150 a set or R50 a fin - you don;t get better value than that.
All of Dennis's new boards are coming with the Fins In system built in. A double dose of local is lekker, and better for the environment nogal.