The humble fin is an afterthought for some surfers. Many just stick to whatever basic set they got given with the board. The smart ones realise the right fins are the key to unlocking your boards performance. The range is huge and by experimenting you’ll notice a difference. Here’s some of the best on the market right now.
So many fins so little time!
With variations of foil, base, rake, flex, cant and toe being thrown into an ever increasing amount of choice of boards it’s easy to see why people get confused about fins.
They can make or break a board – a great board with the wrong fins can surf like a dog, similarly what you think is a bad board can be transformed just by changing fins.
In recent times we have seen people recommending signature fins to other surfers unhappy with the way their board rides, but it is not as simple as a good fin v a bad fin. You can’t surf like a Jedi just because your fin has a light sabre printed on it!
To try and simplify things here our some easy to use top tips from Johnny Purton based on knowledge gathered over years tested on variety of shapes.
Your fins are only part of the equation, not the solution this is a guide of possibilities!
Use a base set of fins as a standard to work from – your favourite fins are best, the less complicated the fin the better. That way you can compare the way fins work on different boards on a like for like basis.
Common faults fins can fix are: board being too loose, too stiff, lack of drive, tracking, too loose in tail (sliding), or too tight in the tail.
Too loose – bigger fins, larger base, more rake. In general you can just move up a size to keep things simple. More rake will draw out your turns more. A larger base adds drive.
Lack of drive – if you’re happy with the boards hold (it isn’t spinning out) but feel it isn’t drivey enough try bigger front fins. If you like the sensitivity through the turnaround, but want more projection try more rake.
Concave bottom shaped boards – Flat inside foiled fins work great on boards with highly concave bottom shapes, but sometimes give too much hold for channel bottoms.
Flat bottomed boards – Inside foiled fins work great on flat bottomed boards, or with vee into tail and anything with channels.
If the board feels tight in the tail area – like it is pivoting too far back. If the board is super drivey try smaller fins with more flex. If the drive feels OK or reduce the size of the back fin.
Twin fins – With twin fins, basically it is a matter of size. Bigger fins for drive, small to loosen up the board. If the board feels like the rail is being pulled into the face reduce your fins size, or try a fin with more inside foil.
Quads – To test quads use the same standard front fins (to keep the drive the same) with another set of smaller quad rear fins. Use this as your standard set up chopping and changing until you find a perfect. Don’t be afraid to mix and match fins. Larger front fins, smaller trailers, smaller front fins larger trailers.
FLAT SIDED FIN VERSUS INSIDE FOILED FIN
Flat foils break free sooner and are better for controlling speed, use them in fast powerful surf where you don’t need to generate additional speed. Flat foils will feel closest to glass ons.