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

Easy Wetsuit Hack Attack

It has been cold for Central Florida, with our water temps dipping down into the high 50’s. At least today was warm, but it won’t be for long. I may have to break down and buy another full wetsuit that goes all the way down to my ankles, and that makes me sad. Worse yet, I’ve got to go try some on, and it’s a pain in the ass to wriggle into the freakin’ wetsuits.

Most surfers have heard the old trick about slipping into a wetsuit easier (dry or wet) by using a plastic shopping bag over the foot or hand, sliding the appendage through, then removing the bag. There’s even surfy gimmicks out there you can buy to help you like the Jimmy or WetSox, but you can make this so easily, it’s insanity.

This upcycling hack looks similar to WetSox. I’m taking an old rash guard of mine that’s a teensy too small, cutting a sleeve off, sewing up one end with a whipstitch, and BOOM! E-Z Wetsuit Slip On Tool. Here’s my process in pics (I wish WordPress would let me do captions again):

A little more permanent than a plastic bag, plus it’s washable. Schweet.

So what am I going to do with a sleeveless rashguard? I might come up with another project, or I may go surfin’ with this brah, he knows the feeling of a good wipeout…

Anti-Shark Attack Hack

Just to preface this, if you are in between a juicy bait ball and a starved shark, a well timed punch between the shark’s eyes is the best defense. 

Having said that, there are a lot of gimmicks out there claiming to prevent a shark from attacking in the first place. A lot of pricey gimmicks, of course.

They spent A LOT of money, yo

 
There are SharkBanz, shark deterrent wetsuits, and shark repellent stickers to cover the bottom of your surfboard. While I’m not exactly impressed with the small neodymium magnets that so many surfers have been buying for $50+, I’ll actually admit that there may be something to the notion of a shark’s avoidance of poisonous sea snakes. At least enough for the shark to take avoidance measures over prey. Somewhat.
A shark’s vision isn’t the sharpest, so high contrast objects get the most attention- they’re easier to discern. Sea snakes are very poisonous to sharks, and have distinctively high contrast (black and white striped). 

Typical sea snake, unloved by sharks….

 

Since objects are usually spotted by a shark from below, rather deep in the water column, I figured the best place to put my “sea snake” would be within the back 1/3 area of my surfboard on the bottom. This area is usually somewhat parallel with the ocean floor whether I’m sitting, paddling, or surfing on my board, so it would be the prime location. If a shark looks upward, the “snake” would be visible from below. Or so the theory goes.
I used plain bright white and black duct tape for this project. This combo ensures optimal contrast, especially when waters can become murky at times.

I placed my duct tape supplies about where I was going to tape across

I put the white duct tape down first, then the little black cut strips of tape on top

Look at that shark SWIM AWAY! Wow!

I dig it with the Core Surf octopus sticker! Extra scary to any shark!

 

Hey, I don’t warranty ANY of this, yo. If you honestly want to believe any of these gimmicks are going to work 100% of the time, well….bless your heart….

He’s buying it

The Latest Surfing Trends and Fads: Fall Edition

So I’ve dug up some more surfing trends and accessories you may or may not have heard about. Some are inventive, some are…..not ready for primetime. 

Did I get any of this stuff for free or at a discount? HELL nah. I wish. My opinions are definitely my own, and I tell it like it is, brah.

Gnarly wipeout, brah


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Grater Grip for Surfboard Wax

I bought one of these at their booth at a local surfboard factory sale. They were thirteen bucks back then- now they’re $9.99- which is still a little pricey. It’s essentially a flat plastic cheese grater to help put on your surfboard wax, and remove it. This could be a good idea if you like that type of traction on your board. I tried it, and hated the feel AND look of it, personally. Oh well.

Pros: Great for using up the tiniest bits of wax left in your surfmobile

Cons: Random people may walk up to you with plates of freshly cooked pasta




Stained Glass Fins by Rainbow Fin Company

I had to snag this fin!!!

 
I have bought two of these fins so far as gifts, and I have been pleased with them, as well as the recipients. I like giving something that’s beautiful AND useful. Since they are one-of-a-kind handmade surfboard fins, they can run 100 bucks and up, so it’s more of a collectible for the “more seasoned” (aka older) surfer crowd. 

Pros: Makes simple, functional artwork on your surfboard or on the wall.

Cons: At the price, it’s definitely an investment.




Wax Knuckles

This pic is from their website

I don’t own this, but it seems like an awfully good idea. It’s a wax scraper and wax comb that is ergonomically designed. If you like to change out your wax a lot, or resell a lot of surfboards, this scraper is kinda neato. It costs twice as much as a regular wax comb (these are $5.99), but if you do a lot of scraping, it might be worth it.

Pros: May save on some carpal tunnel surgery down the road

Cons: The HUGE handspan required to make the scraper comfortable to use may exclude other smaller surfer chicks like me. I’ll wait for the smaller Oompa Loompa Model to be launched 



Ventura Vientola Finger Surfboard

I thought this fad had passed, but it’s back for Boomers

When I first started surfing, I bought I tiny toy 3” plastic “….Lost” surfboard I sat on my nightstand for my own encouragement. I guess this is the upgraded model at seventy bucks, but it is handcrafted in California out of mahogany, comes with a tiny leash, carrying pouch, and a miniature bar of surf wax. This would look good next to your wine rack and humidor. Did I guess right???

