Posted April 11th, 2014 by admin
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Introducing Gary Matthews

Gary Mathews_1

We’d like to give a huge welcome to the team to Gary Matthews.

Here’s some words from Gary who’s a great ambassador for our sport and is helping spread the K4 love..

Home is Parker, Colorado, between Denver and Colorado Springs. Local sailing is limited to lake sailing during the warmer months unless you are in to ice surfing!

My favourite sailing locations from USA west coast to east coast are: Rio Vista, California, Dougs Beach , Hood River, Oregon, Bird Island, Texas, Cape Hatteras , Outer Banks in North Carolina. My home beaches could well be described as in Maine, both lakes and coastal sailing.

Sails; Ezzy and Hot Sails Maui from 3.3 to 7.5m. Favorite setups are the 4 batten versions, 4.7 Heaven.

Boards range from A to W . Angulo –Witchcraft , Naish, Tabou, Fanatic, RRD, Starboard and MOO Custom, which gets used everywhere I go. Board sizes range from 69L to Formula 152, no matter how much or high little wind, I usually manage to get out there!

My collection of K4s seems to get bigger by the day, they are used on 2 Quads and 4 tri fin variations.
The quads really work well with the Ezzy 2 degree toe forward or Shark tooth and Stubbie rears. The trailing tri fins work nicely with Stubbies forward and a small Stubbie rear centre. Looking forward to try the Bubble freestyle fin for the rear on the the trailers.

K4fins offer great value for multi-fin boards they retain a loose feeling with drive and great upwind capability. I highly recommend trying different variations to suit your windsurfing style.

As well as windsurfing, I enjoy; snowboarding, mountain biking and for peaceful moments watercolor painting .

Current project is the recycle of an older Mistral into a 2013 shape whilst reducing the size somewhat, not the best of fun during the Colorado winter!

https://www.facebook.com/garlandmcfarland

Gary Mathews

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Posted February 12th, 2014 by admin
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Graham interviewed by Continent Seven

Great Continent Seven interview with Graham on contests, competing, travelling and stories..

http://www.continentseven.com/2014/02/07/graham-ezzy-interview/

Graham Ezzy by Julian Leach


Posted February 11th, 2014 by admin
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Tiny tinkering – K4 Stubby 14” twin fin review

Froth
Image of Tez by Steve Barrow

I’ve wanted to test just how small you can go with fins on bigger boards for a while. It used to be, back in the Dark Ages of windsurfing, changing your skeg to cope with fluctuating wind strengths and/or wave size and quality, was the norm.

If it was breezier, change down, whereas lighter airs called for bigger skegs. With multi configurations now common place (and less attention given to fins) I was keen to see just how micro I could actually get away with in slower, mushier south coast slop.

For the purpose of this review I used a 90L twinny and a pair of K4 Stubbys – hopefully retaining maximum early planing but improving on nippier manoeuvrability.

Conditions

It’s been a hectic full power winter so far – bull’s eye low pressures spinning relentlessly. Large swells, tidal surges and storm force winds have taken their toll on seafront landscapes – in parts, totally obliterating buildings, railway lines and coastal properties.

The majority of the UK’s population is no doubt sick to the back teeth of rampaging Atlantic depressions. Us windies, on the other hand, continue to act like pigs in muck and are positively frothing.
Conditions in my own backyard have been suitably epic. While nowhere near the colossus volume of water the West Country has received, Hayling has had its fair share of swell and breeze.

The problem when waves roll across our humble sand bank is the amount of rip you get. Current can zap power and leave you wallowing in superglue, unable to plane, with sets bearing down. It’s often wise to ride a (relatively) bigger board and use volume and width to combat the negative effects of rip. It’s important, however, you’re then on the right size sail and have ample (but not too much) fin area to make your ride as comfortable as possible – sailing bigger sticks, in overpowered choppy sea states, will rattle the very core of your insides if not careful.

How small?

Having used K4 Stubby skegs for stand up paddle board sessions I was keen to see how they coped with windsurf conditions. Setting the fins right at the back of the box, to increase upwind performance and grip, I commenced battle with side shore head high sets.
Just before launching, there was a slight nagging doubt about fin choice, but I shoved this to one side and jumped aboard with dogged determination.

