The Basics of Wakesurf Fins
The fin(s) on your wakesurf board are often overlooked but play a huge factor in how your board rides through the water. Many people will spend nearly all their time focusing on the board shape and core construction but fail to pay attention to the fin setup. Having the correct fin setup for you can drastically change the feel and overall ride of the board. This can be the difference maker in you loving or hating the board. This guide is designed to explain the basics of wakesurf fins to help you find a fin setup that will help you have more fun while out on the water.
There are several measurements that will help determine how a fin will perform in the water: base, rake, and height.
Base: This is a measurement of the base length - the widest outline of the fin. The length of the base will influence the way your board will drive and turn through the water. A longer base will help to increase drive and make more powerful turns. A fin with a shorter base length will have a smaller turn radius and will be more maneuverable through the water.
Rake: The rake measures the angle of the fin's curve in relation to its base. A smaller rake will help the fin to create more forward push and speed but will feature less maneuverability. A larger rake on the fin will give the board a tighter turning radius for snapping quick turns and slashes off the top of the wake. If you are looking for a more stable ride through the water, consider looking for fins with a smaller rake.
Height: The height is measured by how deep the fin sticks into the water. The height helps determine the the stability and maneuverability of the board while riding. A taller fin will provide more control for the rider and a stable feel. Shorter fins don't provide the same amount of control and will allow the rider to release the fins during turns and slashes. Many skim style riders prefer fins that they are able to release with ease.
Single: a loose feel for spins and aerial maneuvers
The single fin setup is the standard for most skim style boards. The smaller, single fin will provide drive forward on the wake while easily breaking free to perform skim tricks such as surface spins, shuvits, and 180’s.
Twin: a loose surf feel
Using two outside fins will help generate speed and make the board fast down the line. The twin fin setup will provide the grip and control to stay in the sweet spot of the wake while still allowing the rider to break the fins free with ease.
Thruster: speed and control
The three fin setup known as the thruster is the most common configuration seen on surf style wakesurf boards. The thruster setup will give your board the drive to push forward on the wake and grip to make big bottom turns.
Quad: fast and loose
A quad fin setup give your board acceleration and speed. You will notice your board can shoot down the line of the wake much quicker than other fin configurations. This will be a slightly looser feel than the thruster setup. The quad is a great choice if you want a fast, playful feel for those huge slashes and airs off the lip of the wake.
Note: We recommend you try several different fin setups on your board. The best way to find out which one you enjoy the most is by spending time riding each different configuration.
Nose fins are commonly found on skim style wakesurf boards. The fins are designed to help give the rider control while riding switch after performing a skim trick such as a pop shuvit or 180. Nose fins typically look more similar to a wakeboard fin than a wakesurf fin. They are usually much smaller in height and have a shorter base. The nose fin is designed to not touch the water except for when riding switch. This helps to ensure the nose fin doesn't interfere with the normal riding of your board.
It is popular for wakesurf boards to now feature four or five fin box systems. This gives the rider the versatility to set up their board based on the rider's style, wave size, and other conditions. A board with four or five fin boxes can be rode as a single fin, twin, thruster, or quad fin. To make it even more complicated, when the board is configured as a twin or thruster the rider must choose between placing the outside fins further back towards the tail or more forward towards the center of the board.
Further forward on the board:Tighter, sharp turns. A more playful feel and the ability to release the fins.
Further back on the board: More drive and balanced turns. An overall more stable ride.
An emerging trend this year is boards now featuring high-end fin box systems from the surf industry. In the past board manufacturers have built their own fin box systems that were implemented into their wakesurf lineup. Seeking better peformance from their boards, these brands are now turning to the years of knowledge and shaping experience from the surfing industry to help create a better experience from riders.
We expect that in the next several years all wakesurf boards from top manufacturers will feature higher-end surf fin systems. If you are looking for the best in performance, consider buying a board that features Futures or FCS fin systems.
New for 2016, Hyperlite and Byerly have featured Futures Fin Systems on their higher-end wakesurf boards. This gives the rider improved performance from their board as well as interchangeability with any of the hundreds of Futures Fins to give the rider a truly customized ride. Countless pro surfers such as John John Florence, Alana Blanchard, Jordy Smith, and Jack Freestone all ride Futures Fins.
New for 2016, the Slingshot Gnarwhal and Cobra Cat now feature the FCS II fin system. The FCS II fin boxes allow for quick, easy, and toolless fin customization. This makes it easier than ever before to change fins while out on the water or remove them while storing the board. All FCS fins are compatible with the FCS II fin system, giving riders hundreds of fin options to fully customize the feel of their board. Professional surfers such as Mick Fanning, Filipe Toledo, Gabriel Medina, and more all ride FCS fins.
Rule #1: ALWAYS CARRY A SPARE SET OF FINS!!! $%&@ HAPPENS
Fins break or get misplaced easily. Someone steps on the board while on the swim deck and the fin breaks. A fin can break while your board is stowed away and the boat is in motion. You are swapping out the fins on your board and one falls over the side of the boat. Nothing ruins a day on the lake quicker than breaking or misplacing your fins. Your wakesurf board becomes nearly impossible to ride without fins.
Be prepared and always carry an extra set of wakesurf fins in your boat. Trust us on this one.