3. Recently there seems to be more variation on the tail shape of wave boards, and in particular, we are generally seeing wider tails. Why is this?
Seb W - The boards have gone shorter over the years, and the trim overall has changed… everything has moved back: foot straps, mast-track and also fins. Because of this you position yourself further back, and you can have a wider tail without losing control.
Keith T – As boards have gotten shorter, we are moving the stance back on the boards. In order to compensate for moving back on the board we need to make wider tails to support the stance being further back. Also, with shorter boards and more efficient designs, we have been able to offer different sorts of tail designs, which offer a different feeling for all sorts of conditions.
Dany B - Boards in general have grown a lot in size. Look at wave boards from back in 1996 or earlier… they were just narrow and long… tiny! A lot of times way too tiny for the guys that were riding them, but it was “cool” to have a radical wave board! If it looks radical on the beach, imagine how it should work on the water!! Now, we have seen that if you are heavier, you need more litres to enjoy a session, which is why we are working on making bigger boards work better, and feel as if they were small under our feet. At the end of the day, we want to have fun out there, so a bit more width under your feet won’t make any harm. I normally prefer a wider tail that has narrow rails than the other way around. The wider tail makes you have more float, and the narrow rails allow the board to grip and dig in on the wave face.
Scotty M - The answer for us was onshore drive. We had a rocker which was smooth and fast but was biting a little too much into the wave, and not producing enough drive in real world conditions as a narrower pin. When the wider square was applied it provided a lot more lift and life in the onshore conditions.
Cisco G - With the newer designs (boards & sails) we have been able to make the wider outlines go around the corners as good, if not better, than previous narrower ones – basically expanding the range of each size. The new line of Quads and Thrusters work as good on the high end, as they do on the lower end. The biggest change is that now you see people owning one board where in the past they had to have two options close together; this is also a big improvement.
Werner G - The tail finishes off the chosen outline of the board. I do not think the tail look alone is responsible for the board performance. Certain outlines have to end in a wider tail than others. I do not see wider tails in general. You have to look at the measurement one foot off the tail, not only the very last bit of the board. The gunny look is gone; all the tails are more rounded off these days to make use of the rail line all the way to the end of the board. There are just specialist light wind shapes out there that demand a wider tail. The tail sizes on good side shore boards have not changed that much. For these kinds of conditions a wide tail just does not work.
Ola H - “Tail power” really has to be judged as width together with rocker, rails and strap placement. Tail width by itself is not so important, but the shape of the outline and how it tapers towards the tail is important since it radically affects how the boards positions itself on the rail in a turn. If you by wider tails mean the Frugal, it actually has a narrow tail if you measure it by where your foot is. OFO becomes large but that just indicates that this is not a very relevant measurement. The reason for the tail shape, which is basically just a shortened squared off tail, is to allow quicker rail to rail and less drag in tight carves.
4. Fin configuration – where are we up to? Please briefly describe in your opinion the strengths and weaknesses of each: single, twin, tri, quad.
Seb W -
Single Fin: early planing, control, speed.
Twin: a bit out of fashion by now, but good for nice drawn lines and control… planing is still reasonable, but less tuning options than Tri for example.
Tri: a classic fin set up – the thruster, very well known and most popular in surfing, offers a wide range of use and wide range of tuning options… from single fin to 3 similar size fins – you can combine all worlds with this fin setup.
Quad – A lot of grip, can be sailed closest to the wave, deep short turns, the most radical setup as you can use the smallest fins
Keith T - Single fin is the basic go to board for quick planing and easy upwind by pushing on the fin and it generates your lift and speed.
Twins tend to be more forward driving bottom turn with a quick snappy off the top and a pretty slidey feel with a wave rocker. Twins in general like a clean wave face. On the faster rockered boards, twins are amazingly fast with a nice drivey turn, as long as you have sufficient sized fins.
Quads are a good all around. They have a pretty drivey forward turn but then a quicker spontaneous snappy off the top. They tend to handle the chop a bit better than the twin.
Thrusters, to me, feel the most neutral of all the multi fin boards. You can drive forward, you can back foot turn, and in general your speed through all the turns is less spontaneous and more fluid. You can come out of a turn with the same speed you went in with.
Dany B - In my opinion, the single fin is the master of all fin set ups, which is reason why we in Starboard still deliver the “Kode” with the option to sail it as a single fin… it just works! Single fins have straight-line speed, turning ability, grip and drive. But, it is true that it misses some “Special” qualities that other setups do offer.
