The very first surfboards were completely fin-less.
When fins were eventually added, they made a huge difference, although it took a few years for them to really take off.
Since those early days, multiple fin configurations have been created, including the thruster and quad fin setup, but for many, single fins are still the best.
If you’re a first-timer riding a longboard, a single fin might be the best option for you, as well.
But how can you ride a single fin, what does it feel like, and is it harder than a twin fin, thruster, or quad?
How to Ride Single Fins
Fewer fins mean less drag, so single fins produce a lot of speed when compared to multi-fin setups.
The turning is not as sharp or responsive, but the speed and drive deliver a smooth and fast ride that is perfectly suited to beginner surfers.
Single fins are best for small to medium waves.
They are the fins you opt for when you want straight-line speed and don’t have the surf on your side.
That’s why you will often see them attached to longboards, which serve much the same purpose and provide a lot of stability and drive.
To ride a single fin surfboard, just follow these simple steps.
- Delay the Bottom Turn: Your bottom turn should be delayed slightly when compared to riding a twin fin or other multi-fin setup. Take it easy, don’t rush it, and you’ll maintain the speed you need to make surfing a single fin work.
- Play for Straight-Line Speed: You can’t move as easily on a single fin as you can on a thruster or quad. To prepare for this, you should plan your approach carefully and make sure you can surf in the right place while targeting the whole wave and utilizing its energy.
- Practice: As with anything else, riding single fin surfboards is all about practice. Keep the above tips in mind, get out there, and enjoy yourself. Don’t treat it like a multi-fin board, remember that your approach needs to differ slightly, and let the board guide you. It may also help you to watch other single fin surfers. There are plenty of YouTube videos out there that will show you how the pros do it.
Is it Harder to Surf a Single Fin?
It depends on what you want to achieve.
If you’re trying to handle your single fin like a quad fin, it will definitely be harder to surf.
If you’re happy to stick with the basics and have a longboard suited for small surf, it should deliver a smooth and easy ride.
Can I Learn to Surf a Single Fin?
Of course! In fact, starting with a longboard and a single fin is often one of the best ways to learn.
It can deliver a smooth and enjoyable ride, with less drag, lots of straight-line speed, high stability, and plenty of sweeping turns.
Single fins are very different from multi-fins, but that’s half the fun!
Can You Surf with a Missing Fin?
Remember, many early surfboards didn’t have fins.
In fact, Hawaiians were surfing on fin-less wooden boards long before the sport spread to the shores of California.
These boards were heavy, cumbersome, and a world apart from their modern counterparts.
Of course, they were highly skilled surfers and they knew how to handle a fin-less board.
The same can’t be said for many modern surfers.
But as long as you have some experience and can adapt as you ride, it’s possible to surf without a fin.
Just remember, the fin is there for a reason and without it, the board will be less stable and will slide out more often.