Performance Fins Explained - Part 1

performance fins explained

What’s the BIG DEAL? Why do performance fins make such a BIG difference on your surfboard?

We get this question all the time. Here are three basic reasons why you should consider upgrading your fins from “stock plastics” to the “performance” honeycomb, fiberglass, or carbon versions:

1. Your brand new board comes with plastic fins for a reason…. New boards come with plastic fins not because they match the performance level of your new $700 surfboard, but because they are inexpensive and help keep the price of the complete board lower and within reach of more surfboard shoppers. Don’t be confused into thinking that the designer/shaper wanted you using plastic fins and that’s why they’re equipping the board with them. It’s purely a pricing constraint and they’d rather keep the option open to you to choose the right performance fins based on your size and fin preference than include them in the board and have the price be higher for everyone.

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2. Your fins are 50% of the wetted surface when you’re up and planning. When you look at the entire board and look at how “small” the fins are, it’s easy to convince yourself that it couldn’t matter that much, right? But when your board is up and planning, the fins make up 50% of the wetted surface of the surfboard/fin combo. Once you realize that, it all of a sudden seems worth considering a higher performance option.

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3. Would you ride a plastic surfboard? When you load and release your turns – hoping for more speed – a good board and fins should load up, flex and then spring you out of the turn. Plastic fins will do this to some extent for very lightweight surfers, but beyond that they tend to flex and then never flex back as fast as the fiberglass or carbon/fiberglass versions. If you spend any time in the snow, imagine riding plastic skis or a plastic snowboard and then loading up a turn, expecting to get sprung out of it. You never would, it would just keep bending. Essentially the same is happening with your plastic fins and the result is less speed generated in the turns. After spending your hard earned $$ on a high tech surfboard, are you going to equip it with plastic fins? Imagine your same surfboard made out of plastic. Would you surf that? Probably not and the fins make up just as much wetted surface as the board once you’re up and riding the wave.

•Read Part 2 – How To Choose the Right Performance Fins

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