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May 26

Tiger & Maliko racer review

We get a lot of feedback on our products and it is always great to be able to share some of it with our blog. I always want riders to be able to feel empowered to make informed decisions about which gear is going to optimize their performance and enjoyment on the water. Thanks to Chris Ferrara and his son Tristan (kidsupracer.wordpress.com)  for sending this detailed review of the Tiger and Maliko SUP race fins which they received recently.

 

“I am really excited to talk about the newest addition to my gear collection! Dad hooked me up with some new fins By Black Project. Based in Maui Hawaii, Black Project has been a major player in windsurf fins and has broken into the SUP market with some high performance fins geared toward racing! Perfect for me! Since I race and all…. 😉

You may ask, Why get a fin? Doesn’t your board come with one? Well, yes, but when you get a SUP board regardless of race or surf, it seems to come with a surfy fin. Donno why, but that seems to be the case. And surfy fins are NOT the best thing for racing. So, that was the first thing we did last year… I upgraded fins to a better tracking keel fin. (By tracking I mean it goes straight when I paddle). Keel fins are great. I think it worked well! It tracked better anyway. But as racers, my dad and I are always looking for ways to be faster. Faster is better right? Duh! So, Dad kinda formed the opinion that although many fins were better for racing, there didn’t seem to be many that were designed specificly for racing. That is until he came across Black Project.

Dad is really the gear junky in the family, so this is were I turn it over to him. He loves this stuff and he’s really the force behind what gear we choose. AND, he wrote this really long review. 😐 I hardly understand any of it, but maybe you do. What I do understand is that these fins make me go straight and fast! Also! My fav out of the two is the Maliko, and my dad’s fav is the Tiger.

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So here’s what he thinks.

I tend to be wordy, so I’ll get right to it. First impressions; Take the Tiger Sprint out of the box… wow It’s small! I’m a fairly big guy, and always use big fins whether windsurfing or SUP. This fin definitely fits in the small category. Upon a closer examination I see it has a mild rake and foil. Nothing extreme. Interesting outline though. Then I unpackaged the Maliko. It’s a little bigger than the Tiger. It has more rake for shedding weeds and apart from the Tiger this fin has a relatively thick foil. I can tell it will have a lot of grip for its given surface area because the foil is so large. The Tiger is nice and light while the Maliko is pretty heavy for a sup fin. Both being G-10 construction the Maliko is considerably heavier due to its thicker foil. I expect it will make up for its weight with its stiffness and durability. The build quality is first class.

I immediately take off to the beach to try these fins out. The conditions on the water were flat in the harbor and canal system, but windy. My board choice today was my wife’s Bark Candice Appleby. It’s a 12’6″ raceboard. The small raceboard is pretty low volume for my 200lbs, but actually found it to be a great platform to test fins. It’s tippy at my weight, and I have to position myself perfectly on the board to keep a nice neutral waterline at the nose and tail. So any change in performance proved very obvious.

In a stiff 10-15 knot wind I first start with my normal every day fin… A surfy hybrid style made by Futures called the Triangle Cutaway. It’s a high rake weed fin, with a larger surface area than both the Tiger and the Maliko at 52 sq. in. The Tiger comes in at only 33 sq.in. and the Maliko at 42 sq.in.

So, the reason I start with the Futures is to achieve a baseline feel and to count my strokes per side. Judging my projection was fairly easy as I am in a narrow canal. The Futures fin comes in at about 10 strokes on either side on average.

After I get a pretty good feel for my baseline, I go in to switch fins. I choose the Tiger first. When I put it on the board I can’t help but notice how small it looks! It seems smaller than almost any other fin I’ve seen. It must be fast indeed, but will it track? Well, at first stroke I smile… “It’s got some get up and go”, I say to myself. Very little resistance! That slippery feeling makes me want to paddle faster. After paddling a few minutes in to the wind I notice a nice loose feel that makes it easy on my shoulders. By loose I mean, it didn’t feel like I was pulling an anchor. It makes the board feel lighter. I happily put about two miles on the Tiger and record an average of 8 strokes per side. Not too shabby for how loose it felt! It appears to perform better with a faster cadence and requires concentrated stroke in order for it to track well. But all that is expected. I’m a big guy on a small board, and a small fin. I’m pretty impressed given the circumstances. It does nothing for stability however. Again, Big guy in a little board. And the reality is, these are high performance fins aimed at skilled paddlers.

