Surfboard Fin Fun: DIY Roundup

I’ve done several DIY’s and crafts related to img_0857fins, so I wanted to round up a few fun posts to share during this April’s fin madness here at Crafty Surf. I just can’t handle the craziness.

Cheap DIY Fin Covers

I still use these craft foam covers- they’re better than the plain black ones they usually come with, and labeling them yourself just keeps things organized. For the surfer with a hint o’ engineer quirkiness.

Surfboard Contact Info

This is a handy hack using the single fin box to put some stealthy contact info if your board is ever stolen. Happens often around here, unfortunately.

Single Fin Thumbscrew

Great item to have if you’d like to get rid of a screwdriver in your surf gear. Check out the link to see the specs on what you’ll need.

Recycled Neoprene Surf Fin Sock

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In this project, I needed to make a soft cover for the glassed in fin on my wall hanger surfboard. An old wetsuit was perfect. After a good washing, of course.

Lovin’ The Nubbin

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I had a good time with this project. I took a plastic fin and mowed it down with the scroll saw. Then I attempted to sand some semblance of a foil into it. Silly and crazy, and mega fun to surf with. Fools have the most fun, right?

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It’s been mucho fun learning about fins, and since new fins and fads keep popping up all the time, I know there’s more to see and learn.

I’m still upset at myself for letting my holy grail fin get away. I wanted this one for the uplifting art alone, since it speaks to my soul on so many levels….

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The Shaka and Beer. Like the Old Man and The Sea, they are forever entwined 

 

Surfboard Fin Fun: Very Interesting….

This month, I’ve been doing the whole surfboard fin thing, and it’s been really fun and interesting. I just surf for kicks, but it’s crazy what I have collected over time for being a not-even-close-to-Pro surfer. Yep, if you tell me I’ll surf better with it, I’ll probably give it a go. Hey- so would you, brah.

Here’s some other fins I have (and no longer have) in my collection….

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Proteck Fins

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I think this fin might be ready to donate

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These have saved me on more than a few closeouts 

Yeah, I’ve heard a lot of crap about these plastic fantastic fins, but they have been great for my safety. The one shown first is my well-used 7″ which no longer has the supple rubber edge on it. That’s the downside with these- DON’T keep them out in the sun, because the rubber edge will go brittle over time.

I use a 9″ one in my 9’2″ Stand-Up Paddleboard, and I have a small thruster set I used in my first surfboard (second pic). Great investment while learning, or for anytime. Prevented a lot of potentially BAD fin cuts at the beginning, leaving only bruising. Highly recommended- others in the lineup might thank you too.

 

Turbo Tunnel

Tease me all you want, but yes, I actually bought into this fad.

These fins will put a severe drag on your tail. The whole idea is that you can use this to your advantage when noseriding, but honestly, it just makes it super difficult to paddle into a wave quickly. Horrific for surfing in my opinion, but great for paddle practice if you’re building those killer guns. Gnarlicious.

Sold mine years ago. Bye Felicia.

 

RFC Wingnut Longrake 9.0″

Although this is a beautiful fin, it really seems better suited to glassier, better sized waves (and better surfers) with its’ extra long rake. If it gets like that– which is pretty rare in Florida-I’m on my funshape. So, this fin doesn’t see a lot of use from me, personally.

I wonder if, as an experiment, I should send this fin this out to my fellow members in the Big Stick Association in Santa Cruz for them to try in their waves. Like that Singlefin: Yellow movie that sent that surfboard all over the world. Except we’d be a lot less emo and weird about it.

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I’m still learning about surfing all the time, and I know I’ll still go for whatever the fads are, and fail and try again, I’m sure.

Ok, so I’ll never learn.

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Can’t I do both???

Surfboard Fin Fun: Hack Attack

Here’s a little hack attack to save some cash on what I consider to be a VERY handy item for single fins and longboards.

A typical single fin screw requires a flathead screwdriver or Phillips head to get out. What a pain in the ass.

Some time ago, a fin company carried a special “longboard fin screw” that was a thumbscrew, so you didn’t need the screwdriver. Also, you could move the fin in the box on the fly. Nice.

Problem was, they wanted $12 PER SCREW and NUT set. REALLY???? Screw you.

I’ve got a simple cure for that- buy it directly from a hardware store. I order what’s called a 316 Stainless Steel Thumbscrew. Stainless Steel is important for it to hold up in saltwater, yo:

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Get the good stuff for saltwater

Here is a new one in 316 Stainless, next to another one that’s been surfed for about 8 months on the regular:

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Not significant amount of rusting for so much use

I’ve found that the 8/32 thread size fits most single fin box  nuts that usually come with the fin, or also the surfboard itself. I only get the 3/4″ length to fit the depth of most single fin boxes.

