Fin setup recommendations for large paipo

Long time, no post…

So I got a request to make 2 bodyboards large enough to paddle into waves with without swim fins. Remembering JohnMellor’s hoop fin paipo, I asked him for measurememtns, and he was kind enough to send me an outline template on paper (thanks John!). This was almost 8 months + ago, and I finally have gotten the chance to actually build these things. Here’s what they look like so far:

outline and rocker (nose is to the right for the rocker shot):


[EDIT]: Length: 5’5"

Nose: 19"

Mid: 22 3/8"

Tail: 18 7/8"

Thickness: 2 3/4"

Bottoms are flat from mid to tail, one of them has a slight belly in the nose to mid area with upturned rails in the nose, all other rails 60/40 tucked and more down in the tail.

My question is: How would you fin them?


[EDIT]: They will mainly be used in small TX waves, hence the chubby foil…

Shouldn’t this be on the hull thread?

Those guys’ll stick a 9’’ flex in there and stand up on that!

IMO, stick FCS plugs all over the place and make bunches of little runners for belly-riding.

You can sell the customers a new set of fins every week.

Welcome back, btw. You been studyin’?

yeah, how long is that thing?

Hey biz, no joke, I forgot to mention the length, what a dumbass I am. they are both 5’5"

Hey Mike, yes, my proverbial ass off, and now I am free until July 7th, when the real fun (and pimping/hazing) begins…

I have 6 boxes total available, and I plan to go at least twin with each board (+ trailer?), but I am clueless as to position; I would hazard a guess that where fish keels go would be a start. My main concerns are toe and cant. Since they will mainly live their lives in a straight line, I was thinking no toe if I use symmetrical fins, and 2.5 degrees toe if I use flat-inside fins. Unfortunately, I do not have time to make a set or two of fins for these…

I guess if you really want less drag, you could just use one fin on the center/inside or no fins at all…

I have no clue on cant…and I already have the boxes, otherwise I’d use 4wfs or ProBox to experiment…


A set of shallow twin keels installed near the rear corners should suffice. That’s where Simmons mounted some of his fins.

I’d set them parallel and straight up. Not sure what kind of boxes you have but several fin companies have nice twin keels.

Keep in mind that by arching your back, dragging a leg and grabbing the forward rails you can really yank one of those things around.

Here’s mine…

More at:5’6" Hollow Wood Bellyboard

Rip roaring fun…!!!..


I am leaning toward a parallel setup like you describe, maybe a little further forward with a center trailer option…

The boxes are these:

No adjustment, just like FCS plugs but all one box. If these boards were going to be mine, I think I’d go with 4wfs or another adjustable system to play with the fin adjustments, but odds are the person who these are going to won’t be doing much experimentation like I would.

Paul, are the fins on your PAT parallel, or do they have some toe-in? I would guess that’s about 4-5 deg of cant on them as well…


No real advice but, I thought I would pop in to say “STOKED”

That looks really nice. Please update when you do get some

fins and rides on that thing…

Johns’ post #5, above, is VERY sound advice. You would do well to follow it.

Point and advice well taken. Parallel and symmetrical foil will be the call. If I get a chance, maybe I’ll make some fins with some toe-in (change the alignment of the FCS tabs on the fin to see the difference…

Thanks folks, I’ll update with pics as I progress… Here are some shots of them rail banded under the infamous led sidelights:



…are the fins on your PAT parallel, or do they have some toe-in?

Set straight no cant…

It’s definitely settled then, the ayes have it… Thanks everyone for your help, I’ll update as I progress. Will hopefully get a chance to ride them soon.


Bellyboarders on the US right coast favor a 2 + 1 setup on their slab/squash tail boards. With and without toe. If the rider will be sharing waves with bodysurfers, then it’s nice to have boxes that will take Protec fins. Here’s some boards Austin has been making based on some of Rod Roger’s boards:

I think keeping the options flexible is the go. Then again, also try the board without any fins.