Early planing

A stiff westerly puffed me onto the plane like a rocket – completely dispelling myths about small skegs impeding get up and go. I was away and blatting towards oncoming loomers in the blink of an eye.
Boosting off the apex I rotated into a forward, a few seconds later touching down with a splash – so far so good. Now I had to get upwind and start bashing a few lips.

Pinch an inch

It’ll come as no surprise that heavy footed technique is a no no when sailing little foils – freestlylers are extremely used to this. Any size under (roughly) 20cm requires a rider to use the board’s rail and ‘drag’ upwind – too much back foot pressure will result in spin out.
The Stubby 14”s did an admirable job of remaining composed while pinching the breeze. Not quite as lightening quick upwind as bigger K4s (due mainly to my 83kg weight), but with a bit of technique and power in your rig, pointing was still efficient.

Lip slides, foam bashes and tail slides

Once in position it was a case of heading full power towards ramps, spinning a move, and heading back shoreward for a spot of wave wiggling.

During testing there was a considerable amount of chop, making wave faces less than buttery. A more drawn out bottom turn was therefore needed to avoid cavitation. Once back up to the lip the fun really started.

I love a bit of tail slide action and the Stubby 14”s certainly allow for that. It took me a few runs to dial into how much ‘push’ was needed – once I eased off the gas, everything settled down. At times I was able to redirect in such an extreme fashion I found myself pointing in the direction I’d just travelled. This usually resulted in a drubbing as I was mown down by a frothy lip – still good fun though!

With each run I was becoming more used to the small K4s and started to enjoy the super skatey feel. This won’t be everyone’s cup of tea but switching your windsurfing up and trying something new can be super rewarding and give a greater understanding of your kit.

Hard landings

At 83kg I’m certainly not the lightest sailor, but equally not the heaviest. Riding on small fins does require a deft technique – especially when touching down after big boosts. There’s a tendency to come down hard on the tail, something that will see medium to heavy weight riders sliding sideways.
Increased awareness is needed when reaching for the heavens – especially if you’re over 12 stone.

Final thoughts

To some, small skegs, a skatey feel and having to concentrate while windsurfing is the stuff of nightmares – most just want to plug and play. However, those who love to slip, slide, boost and invert, in small to medium soft waves, would love a set up like this.

As I said at the start, my home break has its own unique traits and knowing these inside out ultimately helps with kit choice. Small fins, bigger boards and compact rigs are great for flicky, nippy and whippy sailing in slower waves. If windsurfing somewhere with more powerful surf then I’d definitely but opting for bigger fins – the last thing I’d want is to take an unnecessary pounding because of a lack of grip.

K4’s 14” Stubby fin set up is super loose on a wave and allows wider tail boards to remain settled – even in super powered conditions. Sail choice is key, as they don’t take kindly to overloading, and heavy back foot technique will give cavitation and spin out. It’s a great set up for some skate style windy fun – in particular, lighter sailors would do well with a set of 14” Stubby fins.

For added grip try this configuration with a smaller 10” Shark trailer fin if you have the option.

Loop
Image of Tez by Steve Barrow

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Posted January 31st, 2014 by admin
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BLowin’ up North Wales – Ollie Laddiman interview

Ollie3

Ollie Laddiman is one of a new generation of surf SUPers that’s blowing up the UK at the moment. After turning a few heads during 2013’s SUP National Champs at Watergate Bay, many were tipping this young ripper from Wales as one to watch in the future.
With the likes of Aaron Rowe and Finn Gamblin all in the mix, Ollie will definitely have his work cut out if he’s to get to the top of the pile. But with understanding parents (and a dad that also SUPs), plus support from brands like K4Fins, Laddiman junior’s future looks bright.

Tez Plavenieks had a bit of natter with the Welsh SUP grom to find out what’s occurin’ in 2014 – read on for the lowdown.

Ollie2-2

• Full name?

Ollie Liam Laddiman

• Age?

14

• You’re one of a new generation of UK SUP rippers; how did you get into the sport?

