My fin setups ....test rides [ reports]

okay , then …

following a request from Jeff [and, a couple of questions in past threads along these lines , also]…

" Hi Chip,

I was wondering if you could start a thread detailing all those fin set ups you’re experimenting with. Maybe a photo and then your impressions of the ride. If it were up to me, comparing it to a standard thruster as a baseline. "

I will try to provide SOME kind of feedback . I hesitate a bit to do this , because

a] I am no “expert” on fins

b] this could go on FOREVER !!! [and I don’t want to bore people to death]

test boards

The two main boards I have tested different setups in , being my 5’11" ‘prawn’

and my 5’8" “bushfire” [both fish tail boards ]…

test ‘site’

The main testing ground has been mostly my local beachbreak .

This deals up anything from rolling offshore ankle slappers in summer , to well overhead , backwashy , bumpy board snapping , leash busting, hollow , dredgy , grinders in winter [which is what season we currently have , as I write this now. Today being howling onshore and fat , in the chest high sets range … but very little shape , unfortunately . ]

Jeff , I guess the last sentence of your request is something I don’t really have , or ride much … if by a “standard thruster” , [I assume you] mean 6-6’4" x 18-18 3/4" x 2 1/4 - 2 3/8 " , perhaps ? But I left that in there , because I am hoping that others here , who do regularly ride those dimensions thrusters can chip in [hehe …pun]] with their findings . Something to compare to , of course. [Thanks , guys , I would welcome that ! ]

This , I am sure , will be an ongoing thread for a while …computer co-operating , and swell and wind permitting , of course ! [And people not telling me to “stop it !!” hehe ]

The other tricky bit of this thread is that , unfortunately , I never really wrote down my findings after each surf [do people here do that much , I wonder?] . I’m sorry for not doing that , really , because it would certainly make things much easier / quicker than relying on my long term memory [always a worry , as I get older]

Anyway …for now …

I’ll leave it at that , and open it up for anyone’s suggestions / thoughts / comments / feedback / similar findings with THEIR different fin experiments .

I hope I can learn something from each of your experiences / experiments with different fin setups in your board/s , too,

because , as Carve Nalu’s signature says … [that CERTAINLY is true of me …!!!]



well tomarrow im goin to make my first finless board and also my frist “test” board depending on how early i get up and if i have anything to do

  1. The single fin setup , in the 5’11 x 20" x 2 1/2" ‘Prawn’ fish tail board …

5 1/2" base x 7 1/2" depth x 2" rake (polycarbonate)

Goes well…hangs in in fairly hollow waves up to head high.

I put it further up in the box , as in the photo , in chest high and under surf to loosen the tail up a bit , especially backhand .

I find it lacks a bit of drive off the bottom at times , compared to when I use the two small green side runners. (But sometimes this is just that I am weighting on my back foot a bit too much , I’ve noticed .)

I also noticed the difference , using this fin in the 5’8 x 21 1/2 " “Bushfire” board . The wider tail slides a bit more in the same sort of surf . I particularly noticed it last week at city’s , when I leant back , instead of leaning forward and crouching into my bottom turn . Spun it out off the bottom , doing that . Watched Curren that night on dvd , at small j-bay [?“albatross”?] guiding Derek Hynd’s Skip Frye fish through grab-rail bottom turns AND cutbacks …“aha !”… a light came on , then …

I need to ride the "Bushfire’ [‘bushy’ , from now on] in some waist high waves this summer , and widen my stance and crouch more through turns , to notice the difference with this fin , I reckon . And maybe move the fin forward a touch in those smaller summer waves , too.

  • a thought …

It’s a legacy [?handicap?] from me riding 6’6-7’ long , thick , flat single fins for so many years , and also skating , that I stand with my feet [?too?] close together , and stand straight upright a lot of the time . I have to consciously remember to crouch , and widen my stance , when I switch to riding these little wide boards …[same with when I ride my 5’7 stubbie single fin]


Okay , for a comparison / contrast …

One of my thruster riding mates , Alec , whom I dubbed the ‘karate kid’ [albeit , a 43 yo one !] is constantly crouching …rarely stands upright at all when he surfs . He also has a much wider stance than me . Seems to help him hold his fins in the water , and keep his more rockered [than mine] boards from slowing down. [He is around my size and weight , also]

Rails on the test boards…

The rails on the ‘prawn’ and the ‘bushfire’ fishes are totally different , too, I must point out …

the "prawn’s rails are blade sharp ALL the way around the board , and fairly downrailed …

the “bushfire” rails are fairly chunky , the deck is concaved , and the hard edge in the rail only really starts 18 1/2" up from the tail , to the tail tip.

