Dazzler digs deep on the Blade 4
It is almost 15 years since Winmau turned the dream of a complete, staple free dartboard into reality and The Blade Series was born. Winmau celebrates its 65th anniversary with Darryl “The Dazzler” Fitton talking to Lee Huxtable about the new Blade 4 – the Fourth Generation of Winmau’s Blade dartboard.
Dazzler: So what’s the background to Blade 4?
Lee: ”We’re always looking for ways to improve our products. It’s only by continual improvement that we’ll deliver the latest innovation and technology to dart players. The new Blade 4 takes staple free technology to a completely new level and I’m dreading trying to improve on it!”
Dazzler: We’re all used to playing Blade 3 at ranked events. What’s new about Blade 4?
Lee: The obvious difference is the wiring system, specifically the double and treble wires. These are now over 50% thinner creating a larger target area of sisal for you to hit. There’s also been lots of development work gone into the actual base of the dartboard.
Dazzler: So can we expect higher averages?
Lee:” Absolutely. Blade 4 minimises bounce outs for higher scoring. The reduction of DSW thickness together with improved molecular structure and form of the wire means that we’ve managed to increase the fibre exposure in the treble and double areas by a massive 11.1 %
Dazzler: Sounds great but what’s “DSW” and “Improved Molecular Structure”?
Lee: “DSW is ‘Dynamic Sector Wire’, basically the double and treble wires. These are now constructed and assembled using aerospace specification technology which wasn’t available 5 years ago. This allows us to hold manufacturing tolerances at incredibly accurate and consistent levels.
Improved Molecular Structure is the way the actual wire is formed. An advanced cold rolling process alters the grain size and flow of the high carbon steel increasing the hardness and tensile strength characteristics of the wire.”
Dazzler: The board looks really clean and bright have you painted the white fibre?
Lee: “No!! All Winmau dartboards are made in Kenya, home to the world’s best sisal. Blade 4 uses a new grade of fibre, specifically selected for maximum consistency in fibre density and durability. We’ve also worked on refining our inks to give the most clarity and durability for today’s heavy play environments.
Dazzler: Are today’s player’s demands that much different then?
Lee: “Yes they are – record prize funds have led to longer practice times, higher standards and far more focused impacts on boards in concentrated areas. The boards are subject to play from a far wider range of darts than ever before – common weights are now joined by darts as light as 10 grams and as heavy as 48 grams and also a variety of different points. Todays dartboards have to deal with these variations as a game lost because of a “drop out” is just as bad as a game lost due to a “bounce out”.
Dazzler: So how does the Blade 4 combat the “Drop Out”?
Lee: Every Winmau dartboard contains over 2 million sisal fibres, each individually treated and compressed to a bursting pressure of over 10 tonnes. Blade 4 features our unique sisal lubricant to help smooth entry and withdrawal of the dart. This combined with stricter density control creates our best ever dartboard base that minimizes drop outs. We call it SDS - Super Dense Sisal.
Dazzler: You’ve just launched the Blade 4 at the Winmau World Masters. How did you test the new technology?
Lee:” Blade 4 is the “Fourth Generation” in this series of Blade boards. We’ve had many years experience of R&D and pre-market testing. All new products undergo rigorous testing before launch and Blade 4 is no exception. Blade 4 has been tested for over 12 months and had no less 3 million darts thrown at it in all areas, with the results carefully recorded and analysed.
Thanks must also go to all of our sponsored players, including you, who put the board through hours and hours of Pro- standard testing.
Dazzler: With all these improvements does the Blade 4 comply with WDF regulations?
Lee: Absolutely, there is only one internationally recognised standard for dartboard specs and that’s set by the World Darts Federation. The Blade 4 complies with every detail, so you know whenever the game is played on a Winmau board, whether at home, in the local league or in a major tournament such as the Winmau World Masters or Lakeside World Championships the dimensions are all the same size.
Dazzler: Okay, but with all this improvement surely it costs more?
Lee: Ha ha no!! It’s exactly the same price as the Blade 3 not a penny more. With big demand we could have charged more, but it’s important we help grow the sport throughout the world by making the best darts equipment affordable to everyone.
The Winmau Blade 4 debuted at the Winmau World Masters in October, and can be seen live on BBC TV at the Lakeside World Championships in January 2011.
Available from all leading darts stockists.