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.
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.
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.
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.
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