Look at the twin fins. They are also fast, have almost the same amount of drive, but allow you to stay closer to the face of the wave in a bottom turn. Short turns are way more effortless, and you have a pretty good sliding release that you won’t have with a single fin.
The quad is the drive monster! As they have four fins, there is a bit more drag under your board in a straight line, but that is then compensated for once on the wave. They turn with a lot of speed and give you so much drive that you can destroy the lip of a solid wave with no worries to slide off… they hack into the face of the wave. They do not allow you to change your mind so easily once you initiated your bottom turn, but in down the line conditions a quad is hard to beat. Projection in aerials is amazing!
The thruster is a bit of a mix of all three setups. It has a good amount of drive, it slides, has good turnability , a good projection for airs, but is not completely what I am personally looking for. I have tried a lot of thrusters in the past 2 years, but I never found the one that could beat the twin fin board in side onshore conditions or the quad in more side or side off conditions. Some days the thruster was better, but then other days it was losing qualities. It is also a bit slower in straight line and for jumping not my favourite yet. We will see if we find “the one”, but until then I stick to what I know works best!
Scotty M - As mentioned before, no one has been reinventing the wheel over the last decade or two. There has been concept re-appreciation, and when work is done on these they evolve. In terms of multi fin; whether it be quad, tri or twin, there are horses for courses. It’s about trying to find a configuration that is best in doing everything, which is why you have to test in a wide variety of locations and conditions.
There was a rider we could see in Tasmania that was getting stuck in his top turns during the big cross off day, and when it was mentioned, he replied “I know, I only brought my onshore boards thinking it was going to be onshore conditions.”
For Starboard I know this wouldn’t be an issue, as a board has to work in all conditions, cross onshore to cross-off, before it would become a valid candidate.
Single: Good for blasting backfoot freeride sensation.
Twin: Good for high speed blasting control, front foot rail drive with easy release of the tail into rotational manoeuvres.
Thruster: Give a little more single fin feel with pivot off of the central fin whilst spreading the drive load over the tail. More difficult to get the set up right.
Quad: Smooth drive with power and is forgiving.
Cisco G - The surfing culture have finally started to understand that there is more than one way to ride a wave, and that is very personal to each individual and conditions. Just like people have favourite colours today, you will see the best in the world using all styles of multi fins and in different ways, same from spot to spot around the world. One thing for sure, I see less single fins.
Werner G – Single fin boards have lots of drive and lift with directional stability.
Twins are very loose and have a skatey feel.
Quads loosen up the tail and make the boards very turny with lots of control from the side fins. This setup gets closest to surfboard feeling.
Thruster boards have a big range of use, can be used with a single fin setup and change their characteristics totally once equipped with side fins. With three fins the boards have lots of drive combined with good control from the side fins. Once you go to a rather small centre-fin, and slightly bigger side fins, the tail loosens up and the boards feel different and turny. The tri fin setup combines drive with control.
Ola H – Single: simple to use, low drag, stable and predictable. But the response time in turns is higher and to turn tight or powerful you need very good technique and power. Also, to even get near multi fin turning performance you will need a pretty small singe fin, and then planing and upwind performance might be hurt.
Twin: Also simple and predictable, particularly in boards with faster tails. Really easy to tune too. Normally lower drag and hence a faster feel than tris and quads. For better and for worse they can be slashy in the top turns. Super quick bottom turn initiation but can be sketchier at speed.
With tri fins and quads I differ between front fin biased and rear fin biases setups. In the rear fin biased case, tri fins are back foot dependable and stable. They are still looser than a single, but require more power and technique to turn super quick and they may require a more radical hull shape for the package as a whole to be radical. In general tri fins are the rather sensitive to tuning and can feel sluggish if you get it wrong.
Rear fin biased quads (the standard setup, with around 10cm front fins) are almost as loose as twins are but adds more grip, both due to the extra fin and due to that the rail is pushed deeper in the water. They tend to ride a bit more stable than a twin, so contrary to the approach of many others, I have preferred to keep my quad hull shapes towards the lively side.
Front fin biased quads (like 13cm front fins and 11 cm rear fins) or tris (like all fins 13cm) are very similar in feel and differ mostly by the tri being a bit more pivoty in particularly the bottom turn while the quad is a bit more towards the rail carving style. These setups are not very common and require the right fins and toe in to work, but particularly in a bit slower waves, I reckon they rule because they can be super, super quick in the turns but still really grippy and drivey and simply much more responsive to rider input.