Who cares what Slater rides? He's only using them because he's making money. which is fine, but I think he would ride for who ever is willing to pay him most. FCS has too many weak points. Too many problems, too many repairs. Install takes longer. Fins have weak drive. Could go on and on.
I agree about FCS having the weakest drive due to base flex. I noticed that when the board is new, the fins feel a little stiffer than when the board ages. I had a suspicion that the problem was the soft plastic plugs were distorting and rounding-off causing the fins to "rock" in their holes. One of my older FCS boards had this problem big time. When you try to "fix" the problem by tightening the screws, the soft plastic strips out. I think Futures are way better when properly installed because the boxes are the shallowest and the fins are stiffer. Red X have the problem of cracking out as the deck of the board dents in from use. By the way, has anyone tried laying up a layer of glass on the plastic FCS fins to stiffen them up with good results?
Supposedly resin will not make a chemical bond to the plastic used to make the fcs composite fins, so puting glass on them would not work.
I've never installed tem but I've repaired numerous damaged FCS plugs. Once they are loosened up due to an impact there just seems to be no great way to get them solid in the board again without major surgery. The fact that the plug is not 'under' any glass seem to be an invitation for seepage, cracking the surrounding resin, and slowly loosening plugs. I prefer glass on (strong and inexpensive) but since travel and fin experimentation is easier with a fin system I tent to recommend Futures. I like the full box (stiffer and more surface area to adhere to the blank) and the setup under the glass (more durable). I also have never seen a damaged Futures box unless someone stripped the screw. FCS does seem to have the most easily available range of fin styles.
Every fin system has their strong points and their weak points. It's the customers personal preferances which should determine which system they have installed in their boards. FCS has a broad selection of fin templates. They also have the most developed world wide distribution. Finally, they can be installed with a hole saw. Their weak points are that they rely upon stainless steel set screws threaded into plastic for their base rigidity. The plug material and design have inherant weaknesses. Finally, you can't adjust the position of the fins. We chose to make a system that focused first on base rigidity. Red X fins rely upon an intimate fit of matching tapers between the fin root and the box walls to ensure base integrity. Our fasteners are binding head s/s screws that mate to brass threaded inserts that are pressed into the root of the fin perpendicular to the draw of the fastener. Our boxes are molded from a glass filled elastomer that has a flexular modulus of 1.5 million psi ( the stuff is stiff). Our line of templates is twelve deep in composites and more in laminated fiberglass and RTM cored fins. Some people feel that our weakness was the design choice to go threw the deck. On underglassed over shaped boards I can see their point. But, inorder to distribute the tortional loads fins generate when mounting to a fiberglass shell, you have two choices. One distribute the load over a large area of the bottom, which limits the types of bottom contours the boxes will fit in. Two distribute the load in an I-beam construction. But, this choice demands a minimum of 12 ounces of glass in the immediate areas of the necks and 8 ounces around the base. If boards are built to that schedule immediately around the boxes the torsional loads that Red X can control exceed all other systems out there. And they are adjustable.
The G-AMs are great. Since fins are said to make or break a board, and since Al Merrick is regarded the top shaper worldwide, the fins must be responsible for part of the performance of his shapes and designs. What is interesting about the G-AM fin outline compared to all the other available thruster templates is how swept back and narrow the tips are. These fins are fast, and they totally carve whether in a shortboard or a gun. The waves within driving/boating distance of Al's shop range from small and mushy to long and fast to steep and extremely hollow to huge and macking. Good proving grounds to test out board and fin design.
The Red-x looks like a great concept, but isn't the problem that most boards ARE over shaped and underglassed? And I hear that not all glasser properly install fin plugs, so you need to factor that into the equation as well. Unfortunately, most stock surfboards are way underglassed and fall apart in just a few months. If you want a heavy board that rides like a pig, you can put an 18oz deck on it. But the trend has been to go lightweight and "denty". Damned if you do, damned if you don't.
It only takes a bit of care to make a quality product. But, you are right there are far too many shortcuts taken in many stock production boards. It's good to see quality boards like Channel Islands doing as many Red X boards as they do. The glass schedule that we require will not make a board excessively heavy. You only need to beef up the immediate area around the boxes.
............I see that most people don't even use this deck saver.They work and I never had a problem with depression around the top of the box,not even on my ultra lites glassed minimally.If you don't see it insist on them.Herb
I understand that Slater has a contract with FCS and I mentioned on the original post that they have a a few flaws.But if they have week base drive that how do all the pro's win on them? I can see if they loosen up on you.I was hoping to get more responses on the funtion and performance of them. I would like to try speed fins. Anyone tried them yet? Thanks!