A Guide To Building A Cheap "Quiver"
Changing out your fins is a parsimonious way to liven your surfing.
Some of us are fortunate enough to have the fiscal liberty to buy new surfboards as we please (or are good enough to have them given to us for free). Most of us, however, are confined to one board a year, or even less, especially in times of hardship like the world is facing now.
While the title of this post might be misleading—as this guide to "quiver-building" only involves one board—it is a way to breathe some much-needed energy into your daily craft and a significantly cheaper option than buying a new one.
Put simply, what I'm suggesting is a fresh set of fins. Not necessarily the newest most fandangle thrusters on the market, but something different to your usual set-up. Of course, it isn't quite the same as actually riding a new board, but you'd be surprised by the difference it makes. Not just the obvious changes between a thruster or quad, but even seemingly small factors like rake, flex, and fin size make eons of difference—just ask board nerd Michael Ciaramella.
Now, I'm nowhere near as good a surfer as Stab's bearded dwarf, but this year (when I've been able to surf) I've taken solace in changing out my fins.
So, here are four sets of fins I would recommend if you're looking to liven up your surfing, or just bring something new to the table, without spending 700 clams.
For my go-to shortboard—a 5'9" JS monsta-box II I 'borrowed' from the Stab office—I nearly always use the Filipe fins because I know they won't do anything too funky. Especially if the surf is actually good for once.
In a large, you won't find yourself skidding out, flailing in the bowl, or withholding on your cutbacks. I'm obviously no expert on fin construction, but with a relatively standard shape and stiff-ish flex pattern (which Toledo obviously approves of), they're a good baseline fin for when you're feeling a tad conservative in your surfing. Well, conservative in the sense that you want three-fins that aren't going to do anything suss.
Mick likes 'em, and so do I!
Sometime last year, when FCS first dropped the new Fanning 'neo-carbon' thrusters, we were lucky enough to receive a set to the office. They're the same outline as Mick's regular FCS fins, but these ones are half carbon. Essentially they're built for smaller waves, keeping agility and speed in mind, and that's what they tend to do. Or at least that's what they feel like they're doing when I ride them.
Having large, stiff fins in small surf can make riding a shortboard a slog, but with a bitted of added spring under your back foot you might just find a 'funboard' isn't required after all.
Oh, and despite having a snazzy name—neo-carbon—they come in at $120 AUD. Significantly cheaper than most HP thruster setups on the market.
Ahh so its hold you want?
There's no question: most high-performance surfing is done on thrusters. It doesn't have to be this way though.
Kelly went through his quad phase (which was recently revived) and did some of the best surfing of his life on them. Furthermore, most of us aren't actually doing high-performance surfing. And since we're on the topic of trying to spice up your surfing on the cheap, there's no quicker way to making a board feel new than sticking some quads in it.
Last year I popped my quads out of my 5'6", real fuckin'-wide Chilli and put them into the aforementioned JS. It was the first time I'd ridden a normal shortboard with four-fins and it took me a while to return to three. It's easier to gain speed, I didn't have to flail pump so much, and surfing felt more like gliding. I can't say whether my surfing objectively improved, but I enjoyed the new world of four fin-surfing for those few months and have recommended that any surfing friend to give it a go since.
Also, added bonus: most four fins come in a tri-quad set-up. It'll cost a tad more, but if you end up heeding my advice and completely disagree with me after trying, then you can just return to your beloved thruster with a few taps on the car boot (I have soft hands/am a sook, so have to hit my fins to get them out).
I would like to recommend a twin set-up, but unless your daily board is a fattish fish, putting a pair of keels in there probably won't end up too well.
This FCS Rob Machado twin combo with an oversized trailer lands somewhere in between. You probably won't want to ride these with your 6'0" thruster, but if you have a funboard or something not seen on the CT you'll have some fun.
One of the best aspects of a twin is the ease of pivoting a turn off one of your fins and the ability to generate down-the-line speed. For a tr-fin fanatic, however, this transition isn't always easy, so by whacking an oversized trailer in the centre, you can smooth your transition from gym-junkie thruster guy to a vegan, doobie-smoking long-haired yahoo in no time.
Anyway, these fins are good for when you haven't done a good turn in a while and realise you'll have much more fun flowing down the line and drawing out some long cutbacks.