Surfboard Fin Fun: History

I wanted to devote a few posts this April to surfboard fins. Sometimes fins may be called skegs, but it is an older term, usually reserved for longboards.

It took me several years of surfing to truly appreciate the difference in fin types. I’m forever learning, of course, but I’d like to share some things I’ve discovered along the way. I also really need to thank Core Surf Shop– they always put up with my endless questions about surfing and fins.

A little surfboard fin history…

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Tom Blake is DA MAN

Fins for surfboards were first added by one of the most brilliant surfing pioneers EVER, Tom Blake. The fin as we know it today was updated by Bob Simmons in the 1940’s. Simmons studied naval architecture to incorporate the fin into his surfboard designs, making the surfboard MUCH faster than its’ predecessors- even frightening some of the first surfers who tried them! The Surfing Handbook has a great rundown about the history of the fin.

Essentially, having a fin on a surfboard created a “rudder” on which the craft could pivot and turn. This allowed riders new freedoms in the emerging sport of surfing. As boards became smaller and lighter, board designers were creative with fins, essentially splitting the original single fin into two (keel fins), three (thruster), or four (quad).

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Single Fins are most popular on longboards

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Twin Fins can sometimes be called Keels, depending on the placement and shape

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VERY popular in the 1980’s with the shortboard craze

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This setup has become very popular trend

Central Florida’s sandy beach breaks and small waves year round (barring Hurricane season) are ideal for longboarding. Therefore, most of my personal collection of surfboard fins are mainly longboard fins, usually around 7″ or bigger.

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Part of my longboard fin collection

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One of my fins- this one measures 7.5 inches. Don’t include the part that rests inside the board when measuring a fin’s height

Next time, I’ll post about basic fin structure- it took me a LOT of time to figure out what the hell other surfers meant by all those crazy terms to describe a fin’s shape. It’s a science onto itself, and there’s some amateur surfers out there who focus SOLELY on fins like it’s their freakin’ job. Intense, brah.

I’m more like the naïve Little Mermaid of surfboard fins….but there’s worse things I could collect.

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Even mermaids are materialistic, sheesh

2 thoughts on “Surfboard Fin Fun: History

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