Pros: That’s art to any surfer, and looks better on the wall than the Family Cat in a frame. Also good if you live in a tiny house and drive a Mini

Cons: You may start buying these to look at when your knees start hurting too much to use an actual surfboard




Hope I showed ya something new today!

Do ya EVER graduate in surfing?????






Gnar Bandages (DIY surfboard ding repair patches)

Y’all know I like to stay on top of those surf trends out there, good and bad. There’s another company out there, ViniPatch, that has a surfy gimmick where they sell surfboard ding repair

Nice gift, but too nice for me

patches in neato designs. They look nice, and they say they are waterproof for a while. But, honestly, these would be a nice gift, but never something I’d BUY for myself since it’s a little pricey for my average surfer status.



Of course, brah!! I’ve got a hack for you!

Duct tape is really awesome, and now comes in every freakin color, print, etc. It’s great to use as a temporary patch for small dings on your surfboard. If you follow my Instagram, you’ll see what motivated me to revisit this project….

Nobody got hurt, but the board’s in the Surf hospital

Although that ding was a little too big to patch-even temporarily- I still thought having some fun duct tape cut outs to use as ding patches might be wise.

These days, Duck Tape brand sells sheets of duct tape, which makes this project really easy, and you can even draw shapes on the back to cut out. I highly recommend non-stick Titanium coated scissors– they will not stick to the tape, and make it soooo much easier to cut shapes. I found mine in the clearance bin at the craft store for two bucks (kid’s version), but I’ve used them so much, I would’ve paid full price now. The bright prints and colors also will remind me to FIX the ding (or have it repaired).

My supplies

Use the wax paper as a peel off backing for the patches, thicker paper is better

I made some big, some little…

With all the different sizes, I can even layer the patches for more coverage. Be sure to throw a few rubbing alcohol pads in with your surf ding patches to clean the area before applying the patch. I wouldn’t leave these on long term, since any ding on your surfboard needs proper repair long term.

Clean off the dinged up area with an alcohol pad first

So much cute

I don’t have a fancy tin or box for these, just a ziplock tellin’ it like it is:

Sweetness

As long as the dings are on my board, and not on other surfers, I’m all good.

Yikes

The Latest Surfing Gimmicks and Fads

Like I’ve said before, I’m a total sucker for new little surfy inventions and fads. But, like anything, some are good, some are….interesting. I’m not a sponsored surfer by any means (still waiting to get sponsored by KFC so I can get my free biscuits), so these are just my random, average surfer insights. N-Joy.

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Dry Start Wetsuit System

Dry Start

Of course, this invention on Kickstarter is from San Diego- the land of chilly water. It’s a solution to dry your Wetsuit fast by using an attachment to the roof of your car. Then, I guess you drive like a maniac until your blow-out of your suit is complete. I can work with that. Also doubles as an impromptu body bag. Yikes.

Pros: Fastest way yet to dry a wetsuit and get out some road rage.

Cons: Bad news if the wetsuit bag flies off the roof of your car and finds a lawyers’ windshield.

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The Orange Peel Wax Container (Peel Surf Co.)

Peel Surf Co.


I’ve used silicone molds a lot for making my own wax, recycling wax, etc., so this is not a new idea. However, it’s a mold with a wax “break” line that fits into a car’s cup holder. Smart. Wax melts everywhere here in Florida, where it’s 90 degrees consistently every Summer day. But it’s microwaveable too, so you can whip up a batch of wax without a double boiler. Gnar.

Pros: Will save the inside of a surfmobile, might make you feel all crafty if you make your own wax

Cons: A little pricey at $12, but then, it’s kinda a specialty item. Good for Crafty Surfers- full disclosure: I totally backed this on Kickstarter since I love making wax. Just hope I don’t accidentally take a sip from this on a hot day.



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Fashion Color Wetsuits

Roxy, Billabong and XCel have reintroduced color back into neoprene again. This time, there’s less neon green and hot pink, and more modern colors and prints. However, sometimes I feel like I’m doing cosplay at the local Trekker convention in the current designs offered.

Pros: Some style in the water, bright Neoprene always improves the look of your surfing photos.

Cons: You may have to report to Captain Jean-Luc Picard, Number Two.



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Quiver Grip Surfboard Rack System

Quiver Grip

This was a new product I found out about recently, and the inventor is from Brevard County, Florida. This rack system uses plastic grips to corral your surfboards upright- like pulling a book from a shelf. It reminds me a bit of an IKEA solution to surfboard storage. It seems easy to install, and it’s cheap (less than $50 for a 3 board wall mount kit). Not crazy about the plastic beer-can holder look of the grips, though.

Pros: Like Huggable Hangers for your surfboards, inexpensive, easy to install and move around on the rail

Cons: Aesthetics of a frat house



Keep on trend, brah!

Ask Mr. Spicoli