This is an underdog story plain and simple and we know that everyone, including Hollywood producers, go for these. A real, blow your mind away piece of fiction is always good to inspire hope in the loins of our souls. This story, however, is deeply rooted in fact and contains less fiction than the statement “The water is wet”. This narrative is about a man who has never surfed yet managed to design and produce a surfboard fin that might just be the best fin we have ever tried. Wanna know more? I don’t blame you. Let's start at the beginning.
Jose Calado is one of the world's good guys. He had a dream which was taking the plastic from the beach and recycling it into something useful. In this case, we are talking about surfboard fins. It turns out that the plastic from the beach did not have the right flex pattern, stiffness so Jose experimented with industrial plastics such as the waste from the automotive industry and machine building. He hit gold, they worked and very well.
Nic (our surf doctor) tested and wrote about a quad set of these recycled plastic Marlin Fins in the ample test-ground of Surf Snowdonia’s Wavegarden. He liked them, hells, we all liked them. If you want to read about that for some backstory you can find it here.
Marlin Fins was born out of the need to do something right. To use an amazing resource, which is plastic waste, and make something functional and with real value to every surfer on the planet. Fins for your surfboard and not just ‘okay fins’, these things work very well indeed. However there was more to come, we had yet to test the ‘pièce de résistance’ of the Marlin Fin range.
The Nine Inch Sinbad Fin
Being so impressed with the performance of the quad set and at Jose’s request we thought it might be cool to test what he called ‘the best fin he makes’. The nine inch Sinbad single fin, which he developed with the help of longboard masters Lufi, looks like a pretty all-round fin. The flex is relatively stiff and has (as most Marlin Fins do) a marbled effect which comes from the colours of the recycled plastic used to make it. No two fins are the same.
To be completely honest (and we like to be) I had no real expectations of this fin, given that the price point is relatively low, it’s plastic and I am something of a self confessed fin snob. Preferring the pretty glossed handmade fibreglass classics of proven shapes, this Marlin Fin was going to have to be pretty good to impress me.
This fin will be going up against Yater, Greenough, Joel Tudor and a few custom fins I have had made. A tough draw, I hear you mutter. Well, maybe not so much.
Testing the Sinbad
A functional little swell was forecast with some off-shores. Our office teaboy and his girlfriend set to meet me on the beach for a morning session before day dawned on another key tapping frenzy that has become my everyday existence. I popped out my daily runner which was a 9 inch Joel Tudor Karma and slid on the completely plastic Marlin Fin. It did feel a bit… well plasticy, the marbled effect was beautiful and kind of helped me ‘get over myself’ about the aesthetics.
Rolling down the hill to the point, I saw there was a little more swell than I thought and I found myself having some misgivings about swapping out the Joel Tudor, a fin that I knew working very well. Giving myself a mental slap in the face, I resigned to the fact that this would be a ‘proper’ test for the plastic, and very much underdog, Sinbad from Marlin Fins.
Our tea-boy and his girlfriend were on a fish and a rather nice looking egg both shaped by BOSS surfboards in the UK, I was on my 8’8 displacement hull pin tail that is one of the (weirdly) best boards I have ever ridden. The build quality is terrible but the shape and performance is just next level if you are about the smiles and the stoke. I knew this board and it knew me, it is one of my closest fibreglass friends and these were exactly the sort of conditions it eats for breakfast. My stoke hackles were up, and with the smell of salt and wax in my nostrils I paddled out with some wingmen, or more accurately, wing people.
I surfed, it was a thunderous, mouth curling at the corners type of surf, you know,just happening across lumps of water on the paddle back out. There were envious looks and I decided to slow down and offer to swap boards, share the love. More stoked ensued by the others and after twenty minutes and I wanted the board back. ‘One more’ was the cry over the shoulder as a mate took off and got another perfect one. The board and the fin were at one, the planets aligned. Stoke was had.
Eventually, and maybe one hundred waves later, I resigned myself to the fact that my body might need to stop, brain still buzzing and searching for more. Shore-bound and dripping with happiness I remembered that I was supposed to be testing that fin. I really didn’t notice any lack in any area, extremely impressive.
The Marlin Sinbad 9 inch has remained in my board since the initial test run 2 months ago, the Joel Tudor thrown aside. It is my new daily runner and it works surprisingly well in all conditions, is comparable if not better (which is hard to say) than the other fins I use and have already mentioned above.
After two months of having this fin in my board, I can ‘hand on my heart’ say that currently, I am not planning to change it out.
In the interest of full testing, I am going to slide the Sinbad into a different board with a little less volume and see how it performs. I will keep you posted on how that goes.
Fin options and Prices
There are unlimited colours available in the 9’0 Sinbad, you can get them from Marlin Fins online shop and the price is a very reasonable 37 Euros. If you are in the Peniche area, pop into Peniche Surf Shop and see the whole range there.
There is also a 7’0 version that we have yet to test which comes in at 25 Euros.
Normally when writing a review I like to try and pick out at least a couple of things that could be done better, even in every product. This is a first for me, I can’t think of a single thing that could be done better. The performance has far exceeded my expectations, the ethos of the company and the eco-ness of the fin are a ten out of ten. I can quite happily say that this is the single best product we have tested.
9’ Sindbad from Marlin Fins = 10 / 10
There we have it, the first ever ten we have given out. Well done to Jose and the team. I know what I am going to be buying my family for Christmas...