The proper surfboard fin setup will do wonders to improve your surfing because the setup affects your stability and maneuverability. There are two considerations when determining your fin setup; you can match the fin setup to your board or you can match it to the waves you ride. Ultimately you want to do both, but you need to start with one or the other. Here’s what you need to know to select the proper fins to match your board, from the experts at Tactics.
Surfboard Fin SetUp
“Ever wonder why some surfboards have five fins, while others get away with just one? Simply put, there are countless setup possibilities, but only two major factors that greatly impact fin schemes: combined surface area and placement on the board.
The surface area of the fins – remember, we’re talking about all of the fins added up – affects the way that the board feels and how easy it is to control. Greater fin area provides more control and stability, but also drags the board down. Less fin area gives the board more speed, but makes it more difficult to control.
Fin placement makes a difference in the way the board will respond and turn. It’s easier to make tight, sharp turns with the fins placed closer to the center of the board (lengthwise), because the axis of the movement is more balanced. However, while it may be easier to turn, it is harder to control forward-set fins. If you need more balance and drive, you should try a board with fins placed closer to the tail. You’ll feel more stable on the board, but turns will be wider and the board will feel stiffer.
Here are some explanations and suggestions for a few different types of fin setups:
ONE FIN (a.k.a. Single Fin)
Single fins are typical on longboards, as well as on beginning surfboards. The idea behind the single fin is to provide stability and control. Unfortunately, the increased control also means a sacrifice in performance, as the movements that a single fin allows are restricted to sweeping turns and straight-lined charges.
TWO FINS (a.k.a. Twin-Fin)
Twin-fin boards are harder to control in large waves but offer good maneuverability in smaller conditions. They are usually found on shortboards and fish boards, because the two-fin setup encourages speed.
THREE FINS (a.k.a. Thruster)
The thruster setup is the most common, and is found on all kinds of boards. It performs well under most ocean conditions, lending a stable feel to a maneuverable board. The outside fins are flat on the inside to increase drive, while the center fin is foiled normally. Additionally, the outer fins are toed-in to speed up the board and allow it to turn more easily. A thruster set-up is the go-to choice for most shapers. “
If you’re looking for more information on fin setup, check Tactics’ Guide To Surfboard Fins by clicking here.
Of course, if you ride a Tuna, you won’t even need to worry about the surfboard fin setup. Not sure what a Tuna is? Read about it here.