The boards may not need fins at all. As a kid (early 60s) I rode thick styrofoam “ThunderBoard” model that was widely available in all drugstores. It had two “runners” maybe 18" long and only 2" or less deep. The runners minimum thickness was likely an inch or so. No foil whatsoever.

Think… if these will be used by beginners to grovel in small mushy shorebreak, they don’t need much. Fin(s) of any depth will be run into the sand and broken off soon enough, and your time and effort wasted. Not to mention all the wizard technology those broken bits represent.

I would (strongly) glass on some shallow runners and let it be sufficient. Anything more, for the apparent application, is just polishing the pig. Not every “problem” need have a high-tech solution. In view of this, some of the above is rediculous overkill.

I ride a variety of different waves types and sizes, like the down the line speed capabilities of parallel lines in a paipo (and straight side bite boxes), but also like to carve and go rail-to-rail (favors toe in). I tend to compromise on this. My solution is to use rather small side bites, relative to those on a short board or twin-fins on a kneeboard – custom made 2.25" or turbo tunnel 1.75". My center fin, usually ranging from 5" to 6.5", is moved forward and aft depending upon wave conditions (size and hollowness). Unlike many people with large quivers I usually ride and travel with one board and a few fins – my local DelMarVa and Hatteras breaks and on my annual trips to Puerto Rico and Costa Rica (throw in some off and on Hawaii, N. Oregon and San Diego County). Poobah provided a link to my most recent board, an Austin-built paipo to my specifications.

Thought y’all might be interested in this. I posted it on surfmatz a few days ago.

Last Sunday was the first Paipo Expression Session Held in honor of Chris Harazda, paipo rider, free spirit and spiritual beacon

to his friends. Chris passed away suddenly earlier this year while out surfing. The event was held at the Cocoa Beach Surf Museum’s Annual Waterman’s Challenge weekend.This was probably the biggest gathering of paipo riders ever in Florida and included Chris’ wife Jan, Rod Rogers of My Paipo Boards website, and many of his friends. I was the lone surfmat representative, though I think I may have made a new convert Although the the waves were the typically small Florida surf every one had great fun during the session and afterwards we moved down the beach for more surfing and sampling of each others equipment. It was so much fun that we decided to make it an annual event for the WMC. I hope you enjoy the pics.

Poobah/rodntube: I have visited rodntube’s site often, great stuff! It looks like for sure I’ll have the 2 fins, but future boards for myself will have more for sure…

Honolulu: You’re right, the board may not need fins, but the customer requested fins, so I’ll make them removable. I’ll advise the customer to remove the fins if the waves are below 3’.

Here are the 2 sets of fins I am making for these. They are 9100mm^2 in area, Aspect Ratio 1, Taper Ratio 0.65, Foil SD7037. The only difference between then is sweep/rake. One has zero, one has 40 degrees. I would use a symmetrical foil, but it was the only template I had on hand at the time…

Here are pics of the first two of them out of the bag and rough sanded (they will eventually be painted to match the boards):

My question for the experts:

The fins are bagged with 3 layers of 4oz each side. They are made of Spyderfoam XPS, with a 1/8" balsa root ‘rib’ that wou can see at the fin base. How would you attach FCS tabs, and what would you make the tabs out of?

The boards are glassed, hotcoated and sanded, and I’m going to give them a light cheater coat before I go test them this weekend. I did finish the fins, though…

I finished putting tabs on the vac-bagged fins, and they are pretty damn light, check this out:

The scale reads 3.275 ounces (~100g) for all 4 fins! Granted, I do not expect them to be that strong because of the construction, but several things came together for me to make them this way:

  1. I know how to hotwire foils pretty well (I only have to touch up the leading edges and tips after hotwiring and out of the bag; no hand-foiling!)

  2. I wanted to see what vac-bagging was all about (very cool and easy to do btw!)

  3. I wanted to see just how durable I could make a set of featherweight fins.

  4. I was told by the customer that these boards would mainly be wall-hangers (so I can go all out on paint/graphics/gloss!)

If I wanted to make the fins stronger, I would have dissolved the XPS out with xylene or acetone and backfilled with epoxy/micro. They would have been heavier, but much stronger…