Interview with windsurfing tester Shawn Kempton and the development of the new True Ames Blade Weed 2 fin.
Shawn, you recently assisted Chuck Ames of True Ames Fins in developing a new weed fin design to replace the popular BladeWeed model. Would you please share a little insight to yourself, your windsurfing background, and how this R & D experience came about?
I have been windsurfing on and off for 35 years. I started to get serious about it in 93. I moved to a new home with the bay right out back. I grew up racing sailboats on the Toms River. By age 22 I had won 11 national championships and competed in the 80 Olympic trials in the Finn Class.
Barnegat Bay gets a phenomenal amount of weed from July right thru September; last year there were no weed fins that you could buy that would work. I explained my frustrations to Gary at Isthmus and he thought Chuck would have a solution
What were your goals in assisting Chuck Ames in redesigning his BladeWeed fin?
We needed fin that would clear the weed. I don't care how fast a
more vertical fin is, if it doesn't clear the weed it is USELESS. Not
just one that would clear when you were already planing. We needed a
fin that would clear in marginal conditions WHILE PUMPING UP ON A
PLANE. When you are trying to get out of the hole in marginal
conditions, and are just about on a plane and then you hit the weed
and you have to start all over .Extremely frustrating.
We also needed big weed fins that would work. The newer sails are so
rangy 8.5, 9.5, 10.5 are now common sails. Also, the newer boards are
wider in the tail, requiring larger fins. I personally don't think
enough emphasis is placed on the fin. When you are fully powered up I
will bet, there is more wetted surface of the fin, than the board.
Making the fin as important or more important than the board.
I see people sometimes rig three different sails in one session. I
find it mind boggling, that is a lot of work and you are missing
sailing time. If you are overpowered just switch to a smaller fin and
chances are you will be fine.
The image of test / comparison fins is impressive! How many weed
fins did you test in this R & D process?
All of them, well all of them that could be purchased. I even
had some sent over from Germany and just last month I received some
Makani weed fins.
Chuck Ames has been a long time master fin designer for: Windsurf,
Surf, Kite and now SUP boards. Did you learn a lot from Chuck through
I can tell you this, Chuck will listen, even if you are not a
pro or have a big name in the industry.
What performance advantages do find the Bladeweed 2 provides over
it's predecessor and the various competitors weed fins?
Thru testing, there is no doubt in my mind that this is the best
weed fin on the market today. It clears the nastiest weed, it is fast
and it corners.
Thank you Shawn for taking time out of your schedule to share your
insight and experience with Isthmus Sailboards customers!