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Surfboard fins and types of surfboard fin setups can come across as a bit confusing when you first start surfing. But the reality is that they’re really quite simple.
This article will discuss the five different types of surfboard fin setups. It will also be pointing out what each setup offers the rider, as well as the type of surfboard each setup typically features on.
Single Fin Setup
Starting with the OG, the single fin.
Created by none other then Tom Blake almost 100 years ago, this traditional fin setup now only really gets used on modern day longboards.
Its purpose is to provide great straight line speed and the ability to perform controlled, elegant turns. With only one fin under the board there’s less ‘stuff’ to get in the way of the water, meaning there’s almost no drag. The single fin setup is therefore useful in smaller surf but it requires a bit more paddling to get up to speed.
Twin Fin Setup
Giving the surfboard a bit more of everything is the twin fin setup.
Pioneered by Bob Simmons and his Spoon, the twin fin setup is most commonly found on fish surfboards.
When surfboards began to get shorter, surfers found it harder to generate speed by paddling. This is where the twin fin setup comes in. With great hydrodynamics and the ability to manoeuvre quickly, surfers were able to create their own speed.
However, this setup is not without its faults. Although it held a better line across the face of a wave compared to a single fin setup, they’re still not the setup for big hollow waves. In today’s hollow wave world, two fins just don’t offer the traction needed to stop surfboards sliding out beneath surfers.
If it’s big hollow waves you’re after the next setup is a much better fin setup…
Thruster / Three Fin Setup
Now to the most popular surfboard fin setup used today, the thruster.
This fin setup was created in 1981 by Simon Anderson to solve one of his own surfing problems.
Anderson noticed that his twin fin surfboard kept sliding out from beneath him in bigger conditions. After a frustrating session between the breakers, he noticed a friend using a single fin with two much smaller fins alongside it. He then decided to try three regular sized fins in a similar setup to his friend and so the thruster was born.
Andersons’ thruster became an instant success winning him three tour events in 1981. Since then his thruster has gone on to become the most commonly used surfboard fin setup used today. With its perfect combination of manoeuvrability, line holding capabilities and speed, its easy to see why.
If you’re unsure about which surfboard fin setup to use, you can’t go wrong with this one. To check out some of our great thruster fins click HERE.
2+1 / Three Fin Setup
Closer to the single fin setup than the thruster setup we have the three finned 2+1 setup.
This setup was primarily designed to give the bigger surfboards using a single fin setup more stability on steeper waves. The setup utilises two small tracking fins either side of the larger central fin. Surfboards using this setup are able to generate the speed of a single fin setup whilst improving overall traction on bigger waves.
With this fin setup turns are more controlled compared to using a single fin setup, which can help beginners when they’re first starting out. This is a winter alternative to the single fin as it helps to control those bigger winter swells.
Quad / Four Fin Setup
Now onto the setup built for speed, the quad fin setup.
The setup design has been attributed to both Glenn ‘Mr X’ Winton and Pete ‘The Friar’ Ware, so it’s hard to tell who came up with it first. What we do know is it was developed in the 1980’s.
Perfect for those smaller days, the fin placement creates that extra bit of speed to make the most of small conditions. With the manoeuvrability of a twin fin and the line holding capabilities of a thruster, the quad setup quickly rose to fame.
If you like speed and power turns this is the setup you’re after. To check out some awesome quad fins click HERE.
Bonzer 5 Fin / Five Fin Setup
Last but not least is our final fin setup, the bonzer 5 fin.
The design was developed in 1983 by the the Campbell brothers and later drip fed into the market in the early 1990’s.
Now, surfboards with five fin boxes are not necessarily surfed with all five fins at once. The five fin boxes allow the surfer to change their setups in anyway without changing their surfboard. If all five fin boxes are utilised it’s normally using a combination of large and small fins, like in the image below.
The bonzer 5 fin setup has the characteristics of a single fin surfboard with additional stability in bigger conditions. The tracking fins give the board the extra stability but take away from the single fins turning ease. It’s easier to ride steeper waves but gives a more rigid feel than a single fin or even a 2+1 setup.
Check out some sweet bonzer 5 fins HERE.
So there we have it guys, all the types of surfboard fin setups. Understandable confusing at first but when you take a closer look it’s fairly simple stuff.
If you’re a beginner and are still unsure the standard thruster setup is the all round good egg. Don’t feel like you need to stick one surfboard fin setup either. If you’re able to change it up, try the other setups to see which one suits your style the most.
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Recommended next read: ‘Types of Surfboard Noses and Tails’
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