The first time I heard about SUPing was in 2009, when dad went to the Tiree Wave Classic. Obviously it wasn’t windy (it never is at windsurf comps). Someone was renting out SUPs so he had a go on a 12’6 x 31” – he didn’t like it, apparently it was like paddling a big plank.

About two years later dad’s friend Matt bought one, it was the 9`8” Starboard Extremist (it was massive). Then we found out we could surf it. We went down to Cornwall for dad to go windsurfing. No wind. So he thought he would have a go at this SUPing thing. He was starting to get his head around it – I still wasn’t impressed.

A couple of months went by, then there was a sunny day, so we went to the local beach (we brought the SUP). When we got there was no wind, sunny and a swell of less than knee high, great for first time waves. After that first one I caught that day I’ve been hooked.

The next time there was swell it was bigger, but dad wanted to go out, so he got the SUP, I got an old BIC windsurf board, but to be fair it worked for a beginner to go straight lining on the wave. I had that for a couple of months then we found out that Matt had another board, that he was about to sell – the Starboard 9`0 Stinger. We got that out of him, and I’ve been addicted to the sport ever since!

• What appeals to you about SUP surfing?

I don’t have to pop-up; I can catch loads and loads of waves; it’s really FUN!

• It looked like you scored a pretty sick trip to Fuerte over Christmas; how was it?

It was absolutely amazing. That’s all I can say.

• Which spots were working?

All of them, but they were massive, so we generally stayed at Rocky Point. We did venture over to Majanicho a couple of times though.

• How’s the new board and fins – describe the set up you’re currently rocking?

The board’s brilliant. Bill and the gang from Escape Custom SUP did a great job – the fins are great too. I’m currently on a thruster set up with 10” K4 Stubbys all round – a set up for my weight.

• How are your K4 fins working?

Perfectly, couldn’t ask for any fins better than these!

• Are you working on any new moves?

Yes, I’m trying to get my aerials sorted, and I need to get more vertical on the wave.

• You entered the SUP Nationals last year, do you plan on having a crack at any other competitions?

I would love to, but I can’t seem to find any other SUP surf competitions in Britain.

• We know you rip in waves but do you participate in any other areas of SUP?

Not really, I had a go at racing for a bit, but I found it boring.

• What are your SUP goals/aspirations for 2014?

Manage to land an aerial, win the under 16 division in the SUP nationals, and If I enter the men’s not come last…

• Do you have any UK spots you’d like to hit up?

Some of the north east breaks, Thurso to get my first barrel, the west coast of Ireland and head down to South Wales a bit more often.

• What’s the next overseas seas trip on your agenda?

Not sure, but hopefully we’re going back to Fuerteventura next year, and there might be a western France trip sometime.

• Blondes or brunettes?

A bit early to call. (Don’t believe you Ollie nudge, nudge, wink wink).

• Bacon or sausage?

I’m a vegetarian.

• Tea or coffee?

Tea, coffee just tastes like burnt water.

• Favourite pre-SUP tunes?

Teenage Kicks by the Undertones.

• Dogs or cats?

Both!

• Any final shout outs?

Just to all the guys and brands that have helped out over the last 12 months – I hope I can do my bit for them this year.

We’re sure you will Ollie – stay tuned…

Ollie1


Posted January 20th, 2014 by admin
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Size matters -improving your SUP performance

Bigger fins for increased grip and drive in choppy conditions - pic Blossom Photography

Bigger fins for increased grip and drive in choppy conditions – pic Blossom Photography

Smaller fins for skate style SUP performance - pic Fi

Smaller fins for skate style SUP performance – pic Fi

As you move up through the ranks and start looking for more performance, the SUP gear size question will no doubt raise its head..
‘What size SUP should I be looking at? What size fins and what size paddle should I be rocking?’ Tez Plavenieks explains how to navigate these tricky subjects.

