The WhisperFin Explained

After years of analyzing a vast array of ski setups for skiers of all levels all over the world, a consistent pattern of issues became apparent. And no matter what I did with the bindings, wing and fin, there was nothing I could do to overcome these issues. Eventually, it became apparent that the standard fin was the problem. While it’s just too big for quick turn initiation, the real problem is how abruptly it hooks up through the finish of turns. And these problems affect skiers at all levels of the sport.

Effective fin area increases as the ski rolls flatter out of turns, causing a spike in tail traction and a skill-testing challenge for the skier

As the ski rolls flatter exiting turns, the fin grabs and and the ski stops turning. If this happens too early, the ski jets ahead, leaving the skier on their back leg with no angle or power. If the fin hooks up too late into too much angle, the tip pops up into a big space-wasting wheelie, or the enormous load pops the handle. The only defense against these unwanted ski behaviors is perfect timing and a precarious body position as far forward over the front foot as possible without quite going out the front—skill-testing challenges.

Softening this sudden tail hookup is easily accomplished by reducing the fin’s size, but that comes with a downside. Small fins make no power behind the boat. Nearly a year of experimentation went into identifying the most effective shape for small-fin power. And while an optimized shape made a big difference, even the best small shape fell short of the standard fin’s power behind the boat.

Enter the astonishing maneuverability of humpback whales. It turns out that the bumps along the leading edge of the humpback whale’s pectoral fins help maintain laminar flow at very high angles of attack—a problem water ski fins face all the time. Mix in a little aerodynamic vane theory from my auto racing background and voila, the turbulation slots in the WhisperFin. (“Voila” over simplifies it. More like a few boxes full of experimental fins later … )

The result is an incredibly forgiving, easy-turning fin with quicker acceleration than any other fin in the sport—traits that will help skiers of all abilities. And as an added bonus for shortline skiers, this fin’s progressive hook-up out of turns makes it easier to keep the tip down and engaged straight into early, powerful acceleration.

Then came prototype testing with 47 skiers of all skill levels on a wide variety of skis. It was no surprise that good skiers experienced improved performance on every ski tested—including a new national record and international wins on multiple ski brands. The real surprise was how much beginners improved. Beginners don’t achieve maximum lean angles around turns, so their fins remain heavily engaged at all times. Having smaller fins made turning way easier for this group. Tighter turns coupled with easier acceleration helped the majority of our novice testers set personal bests within two sets.

Even setting up this fin is easy. Your current wing angle gauges will work fine (download a free set here if you don’t have any). And you won’t need an expensive, hard to find, 8″ caliper. Any cheap 6″ caliper from your local hardware store can measure its short fin length (FL). In fact, with the instructions that come with your fin, you won’t even need a caliper to fully optimize your ski’s setup.

WhisperFin water ski wingIt’s not hard to see that the manufacturing of these precision fins requires a few extra steps. But the performance improvement is worth it. Even the final step of baking on a durable, sunlight-stable, non-stick, ceramic coating contributes to the speed and character of these unique blades.

It doesn’t matter if you are a novice or an expert, easier turns and quicker acceleration are are sure to make riding your ski more fun.

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