The prawn is heavier , too…it’s now over 4 years old , and is pretty waterlogged . It has had two plug repairs , a rail delam , a couple of ding repairs , and a tail reshape , since I first made it ! [it originally was a single fin , then I had plugs added for twin keels , then more later !]

… to be continued …

 cheers ,   


you do know u can just get keel fins like these and you could have saved two plugs for a repair or somthing

never mind i didn’t see that picture of all those fins

This single holds in better !! …

5 1/2" base , 8 1/2" depth , and 4" rake .

Fairly chunky [around 1/2" thick in the thickest part] . Made from 1/4" ply , glassed with , from memory , 2 layers of 6oz either side .

Felt fairly rigid through turns …no soft / ‘mushy’ feeling flex in this [like there is in some of my smaller , thinner polycarbonates. ]

Liked it ! It didn’t spin out off the bottom in the bushfire . I moved it up in the box in the prawn . I will ride this a few times , I think , especially in the bushfire to help hold that wide arsed tail , and sharp rails , into the face .

If I ever make another “stinger” board , THIS would be the fin I would try out in it first . I would make the front cutaway [in the base ] bigger too, so I could move the fin forward in the box , just to see what Bertlemann was up to …



shes a beaut i couldnt get started one my finless board well i did but it started to rain and my pearnts wont let me shape in the house or anywere but out side but i did get to make the blank and the rocker but still not yet shaped but it should b fine tomorrow after school

this is what I rode today …

… yep , the “canard quad” setup , with , this time , THICKER double foiled wod back canards .

…gotta say , it held in MUCH better ,

felt much more positive on


bottom turns

and off the top [yes , actually got a couple today were I was able to do a cutback and a reo !!]

All rights , all forehand for me today …made a NICE change , THAT’S for sure !

I like the speed of this setup …it was good to get a couple of chest-high rights with some face to play with , for a change .

Unlike the thinner , single foiled fibreglass [green swirled] ones I made , THESE ones didn’t spin out or go squirrely on me midface , or taking off sideways , so THAT was a nice feeling , having confidence that it was going to hang in there for me …

We shall see what tomorrow brings eh ?

cheers !


[it was an interesting session , really …Ant on his ‘sunova’ , and Pas on his ‘Speedneedle’-shaped twinny , and me riding a quad !]

I’m really enjoying this thread. Thanks Ben.

…you’re welcome mate .

More to come , hopefully in some more decent waves soon …




LOve this thread

Could you use some input from one of your disiples?

Superturtle Freak

" Could you use some input ? "

…yes , PLEASE !

THAT is my hope with this thread , I don’t just want to prattle on ad nauseam , I’m hoping for feedback / questions / comments / suggestions / you guys sharing what you have learnt about fin setups too …PLEASE !!

cheers !


next …

back fin 9 1/2" up

front fin 13" up

both sets of fins [cut down glasson thruster fins] 4 1/4" base x 4 - 4 1/2" depth

…to be continued…

but , goodnight for now … (I hope to go the early again tomorrow , waves and wind permitting !)



Okay , I had the above four fin setup out in clean chest , with the occassional head-high, waves…

Takeoffs , bottom turns and top turns felt positive . It hung in well through one semi decent cutback I managed.

Trimming , going across the face in a straightish line , it felt a bit ‘funny’ [scientific term] …like a pinball flipper, it felt like turbulance bouncing between the fins , if that makes sense .

Backhand …on one re-entry , I got held up in the foam and it felt a bit squirrely . [Could have been my foot placement / timing / technique at the time , though . ] I reckon that it would have been helpful to have had video of that wave , to have seen what was going on there.

Just me , probably … but it felt more positive off the bottom for me on rights [forehand] than on lefts [my backhand] .

Further testing needed …


thanks Ben!

I like hearing about your findings because as most others too i’m interesting in improving both my surfing and equipment in any ways possible.

it just seems fun to be pushing your limits.