Small versus big

Back when stand up paddle boarding was but a young buck boards were more akin to Redwood logs, paddles overly long and kit generally cumbersome and severely lacking in performance. Fast forward to today and we’re constantly bombarded with media declaring how small your SUP needs to be or how small you should set your fins. It’s easy to end up confused; believing you should be riding gear lightweight pros.
There are a few things to consider when browsing for new kit. Where do you normally ride? What are your waves like (generally)? What’s your style and what are your SUP aspirations? It’s no good choosing a super small stick, micro fins and an extremely narrow paddle if you’re a racer – likewise, forget plus 9ft SUPs if you a budding wave aerialist.

Surf SUP

Your location, wave type and riding style should be the determining factors when choosing the type of set up you ride.
As a general rule of thumb, small mushy waves require sub 9ft surf SUPs – specific sizes are then based on rider weight – if you want to be able to rip, shred tear and punt. Anything bigger simply doesn’t have the rail to rail manoeuvrability required for nippy/slashy surfing. Speed is your friend in and big logs will drag, slow you down and make stomping those big moves much harder– if not impossible.
Flip the script and those looking for longboard nose riding performance will need something that’s equally accommodating. A longer ‘full in the nose’ SUP will give the rider more chance of getting 10 over before banking into a drop knee swooping turn.
If you’re a big wave charger then performance surf SUPs around 9ft would be a good bet. Once waves hit overhead sizes they’re generally moving faster and you’ll need an extra bit of length to promote gliding speed and get you in early. Narrower tails and increased rockers are also good ideas – you want to avoid nasty spin out situations if possible otherwise poundings will be common.

Racing and downwind

Long and narrow stand up paddle boards glide more efficiently and cover distance quicker. Therefore if you’re into racing or downwinding a 14ft SUP would be the go. The only reason to choose something around 12.6ft (for racing at least) is the competitiveness of class. Width also needs to be taken into account as narrower boards are trickier to pilot in choppy conditions.
Storage and transport issues do crop up with longer boards, in which case, consider an inflatable. iSUPs offer a level of performance that’s fine for most SUPers.

Fins

I’m a massive fan of swapping fin set ups depending on what type of performance I’m after. The general rule is smaller for more skate style SUP surfing performance while bigger delivers more drive, speed and grip. There are infinitely more traits that affect fins – hit up K4 Fins for advice and They’ll steer you in the right direction.
In small waves I’ll stick my small foils in the box while bigger skegs will give me better carving performance when hollow and steeper waves hit.
For racing; it’s much more open to interpretation although bigger is generally better as longer skegs give more efficient straight line tracking. Longer fins also stop your SUP rounding up during downwinders. Racing and coastal running foils are a real minefield and therefore spending time hunting down your perfect combo will pay dividends.
Fins shouldn’t be underestimated and can dramatically change the performance of your stand up paddle board – indulge in a little experimentation and who knows what you’ll discover.

Paddles

SUPers should have at least two paddles in their arsenal – particularly as most sweepers switch between waves and flat water.
Shorter shaft lengths with smaller scoops are usually more suited to surf sessions while slightly (and I emphasise the word slightly) longer shafts and fuller blades are better for downwind and racing. However, this won’t always be the case and only by experimenting will you find your perfect SUP ‘engine’. (If you can only stretch to one type there are now some fine examples of adjustable paddles on the market).
I personally favour a short shaft but fuller blade (with shallow scoop) for SUP surfing – this gives me quicker acceleration for later drops right on the peak – narrow types don’t give me this oomph.
The best advice when looking for performance orientated SUP equipment is to try as much as you can before parting with your dough. However, at some point you’ll have to take a leap of faith – you’re never going to be able to demo all the kit you’d like but you can get a good idea by trying a few different SUP set ups.

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Posted January 7th, 2014 by admin
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Tourists of The Sea II – Punta San Carlos

I love it when the Maui Nerd guys put stuff out, more gold from Kevin Pritchard and Graham Ezzy..

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Posted December 18th, 2013 by admin
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Our new Rocket fins give away!!

Posted December 11th, 2013 by admin
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Recycling

Ever wondered where all our waste yellow plastic goes?
It gets reground and thrown back in the hopper to make our head blankers..

