It’s not until you have mastered surfing along a wave face that you are even going to notice changes to a fin set up. So until then just make sure your board has fins, any old fins, and you’ll be fine! If you have an old board it might only have one big fin…perfect!
The original role of a fin was to stabilise your board and stop it from slipping all over the wave face. They have since evolved into a high tech piece of equipment designed to not only provide stability, but to totally enhance your surfing experience.
From fixed rubber fins on foam boards (designed to handle being ridden into the shallows) to removable, interchangeable fin systems on high performing thrusters, there is a range of shapes, sizes and materials to suite different purposes.
The following gives you a little heads up on the basic considerations with removable fins.
“have you tried different fins?”
FCS and FUTURE fins are the main players in removable fin systems. They have slight variances in their screw/click in systems, therefore your surfboard’s fin box (where the fins slot into) is only set up for either one or the other and not both brands.
Whichever system your surfboard has, the beauty is you have the option to play around with size, set up and shape as much or as little as you like.
It’s worth noting that a simple change in the size of your fins can potentially make a big difference to your surfing experience. A common question asked amongst surfers (who can ride the face of a wave and do turns) experiencing difficulties is “have you tried different fins?”
There are thousands of options when it comes to what fins to try and you can make it as simple or technical as you like. The main 3 factors are size, set up and material.
The larger the fin, the less responsive it is, but the more stability your board will have. Watch any surfer who has mastered the art of riding a single fin. Their turns are slower, longer and drawn out. That one large fin of theirs is a perfect match for their style of surfing.
Finding a good fit can begin (and end) with establishing the appropriate fin size for your body weight.
If you are in between sizes, consider your ability. For example, if you are a beginner and are in between size M and L, it could be a good idea to pick L for the added stability.
quad, Twin, Tri…which set up?
Once you have decided on a size, examine your board’s fin configuration. Your board will be outfitted with 1 to 5 fin boxes.
From here you have options to experiment with different set ups (such as a quad or twin fin set up). Within this you can play around with size combinations, such as 2 bigger fins on the outside and a regular size fin in the middle.
Or you keep it simple and have all matching fin sizes.
and then there are different materials…
Keep things simple and go for the cheapest and most basic materials (such as plastic) to start. If you are riding wave faces and doing turns, then it could be worth investigating some of the different elements of a fin, such as it’s material, weight, stiffness, flex, thickness and shape. Keeping in mind your ability, surfing style and the size waves that you ride.
so how do I combine all these factors into a good fit for me?
The evolving nature of surfing and surf craft is rapid. Within it all there is quick and easy direction from the experts who know it best.
In order to make life simple, I am going to lead you directly to the experts in order to find simple, quick answers and good direction. FCS has an online tool to help you decipher a good fit fin. FUTURE and FCS both have to-the-point video clips outlining their product features. Easy.
Alternatively, fin packs in surf shops and online state their weight match and exactly what they are designed to do for a board. Some surf shops may even lend out ‘demo’ fins for you to try before committing.
So there it is. There door to fins is now wide open and ready for you to head into, now, or whenever your surfing is ready.