Surfboard fins are a crucial part of your surfboard setup. Choosing fins that will work best for you and your board depends on a few simple factors; the fin box on your board, your weight and the type of waves you will be surfing.
1. What type of fin box does your surfboard have?
This may seem like a pretty obvious question but it will easily eliminate half of what is on offer. Essentially there are 2 different fin boxes that are currently being manufactured on all new surfboards, these are Futures and FCS.
Futures Fins connect to your surfboard using a long base along the entire length of the fin box (unlike plugs) for a strong, lightweight connection. They feature quick and easy set screws which hold the fins in place.
FCS stands for Fin Control System. Originally designed in the early 1990s, FCS is the most successful, widely used surfboard fin system in the world. The fins have two tabs or 'plugs' that are pre-drilled and secured to the board using set screws. FCS recently launched the FCS II keyless system, meaning fins can be installed or removed without a key or grub screws. FCS II is also backwards compatible, meaning you can use your old dual tab FCS fins with the new FCS II system. So if you have a set of precious Kelly Slater FCS fins you just don't want to get rid of you can still ride these with the new system. It is worth noting that you will need a compatibility kit for this to work though....these will be coming here soon!
2. What size fins do I need?
Once you have established the fin box on your surfboard the next step is to figure out what size fins you will need. This is very simple to figure out as it comes down to your weight. If you are in between sizes, consider the type of board or type of waves you will be surfing. For example, if you are in between size Medium and Large, you might want to go for Medium size fins for your small wave board, but Large fins for your big wave board.
34kg - 52kg
47kg - 70kg
55kg - 70kg
65kg - 88kg
|M||65kg - 80kg|
75kg - 90kg
3. What types of waves will you be surfing?
The next question to ask yourself is what type of waves will you be surfing. Just like different board designs for different wave types, there are different fin designs for different wave types. Generally speaking, fins with a more vertical leading edge turn in a tighter arc and are better for fitting more turns into a tighter space. For these fins, think your local beach breaks where waves tend to be pretty short before crashing onto the shore. These fins can also be helpful in racey, fast-breaking waves where it’s important to get on the rail fast to generate the speed needed to make the sections.
A fin with more rake in the tip (pointier end) makes it better for drawn-out turns and is best suited in point breaks (not the film!). This type of fin will feel solid and confident drawing out a high-speed, long-radius turn, where the more vertical fin will feel nervous and skittish, like it wants to initiate the turn sooner.
4. What does Futures ride numbers mean?
Futures recently put together a ride number system to make your fin selection even easier to figure out. The larger the number, the more speed the fin generates. Ride numbers 7-10 are good for when the surf is soft, gutless, and has no real power. The smaller the ride number, the better the fin is for control and confidence in fast-breaking waves. When it’s pumping, heavy, and fast, ride numbers 1-4 offer the most control and confidence. The mid-range numbers 4-7 are great as an all-around fin as they work in most conditions.
Although we know that some people often pick fins on the way they look or whether their favourite surfer has a signature model, which is fair enough of course...we do, it's well worth remembering the importance of ordering the correct size for your weight and the correct shape for the waves you will more than likely be surfing. This way you maximise performance and hopefully your wave count! This guide is as simple as we could make it to ensure you pick the right fins for your surfboard. There are other factors we haven't mentioned such as the foils, flex, depth, base length and sweep of the fins which are equally as important but we will address this is in another article.
If you have any questions or queries regarding fins for your surfboards please do not hesitate to get in contact, 01803 659770, and one of our dynamic team will happily help.....that's if they aren't out surfing of course!