The first pic shows the sprues which are trimmed from each fin moulding. We then regrind them to mould our head blankers. We can’t mould more fins with the regrind as some of it’s strength properties are lost, but it’s ideal for blankers.


Posted December 2nd, 2013 by admin
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Hookipa Lookback

3 minutes of Graham tearing up Hookipa..

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Posted November 21st, 2013 by admin
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Bubble 18″ Freestyle review

Simon Freeman 1
Pic courtesy Simon Freeman

Unconventional – Bubble signature 18” FS fin review

I must admit, I’ve become a bit obsessed by fins of late. Having gone through years of never bothering to tweak anything I’ve become a bit OCD. SUP, surf and wind are all ripe for my tinkering and with so many different styles and types to choose from I think I’ll be busy for a while.
When Mr Thorp (K4 owner) sent me a bunch of ‘yellows’ I was in my element – having so many combos to play with has opened my eyes further to how much of a difference fins play.
For this review I’m looking at the Bubble 18cm signature freestyle fin. This is UK pro freestyle windsurfer Andy ‘Bubble’ Chambers’ own design and I was intrigued to see how it performed in real world conditions.

EFPT bubble

The process

As a hardcore freestyle fin you’d expect me to slippin’ and slidin’ across flat water – getting my flaka, shaka and taka on. But actually no… being dictated to by the latest run of windy UK conditions, and also being a ‘real world’ sailor – not a bendy man pro – I decided to pit the Bubble 18cm against what was on offer. This may be unconventional to some, but I hoped to understand what this fin could do by trying something different.
My local is a diverse (but sometimes annoying) spot that can serve up idyllic conditions one minute and then a junky/crappy chop fest the next. During the course of two weeks I sailed on a 90L board with a 4.2m and 3.7m. At first you may scoff, but I wanted to see how the Bubble 18cm would handle choppy south coast seas and small to moderate waves – conditions the majority of us encounter. Chuck in the opportunity to bang out some sliding moves when flatter spots appeared and what I ended up with was a truly rounded reflection of what this fin can handle.

Simon Freeman 2
Pic courtesy Simon Freeman

Onto the water

At first I was sceptical about the Bubble 18cm as I thought I’d be struggling to hold a straight line, let alone be able to make use of the fun but mushy waves. My first session was a full power affair offering up some waist high ramps to launch off and bash. I was taken aback by how controlled and composed the 18cm K4 skeg made the ride. Gripping well, planing early and clawing upwind with ease, at no point did this feel like a freestyle fin.
The real revelation, however, was when I dropped in to my first bottom turn. Wanting to truly test the K4; I didn’t hold back when banking onto a rail. Obviously, due to the board as much as anything, I was never going to be super critical off the bottom, but none the less it held fast and projected me back up to the lip with a decent amount of speed.
Off the top was a joy as with the redirect being either a swooping arc, or, after pushing a bit harder, a fanging tail slide – sometimes finishing it as an upwind (flat) wave 360. Stoke and smiles didn’t even come close…
Heading back out and chucking a few full power spocks showed me why it’s a great freestyle weapon – breaking free and allowing me to spin and win with ease. Rotating through a few loops the Bubble 18cm caught hold of the water upon landing with no side slip or loss of traction – something else that surprised.

Simon Freeman 3
Pic courtesy Simon Freeman

Final thoughts

I was truly astounded by how well the K4 Bubble 18cm fin performed in these types of conditions. The skeg would make a great choice for anyone who only has access to limited gear and looking for superior control in typical south coast conditions. If you have a wave board then this won’t even enter the equation. This windy environment did highlight the foil’s diversity and proves that modern bits of windsurfing equipment are incredibly well designed.
For the avid freestyler it goes without saying the Bubble 18cm will work for you. If it handles small, mushy waves and chop then flat water spinning is always going to be a breeze. If you’re looking at a new bunch of fins for your windy gear then check out more in the K4Fins shop.

bubble_US

Tez Plavenieks is a freelance writer who loves windsurfing, SUP, surfing, snowboarding, drums, art and beer. If he’s not out sliding sideways then you’ll find him creating articles, stories and content revolving around his passions. Check out more at www.tezplavenieks.com

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