A surfboard fin is a hydrofoil fixed to the tail of a surfboard to provide extra stability and control. They come in a variety of types, shapes, and sizes, and have a big impact on the maneuverability, speed, and stability of a surfboard.
Keep the following in mind when choosing the ideal fin setup:
The Fin Angle
The angle of a fin impacts the board’s ability to turn sharply. The more angle there is, the more turning potential it will have. At the same time, however, you don’t want too much angle for short waves and it’s better suited for fast and long ones.
The Fin Height
The height of the fin determines the grip. Greater height provides more hold, decreasing the risk of your board sliding out from under you. Shorter fins don’t provide the same grip but allow for easier tail sliding.
The drive of the fins dictates how much power and acceleration they provide and also governs how much of that speed will remain while turning.
Generally, the greater the surface area of the base and the fins, the more drive it will generate.
What are the Best Fins?
There is no “best” fin, but there is a “best fin for you”. The answer is entirely dependent on your skill level, board type, and a number of other factors. If you’re not sure, speak with the shaper, check some brands, and use the information provided above and elsewhere on this site to understand which fin is right for you.
Some of the most popular fin brands include Feather Fins, Shapers, and FCS. These fins don’t come cheap, but there are a lot of cheaper options out there and if you do your research, you can get the perfect fin setup without blowing your budget.
Summary: Anatomy of Surf Fins
Surfboard fins were first introduced during the 1930s and they made a massive difference, revolutionizing surfboard design. Before this, it was common for the back of surfboards to slip away, triggering a wipeout as the surfer lost control.
Strangely enough, many surfers refused to adopt them, deeming them to be unsafe, but as they watched their fellow surfers gain more control over big swells and tough conditions, they gradually became commonplace.
Surf fins are massively important on modern boards and as you can see from this guide, there are lots of things to consider when choosing the perfect setup. If you’re a beginner, you don’t really need to worry about any of these and can just focus on a recommended or pre-set setup, but if you’re an experienced surfer looking for more of a custom setup, it’s something you’ll want to take into consideration.