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CHANGING YOUR FINS = PERFORMANCE

I’ve been messing around for a few years with fins on SUP’s with some interesting results so here’s what i’ve found out on my journey!
3 fin Thruster (2+1) SUPS
The fins of the 2+1 or Thruster SUP take the rigid stability of a classic longboard fin being the (1), and fuses with the strength and drive of a Tri-fin which in short means combined ability for carving turns and providing control and drive off the (2) side fins, hence 2+1
Changing the size of the side fins will loosen the board in waves , but it is the center fin which can truly transform the boards stability and performance.A large Center fin will make the board stable in flat water but harder to turn in waves, beginner paddlers will appreciate this in flat water or conditions where there maybe wind or chop but getting stuck into waves and trying to turn your brand new 11ft SUP can be challenging to say the least.
The noserider fin is a big beast making turning the board more difficult, but its size anchors the tail so if running to the nose to get your first HANG 5 or 10 is the idea , then look no further you’ll have to try very hard to bust it out for a intentional 360!

A small center fin however will change the boards performance in waves and allow for easier turning.
There are many fins on the market so which one do you choose, if you are a seasoned surfer the answer is simplier than you thought.
The FCS longboard box adaptor can utilize your collection of FCS fins and the transition can be cheaper and easier

FIN BOX placement
I don’t have the science, I just play around with where the center fin sits in the box, I have had great sessions with the center fin close to the rear of the side fins – this seems to be better in suckier faster waves , in Slower waves I like to bring the fin further back. It depends how and where you SUP.

FIN SHAPE & SIZE
I have played around with various different center fin setups from smaller center fins to larger side fins and also funky looking ones.
You could set center fins into 3 categories : Stable, noseriding and Looseness
As a rule of thumb for SUP surfing the larger and more surface area the fin has the harder it will be to turn, but this will mean it will be more stable in flat water, there has to be a compromise.
Fin size should be more or less the same length as your board but in inches ie 10ft board = 10 inch fin

For an allround setup choose a stable center fin

For a loose and drivey setup choose  a funky fin


The 7 ” cutaway center fin (above left) I’m currently using on my 9’2 volt offers me lots drive off the bottom but a really nice skaty feeling off the top of the wave which means I can throw the tail around and sometimes even slide it out !
I have been trying to get my first SUP 360 for a while now and with this fin in the center, running to the nose and twisting my torso towards the tail helps me coax the tail out of the face and start the slippery slide down the face finless !
A smaller center fin will decrease your overall speed making you work harder for it by paddling and hot doggin.

Quad fin SUP’s
Quad fin SUP’s are in my opinion faster and more responsive than thrusters and offer different turning possibilities. They work in both big and small surf and boast versatility when coupled with multiple fin set ups. Many new SUP boards now come with five fin slots so surfers can opt for twin, quad, or thruster combinations like the COREBAN below

With Quad fin SUP’s you have many configurations to play around with which can make each session like trying a new board which is why they are my favourite.
Once you’re used to your boards fin setup and feel like your getting somewhere with it , I applaud you to try new fins, this can make you understand the board and how you can juice a better turn or take off on the peak and make that section you never would have attempted before.
Its also exhilarating to find out new performance attributes from the board you’ve learnt with or considered trading in.

This picture shows a set of canted flat foiled Kitesurfing race fins which so happen to fit the fin boxes on my Drops 8’11 vulcan and the 10’2 Greedy with great success.
The cant of a fin is the angle it makes in relation to the bottom of the surfboard. A fin that sticks straight up, perfectly perpendicular to the board’s base contour, is said to have a no cant. Canted fins point outwards, toward the rails of the board. Increasing the fins’ cant leads to a more responsive board through turns, while decreasing the cant (bringing it closer to 90°) makes the board faster, especially when traveling in a straight line.

With these fins I have felt increased manoeuvrability and a tighter turner arc which is what everyone wants on their SUP right!.The speed of the board has increased in flat water and waves, it even feels like the board is 10% lighter in the water, I put this down to the lifting effect of these fins like a hydrofoil on the tail. I have played around with the full set and just 2 in either the front and back boxes & my personal favourite is 2 in the front boxes with 2 conventional smaller fins in the tail.
Im not saying they’ll work for everyone and I would definately not want to be on the receiving end of a fin slash by these babies they’re sharp!! but it just goes to show how trying a set of kiteboarding fins which so happen to fit my SUP board has opened up different performance qualities in the boards I ride with them and also more confidence in waves of all sizes.

So…. get experimenting
If your board does not have these fin boxes FCS have a range of fins which will probably change your boards performance, The 3D redtip is a funny looking fin which was produced for the surf giving lift and drive in junky conditions.

Check these FCS H2 fins which also are canted and heralded the most hydronamically advanced fin on the market!

Buy FCS 3D fin HERE !!

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2 Comments
  1. Hi I have a starboard pod. Which I have put a few different fins in to I have never tried canted out ones. I would love to have a bit of extra speed especially in the more mushy waves we get on the south coast. The pod is a quad fin set up. From what your saying here canted fins would give me that bit of extra speed ???

    Great inf o thanks Barry

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