 

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Shareable Size

Here’s a link to the place where I got mine:

McMaster-Carr (I don’t get anything for this, it’s just a link to the page)

Remember how I said I wanted to move my fin to the back of the fin box? I used the nut I already had that was in the box, but I can just switch to this type of screw:

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Moving the fin to the back of the box

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No screwdrivers!

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Ready to go and secure

That’s it, Bro-licious. And they’re FIVE screws (no nuts included) for $6.50, plus shipping. Mark ’em up and sell them to your friends, or give them away and score some surf cred. They’re super mega handy, believe me.

And if you’re going to bitch about the thumbscrew affecting the flow of water over the foil of the fin, thus creating vortices of instability, well, “bless your heart.”

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All. Da. Time.

Surfboard Fin Fun: Longboard Picks

I wanted to share some of my favorite fins that I use on my frequently surfed longboards: my 9′ Starr Longboard, and my 9′ Dewey Weber Performer.

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Love these longboards!

By the way, these are boards and fins in my own personal collection, I don’t rep for these companies. I pay through da nose like everyone else. Yeah, yeah…they tell me it’s “ART” though. Whateves. Just help me surf a little less badly, ok?

Da Fins:

RFC Garrett Spencer Model 10.25″ Pivot Fin

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I have it in the middle of the fin box now, may move it to the back for more stability 

I was given this fin as a gift from my friends this past Christmas, and it’s sure been schweet. In combination with the style of my Starr longboard, this will let me turn easily from just about anywhere on the board, which can be good and bad. It’s great when I need to prevent a near-wipeout. However, if I get used cheating too much, well…my terrible surf style can’t afford another hit.

The benefit of this type of fin is that it has some surface area to hold you up if you try to cross step or nose ride. I’ve personally found it very forgiving and good for that.

 

RFC Core Surf 7.5″

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Very versatile fin, I even use it in my funshape

This will probably be my longboard fin this summer. The waves get so tiny here (but fun) that it’s very easy to run aground whilst surfing. Having a couple of extra inches of draft isn’t bad. Bonus that this fin is shaped much like a classic longboard fin, only mini-sized…for our miniature summer waves.

 

RFC Justin Quintal Straight Back 10.25″

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Soooo freakin’ nice

Yes, I loved this for the template, but, I just had to have it in PURTY yellow to coordinate with my Dewey Weber Performer. Totally kooky and spendy, but I’m McLovin’ It anyway.

It’s a LOT of fin for me, but the classic, “old school” template truly forces me to use longboard techniques, such as turning from the tail of the board, walking to the nose, and correct positioning on the nose (still working on that). This fin reminds me that I always need to be aware of longboarding style, not just riding a wave.

 

Captain Fin Co. Mitch Abshere 10″

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Each side of the fin has a different graphic. Trippy, brah

With the wide base and slight rake, this was the fin I used in my Starr board for the majority of the time. It’s been an all around great fin, very durable and stable. I’ve been able to become more comfortable practicing cross stepping on my Starr board with this fin’s hold in most types of Florida waves. I consider this kind of a good all-around fin.

 

Island Fin Design Hawaii 7.0″

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Well loved fin

I’ve had this fin forever, hence the rust around the pin- yikes. It has been another great fin that I first used in an 8’6″ “Big Hipped Mama” Natural Art longboard, in a 9′ SUP, then again in 2 more longboards. It’s not too big and doesn’t have a crazy template, so it goes with everything for a majority of our small, beach break waves. One of my first fin purchases- other than the ones always that came with the surfboard.

 

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I’ve got a little hack for you next time that might save you some cash on a handy thing to have for your longboard’s single fins.

I mean, this hobby can get pricey if you let it, obviously. The fins alone can typically run from $50-$150 each. Sometimes, surfing tools and accessories can get their prices marked up more than wedding dresses and funeral caskets.

But I say…Splurge now, Save later.

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Everyone loves confetti 

Surfboard Fin Fun: Height, Base, and Rake

So, as an average surfer who wants to maximize my fun, I wanted to share what I’ve learned over the years about what to look for in a fin. I don’t want to get knee deep into what some big time Pro who surfs perfect point breaks says. I’ve seen those mucky details debated out on lots of forums, and really, I’ve found there are really only a few things for the recreational surfer to consider when looking for a fun surfboard fin, at least from my non-Pro surfer viewpoint.