Now let’s talk about turning performance? Holy smokes! There is no comparison. With the Flexi Futures fin, pivot turning is not so great. It feels like it wants to work against me as the fin flexes and rebounds. Whereas the Tiger just spins! So easy! Again, stability is not its strong point, but it turns so easy that I don’t have to do a huge pivot turn in order to get the nose around. I could stay in a more stable section of the board to do a fast turn. (Keep in mind, I never fell in. So while it sounds as though stability is sacrificed, it is certainly manageable.)

Totally stoked on Black Project’s Tiger. I see it for the paddler with some experience, who is comfortable on their board and has good stroke technique. This fin would excel in flat water race with a lot of buoy turns as it is super-fast around the corners and accelerates with extreme ease! Hence the Black Project’s description as a “Sprint” fin. I think the name fits perfectly. Also I could see using this fin in a longer distance race if you are a lighter paddler and have a higher cadence. Definitely play with fin position to get the most out of it. I would personally position this fin all the way back in the fin box to achieve more projection because this fin already turns on a dime! (I had mine positioned more toward the front out of habit)

Note: The next day after writing this review I spent another hour with this fin positioned all the way aft in the fin box. Major improvement in tracking and I didn’t notice turns being any more difficult. Awesome fin!

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At this point I am really excited to try its big brother, the Maliko. This fin actually looks a lot like a windsurf fin. Narrow chord, longer than the Tiger and a large foil. My first impression on the water again, big smile with just the first couple strokes! Pointing 45 degrees to the wind the Maliko is locked in! I feel the board project forward right away! A locked in feel with very little drag. Some fins track well, but feel heavy to pull through the water. Not the case with the Maliko. And it’s quite noticeable at that. It seems like I motor right up to top speed after a few strokes.

The glide is really impressive too! I don’t feel like the board slows much between strokes or as I switch sides. I can’t emphasize enough how this fin got my attention. As for strokes per side, it was an easy 11-12. Vs. the Futures fin with more surface at about 10 strokes per side. And strokes per side doesn’t tell the full story here. At 45 degrees to the wind it appears the fin is being sucked upwind instead of being pushed down wind. My eyes may be fooled here, but that is the perception I get. Also, I found a unique aspect to the Maliko. The faster this fin goes, the more the nose of my small board wants to dive. So, once under way I feel like shifting my weight more aft. This tells me that this fin is creating lift in the tail. Repositioning my weight aft on the board and this “lift” translates to forward projection. (As I mentioned earlier, riding this small board accentuates the tell tales of the fin that I may not have noticed on a bigger board.)

So this fin really is exceptional. As for stability, I didn’t feel I gained any over the Futures. The Futures does a good job at adding stability. But, like I said earlier, I didn’t get wet during the test. Turning ability is excellent as well! Another great aspect of this fin. It’s fast into the corner and no need to dance all the way back to the tail. One or two steps back were plenty to get the board to turn.

I would use the Maliko if you’re looking for impressive flat water tracking without losing anything in the turns. I didn’t test the Maliko downwind in the bumps yet, but I expect it would be a stellar choice in these conditions given the lift the fin achieves in the tail. Also Black Projects designed and tested this fin in Maui, and that’s pretty much ground zero for downwinders. So I’m sure it won’t disappoint in this category.

Black Project fins coin the Tiger and Maliko as “Pro Race” fins. And in my opinion, that’s exactly what they are. They both achieve their goal. The Tiger is fast off the line and VERY nimble. The Maliko has rock solid tracking, really good glide and is awesome in the turns compared to bigger flexier fins. Win! Win! Win!

So if you want to add instant performance improvement to your race board, the Black Project Fins are exactly what you’re looking for.” Chris and Tristan

 

Thanks Guys for a great review, we look forward to hearing more. You can follow Tristan’s blog here certainly an up and coming racer we should look out for!

 

Learn more about the Tiger and Maliko and Contact Us if you have any questions.

 

More to follow…