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Fins with C.P

A Little Finformation

We caught up with Chris Preston to get his insight on fin facts. We know there can be a lot of information out there from rails, tails, concaves, volume etc…  that it can get overwhelming, but fear not sometimes its good to just to break it down in to bite sized portions to help you on your way to choosing the right fin. Chris has a little whip through the classic Pivots and Rakes to help your understanding and see what it can bring to your single fin’ing.

For all we obsess over eighths of an inch difference in our boards width, thickness, rocker and template, the actual shape of your surfboard is only part of the equation in how it feels to ride.

Your fins are a big part of the feel too and changing your fins can transform a bad board into a good one or let you dial in performance to a particular wave or feel. That’s true of all boards but especially true for single fins longboards or retro shapes and that’s where we’re going to focus for a minute.

Obviously there’s a multitude of different fins on the wall of our shop so how do you decide?

In basic terms, fins vary by height(or depth), width at the base (by the fin box), width at the tip, the flexiness of the fin and how far the tip sweeps back behind the base, it’s rake.

As a rule of thumb, the bigger and wider your fin, the more stable and faster in a straight line the board will be but the stiffer it will be to turn. The more “rake” your fin has, the more drawn out your turns will be. Flex is a little more difficult to define but broadly speaking stiffer fins give more hold in faster waves or with bigger surfers, flexy fins give a single fin more “life” because the fin stores energy as it bends during the start of a turn and releases it as it springs back to shape at the end.

When we’re talking longboards, it’s not just turning but how the fin works for noseriding that needs to be considered too. We can break longboard fins pretty easily into three categories.

Pivot Fins

The two classic pivot style fins are the massive D – fin of early 60’s longboards and the Takayama model T shape but there are a whole load of variations between those two extremes.

They all have a wide base and a wide tip, not much flex at all and very little rake. They look quite “upright” and work best on a soft railed, wide tailed log like the Saunton Foil. They’re great for noseriding, stable for trimming and cross-stepping and make your turns quite “pivoty” which fits with a more traditional style of longboarding. They like you to get your weight back over the fin and let the board rotate underneath you.

The Rake

Greenough fins

At the other end of the spectrum sits the original  Greenough 4a and a multitude of copies like the Detemple Md3.

It was conceived back in the mid sixties to improve the turning ability of the longboards of the time. It’s an amazing design and really worth having in your fin quiver. The wide base still gives plenty of stability and noseriding hold but the narrower tip dramatically loosens up a big board. The extra rake gives more projection in your turns down the line and makes it a great choice in faster waves. Finally, a healthy dose of flex gives even more drive and projection. Swapping from a pivot style fin to this in your log will really liven it up and broaden the range of wave types and sizes it will handle. It works great in smaller sizes in a 2+1 set up or for shorter single fins. I’d use one in a Quickstep or Slim Pig model.

The Classic Cat

In between those two shapes lies the “El Gato” and a few other similar shapes.

Again these work best in a Saunton Foil style board with a focus on more traditional style and are often seen in pintail noseriders. Like a pivot fin, they have a lot of area so give great hold and stability for noseriding and walking the board but they are usually a medium flex and tend to draw longer lines and give more projection in turns. Their flex and extra rake combine for this and they feel a little smoother compared to the pivoting style turn of a more upright fin.

Choosing one of these over a pivot is a lot to do with how you want your turns to feel as they both work great just in slightly different ways. There are some “cutaway” versions of this shape which aim to give noseriding hold but with a narrower base to improve turning like the “squirrel” below.

Choosing one of these over a pivot is a lot to do with how you want your turns to feel as they both work great just in slightly different ways. There are some “cutaway” versions of this shape which aim to give noseriding hold but with a narrower base to improve turning like the “squirrel” below.

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