When to upgrade your surfboard fins
Firstly, this isn’t a blatant or brazen attempt to wrestle your hard earned cash out of your paws. Think of it as more a of a public service announcement. A few things need to be said.
There is often a time in a surfers' life when things don't seem to be going right, and where progress seems to have come to a grinding halt. Sometimes it's your level of fitness, and at other times it could be as a result of a board that is no longer going well and suited to your surfing style and approach. At other times it could just be because the waves are terrible and weak, or you might just be having a bad day, you rolled out of bed and tripped over the cat. It happens, often enough.
It might be something way more straightforward, a quick change of fins could quickly fix it.
Plastic surfboard fins – the free ones that you usually get with your brand new board – are awesome. Your board will function with these. Will they help eek every last bit of performance out of your new stick? – that’s a hard no.
We are also not advocating the use of high performance fins for a beginner. In a golf analogy, since we can’t think of a better one right now – is this. You’ve never played golf before. Don’t get wrapped up into deciding on which ball is going to be the best for you. You just need to grab a club – and start hitting the damn ball.
So moving on. Intermediate surfers, you are finally holding a decent board under your arms. Now this is exactly the right time to splash out on a good set of fins. If they aren’t free with your board, financially, a set of plastic fins will sting you about $65 bucks. A set of FCSII Performers is about $100, and pretty much the same for a set of Alpha carbon Futures. Spend the extra $35, it’s really only a bit more than an extra $10 each fin if you think of it like that.
This quick blog isn’t a post mortem on fins and all the technical details – we already have a guide for that, we’ll post the link at the bottom
So why not the cheap plastic fins? A basic way we can describe it. One of the essential elements is that of flex. Too much flex is not conducive to high-performance surfing, and those cheap plastic fins are some of the worst. These fins have very little projection out of turns, and surfers on these fins tend to have short jerky turns. A quick swap-out for superior fins could be the most significant upgrade of your surfing and your related performance levels. It is not just flex though, that makes up your surfboard performance levels directed from your fins. Your fin size is also of great importance, with bigger fins allowing for more projection and drive, and smaller fins being for forgiving but with way less drive.
There are many types of good quality fins available in the market and online, the market leaders without a shadow of doubt are FCSII and Futures Fins. What about the cheap eBay fins, they look good? not so fast.
The main reason to go with the main players is research, development, and the amount they reinvest into grass roots surfing (and of course the elite surfers like Mick Fanning, Filipe Toledo etc.). As you become more interested in your fins, you’ll be able to fine tune your equipment and experiment with more confidence and even nerd out on the numbers if that’s where it takes you.
The great thing with investing in fins is they get to stay with you long after you’ve sold your old board. Like moving out of your old house - but taking the comfy couch with you.