Beginner Fin Guide – an adventure with FCS fins
Do you have FCS fins or another removable fin system? If so, it may be easier and cheaper to experiment than you might think.
When you’re just starting out, you probably won’t be able to generate the speed necessary to feel the fin response. You also won’t have full control over your turns—YET! Don’t worry, once you get good enough (and you will) you’ll have a lifetime to explore different fin options.
As you advance, you can play around with different fin setups. Once you can stand up and ride across the face of a wave, a good way to start experimenting would be to remove the center fin from a tri fin setup. (Unfortunately, if you have glass on fins, a longboard, or a single fin, you won’t be able to do this.) You can also try out your friends boards if they have different fin setups.
When I was a beginner and first starting to ride on the open face, I accidentally lost the center fin of my 7’8” funboard during a session. I had FCS fins and I think the leash somehow got caught around the fin, yanking it out. (Make sure your fins are tightly connected!)
Unfortunately, the fin was not floating around nearby and I never found it. I thought I was screwed, but I continued my session on my newly christened twin fin setup. I found that the board still went straight, but was looser and more ‘skatey.’
Since the summertime waves I was surfing at the time were relatively weak and slow, the loss of the center fin gave the board more ease in turning. Boards don’t like to turn when they’re barely moving.
I had so much fun experiencing the difference that I didn’t even replace the fin for another month! I found that the board had a bit extra sideways movement without the center fin.
Remember, surfing is all about having fun, so don’t ever feel like you “should” have a particular fin setup, just because it’s cool or accepted. For example, FCS fins might seem like the most cutting edge technology because they spend tons of money on advertising, but there are a number of other fin systems that deserve a look as well.
Beginners should ABSOLUTELY check out Pro-Teck replacement fins. They are made as FCS Fins, Future fins, and Red X fins. Even experienced surfers should look into them.