  • Height (sometimes called Depth)
  • Base
  • Rake
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Choosing a fin shouldn’t be rocket science

Anything past that and the changes will probably not be readily noticeable to an average surfer like me. Sure, Mr. Kelly Slater will be able to tell you how a different cant on his two outer thrusters changed his aerial game at the Huntington Pro long ago. Goody for him, but I’ll never be Kelly. Da truth hurts. Here’s a good link to more in-depth info. Knock yourself out.

Festivus for the rest of us, then….

Height (Depth)

This is essentially how tall the fin is, measured from the bottom of the fin exposed when your fin is in your surfboard (flush) to the point that will be furthest into the water. Do not include the section of fin that goes into the fin box in your measurement.

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7” fin (left) and 9.5” fin (right)

Most longboard fins run from 7″ to 10″ in general. Often, more fin height is recommended as your board size increases, but more height can also create more drag when paddling into waves, especially the weak mushy variety we have here in Florida. In addition, your weight also becomes a consideration- the less you weigh, the less fin you may wish to have in the water. Conversely, if you are large and in charge, you may desire a bigger fin to make effective turns.

I’m a small person (under 5’5″), so I usually ride 7″-9″ single fins on my 9″+ surfboards and SUPs these days. I don’t surf waves over 3′-4′ on my longboards, so these are sufficient.

Base

This is the span of the fin measured across the bottom just above the surface of the surfboard when the fin is mounted in the board.

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Narrower base (left) and wider base (right)

If a fin has a wide base, you can expect to take your time on turns. If a base is skinny, it’ll help you turn quicker, but the trade off may be speed going down the line. In longboarding, once you get the board “locked in” on the wave, going down the line, the force of the breaking wave will be pushing against the back of the board and the broad side of the fin. With a wide base fin, there’s more area to push, increasing board speed- not so much with a skinny base. That doesn’t help much when you’re trying to get to the nose of the board for a hot second (when I do it, there’s NEVER a witness around, boo).

Rake

This is the sweep of the fin’s base to the tip of the fin.

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More rake (left) and less rake (right)

Rake is probably the most debated of these basic features, and where a lot of innovation has happened. The early surfboard fins resembled true boat rudders- straight up and down, or hardly any rake. This stabilized the boards quite well. But later on, George Greenough was the innovator of the heavily raked fin of the 1970’s, that opened the door to carving and cutback styles that we see today.

Essentially, minimal rake gives extra stability when cross stepping, nose riding, or hot dogging (doing tricks). Heavier rake increases turning ability as well as increases speed from turns, since the fin tends to become more flexible with more rake, creating a whip motion off the fin out of turns as it flexes back into place. This also requires a wave that that has enough push to make a turn that would accomplish that.

Mmm yeah, when I read that again too, this is what I thought…..

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Oh, that Alan!

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Take just these three characteristics, vary them, and now you have endless combinations to play with. However, some fin shapes (templates) seem to have a fan club, and are prevalent in many surf shops. And my little collection.

In the next post, I’ll share some details about some of my current fins and the types, and the boards I usually ride them with. There are also ones I had to let go from my collection like Princess Elsa and her issues. Yikes.

If you’re wanting an opinion about the best fins for Tahitian barrels, you’re in da wrong place.

But if you can appreciate this surf maneuver as much as I do (surfer or not) you’re in da CraftySurf Zone….

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This is the type of surfing I want to achieve, yo

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

Easter Surf Fest…Over it.

Around here every year in Cocoa Beach, there’s Easter Surf Fest. It’s a weekend long surf festival and contest event that even I used to participate in… at least when we used to host the Florida State Paddleboard Championship, a mostly prone paddleboard 7 mile race. Good times. It used to be a really fun Waterman’s event.

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One of our posters for the Paddleboard Race back then- Jamie Mitchell signed my poster!

This year, they actually have a Dog Surfing Contest along with the Human surfing contests. May sound fun to some, but walking through the covered-up “Easter eggs” hidden in the sand to get to the water can invite Captain Hookworm right on in. Eww. I’m going to skip it this year, in addition to the huge crowds of people on the beach. Eww eww ewwwww.

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Be aware of your junk flying around on da beach

But for those who venture out to the beach for the Easter weekend, please be respectful of the area and of others. Take your trash with you, don’t leave behind cigarette butts in the sand, and avoid taking pets on the beach that may defecate and also scare/injure native wildlife.

Surfers understand when I say…..

One would never leave their place of worship with a scattering of cigarettes, fried chicken buckets, and dirty diapers behind them.

Why do you at the beach?

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Tell it like it is, Sister!