Single, 2 + 1, Twin, Thruster, Quad, Bonzer, Oh My...
When researching your next board you will encounter a confusing modern marvel of hydrodynamics that will enable you to glide with ease or throw buckets of spray. To further complicate things fin design is almost endless, but not to worry here is a primer to get you started.
Single - Typically on Longboards & Mids
The advantage of a single fin system is definitely the speed produced. The fewer the fins the less drag, which produces a more laid back ride with a smooth, slow turning performance, the larger size also prevents spinning out in tubes, and nose riding.
Longboard single fin boxes are long and allow you to move the fin forward for a looser feel, or further back for more control.
2 + 1 - A larger center fin & 2 small side bites
Greater control & stability than a single fin especially when on rail.
Extra fins give you extra drag.
Twin - Originated in the 1970's and still used on modern boards
Greater speed, stability, and control while turning than a single fin. Gives the board a skate-like feel with longer, more drawn out turns.
Great for smaller/ weaker waves, but not for larger waves (tail slide can occur).
Thruster (3 fins) - The most popular set-up
Most widely used, with 3 equal sized fins. The rear middle fin provides greater stability & maneuverability than twin or single fins. Works well in all conditions and wave sizes.
The rear fin provides more drag, which slows you down.
Quad (4 fins) - A little bit Twin, A little bit Thruster
Channels the water to the tail for increased acceleration, while the two fins closer to your rail adds stability & hold. Works well in hollow waves, powerful surf, & small/medium waves.
Not ideal for beginners & works best in cleaner surf.
5-fin - Endless possibilities
5 fin boxes allowing for quad, thruster, or twin.
Change your fin set-up with the conditions. Allowing greater freedom & versatility for your board.
Next week we will dive a bit deeper and get into Fin size, shape, rake, etc. Please let me know if you have any questions and I'll do my best to answer them ASAP.