Ps… for what its worth i’ve found myself questioning my positioning when a boards performance isn’t right. for the majority of the time i’ve found good fin setups work great no matter where you are and bad fin setups leave you blaming your self for the fins ‘issues’. ha.


better , “MUCH , much more betterer” ! … by adding one 3 1/4" base , 3 1/2" depth , 3/4 rake back fin to the mix …

surf 2 …

= more hold off the bottom backhand , more control in the lip backhand …less "squirrely / pinbally " action happening in a straight line trim = confidence !!

It seems strange [to me , anyway] …but it felt faster today with the fifth fin on ? [maybe it was just the smoother conditions today …I’m not sure .

(I’m thinking …next I might need to try it with five same sized fins , three in a line , to see what you and harry are getting so excited about , Bernie oneula !)

Surf four …

Taking the two front fins away = drive + controlled slide . Less drag on the smaller back fin [which flexes a bit , being polycarbonate ] , and there was still good bite and drive from the side fins . Best in the chest high and under range , I found out today , though.

a NICE weekend of waves …

thank you thank you !


surfed out and burnt now [not bad for winter ]

This setup today …[after snapping my mal in half at 7.05am ]

…in head high , and occassionally bigger, sets .

(This is not QUITE a true "widowmaker " setup , as I wanted to keep the fin back in the box . If the swell drops a bit tomorrow , I will move the back fin forward.)

Yes , zap, it got better , cleaner and bigger by about 10am !

Managed to get two really nice fast head high waves with a face on them …both rights , where the board FLEW off the bottom and up onto the face . Felt really nice !

The 7 1/2" x 5 1/2" back fin , combined with the two 4 1/4 x 4" cut down thruster glassons , REAAALLLY holds in WELL !!

Unfortunately I didn’t get to surf any of the many random lefts that popped up …the goofys seemed to be all over them today.

It was the most crowded that I have seen it early , and the whole time , for ages ! [some weatherman on channel 10 must have let the cat out of the bag again , last night …d’oh !!]

I hope to get on it earlier tomorrow , and move that back fin around a bit . [And get some lefts , hopefully , too !]

…to be continued…

…and , for today [I’m just waiting for it to get light at the moment , so I can hit it ]…

…yesterday’s 5 1/2" x 7 1/2" back fin [I LIKE that one !] , with the 3 1/2 x 3 5/8" fcs GS template side fins … all polycarbonate commercial fins today .

I haven’t done that for a long time ! After all the time on fibreglass fins , it will be interesting to feel the difference today …

I wish I could get my hands on your quiver of fins. It would be great to be able to switch out fins and feel the effects of each!


(hi Austin ! do you have fcs plugs mate ?? ( or a desire to lay up some fibreglass panels , perhaps ?)

Well, today’s test ride report…

It was chest high only occassionally , today.

The devil wind [northerly] was ruffling the faces slightly .

I was fortunate enough , being there early , to get three rights in a row straight away .

The first one , being the second wave in the set , was very foamy faced , and "feathering lippy’’ [?word?] .The floater felt really interesting …the big back fin held in fine , the smaller side fins [more flexy] definately felt more squirrely than the larger fibreglass ones I used yesterday.

Bottom turns still felt good. I could feel the extra rail fin biting , in co-operation with the back fin.

On one left [backhand for me] , a random head high one [?!] , the back fin held the tail in really nice on the takeoff [so that I was able to takeoff ALMOST sideways] , then …off the bottom , and I was even able to get a backhand top turn in , for a change ! [the lefts here often close out on days like today]

It pivoted really nicely off the top backhand , actually …the smaller side fins seemed to provide just enough release , to prevent it from feeling ‘tracky’ . (And the back fin definately HELD throughout the turn !)

Tomorrow , with northerlys forecast again , I will repeat the dawn patrol [To try to beat the onshore …it blew in by 8am [!] this morning …that’s more like a SUMMER weather pattern !]

I will endeavour to ride the thruster setup in the prawn tomorrow …those two checkered fabric inlay G6 template fibreglass side fins I made , and a similar sized back fin . …just so I have had at least ONE thruster configuration to use as a baseline [… as ‘Lillibel’ suggested in the original private message which got this thread happening !]

Depending on the wind [if it holds off ! ] , I may also bring down the polycarb GS ones too, for a twinzer option…we shall see what tomorrow brings , eh ?!