Hi and welcome to Rogers Surfboard reviews. Today we are going to shift gears a little and look at Fins mainly FCS 2 fins as all my boards have FCS 2 fin boxes with only one having Futures boxes. I know a lot of people out there like Futures but to be honest I have never had an issue with FCS1 or 2 boxs. I’ve never had one blow out or give me any issues.
I will say however if you are surfing around rocks with FCS2 I would suggest running the back grub while I have never lost a fin on a beach break, on one particular day surfing over some rocks I dropped off a wave fell in the water and found it was a touch more shallow than I thought. Pulled on my leg rope to get my board back and one of the fins just tapped a slightly higher rock and it fell out. But that was my own fault and should of been more careful.Now onto the fins, as a rule of thumb I ride large templates mainly since I am 100kg and at this weight I am even above what FCS states is ideal weight for large fins. I find the large in any template just gives me that drive while still maintaining a loose fun feeling .
All fin brands offer different types of Tech to their fins. In FCS there is Glass Flex, Neo Glass, Performance Core and Performance Core Carbon. In Futures there is Thermo Flex, Alpha, Blackstix, Fire Glass and Tech Flex. Futures have a few others but they combinations of the constructions I have listed. Each brand has an entry level construction which is the Glass Flex for FCS and Thermo Flex for Futures. As you move up the construction types they fins start to be made up of Fibre glass, honey comb or bamboo cores, carbon fibre and Kevlar. Once you move into Fibre glass the fins become stiffer and then the carbon fibre and kevlar is used to control the flex patterns in the fin, stiffen the base for more drive and lighten the fin by using the honey comb cores. It is generally thought that a fin with more flex like the Black stick or Neo glass is better in small waves as the fin will flex and snap back helping create speed while a stiffer fin is better in bigger waves as they won’t flex as much which helps you to control your speed. But not everyone feels this way, some people like their fins swapped around as while flexy fins help with speed they will also stop you from projecting as quickly through a top turn on a big power wave as the fins will flex out and slow you down a little till your ready to complete the turn and continue down the line. The same can be said for stiffer fins in small waves. If your riding a board that already generates a lot of speed you don’t need the fins to help and stiffer fins will allow for quicker directional changes in weaker conditions. I personally prefer stiffer fins all the time and will sometimes use fins with inside foils to help with extra speed.
I’ve got two go to sets that seem to work for me in anything and the boards I ride. For my Spitfire and that style of board the AM-2 template just works, points, beach breaks, steep and hollow, fat face and weak they just seem to work perfectly for me.The second set I mainly use and this is in my Omni is the Reactor template, it’s a surprisingly lively template that seems to compliment the Omni well.
Now like surfboards I have a habit of wanting to try different fins so I have a fairly decent collection. While I’ve had great success with the Neo glass Carvers of late I’ve found either the PC or PCC fins the best. Don’t get me wrong for an entry set the Neo glass are great and far better the base construction glass flex that FCS offers.
I’ve been told that fins don’t really matter when it comes to surfboards and I actually completely disagree. I’ve had rubbish surfs on a board gone in or gone home swapped the fins to something else gone out again the board is completely different and does what I was hoping it would. So do be afraid to try different fins if you can afford it or hunt around online for a second hand set.
Like everything with surfing the most important thing is that it feels good. My best mate loves the Neo glass reactors which are based off the old K2.1 fins which he also like and that suits his surfing perfectly, me however with more weight prefers that longer base and more raked back fin. One thing I will say is fins won’t make a board surf beyond how it’s meant to ridden, best example of this is my Lost Mayhem V3 Rocket. The board surfed amazing so fast and loose (You can see the full review here) But I struggled to get it vertical, well as vertical as wanted and that came to the fact the V3 Rocket as wonderful as it is has a fairly flat tail rocker and the one I had was at the top of volume range meaning it would be harder to sink the tail and make it pivot.The point I’m trying to make is fins won’t always make a board surf in a more high performance manner.
On bigger days I do however run either the Firewire Template which is medium of the Mayhem template in large. Now over all these fins have similar template they have narrower bases which make them less drivey which is fine when the wave has lots of push and they are a rather deep fin that sits a touch more upright than say the Julian Wilson or the AM-2. I find this helps control speed better especially if you are trying to get in and out of barrels.
I strongly believe that if you have just upgraded from a long board and are now looking to move onto something shorter you should get two sets of fins IF money allows. My advice go with some with more sweep say the FCS Neo glass carver or the Futures Jordy Template in your size range and something more up right like the FCS Neo glass performer or accelerator and in Futures either the F series template in any construction or HS in your size. However if you can only afford one set then either the performer for FCS and any of the balanced template fins for Futures ideally with the inside foil as fins with inside foils help to generate speed.
The reason inside foils do this is a similar principle to a plane wing, as the water passes over each side of a fin that has a convex surface on each side. The water will flow smoothly past the fin while a fin that has flat inside surface with a convex side on the outside will not create as much lift and the water passes with more resistance. This is generally considered to help control speed while fins with convex on each side are considered to help generate speed.
Like surfboards fins also require some research and I hope this helps when the time comes for you to buy a new set of fins. Fins can upgrade your existing board and allow it draw new lines just as they can make that new board your brought surf terribly. Surfing is meant to be fun and if it feels good then that’s all that really matters. Both Futures and FCS have wonderful guides that help point you in the right direction, but they are only guides which will mean there will be some trial and error. Futures has its ride number system which I do find very helpful and wish FCS would come up with something similar. But you can look at Futures fin and translate it to FCS. While surfboard tech has jumped leaps and bounds ahead in the past 15-20 years it is only the beginning for fins. I believe in the future fins will not only push the limits of surfing but also help with the environment. This has already begun on a small scale with the Futures smart fin developed by Andy Stern and the team at Scripps Institution of Oceanography but with the technology being only new it is not possible for everyone to own a fin that allows scientists to gather data close to shore which is not normally possible due the volatile state that exists with waves breaking, strong currents which makes it hard to have sensor already doing this. This information will prove vital in the future to ensure we all can still enjoy our favourite breaks.
Till next time keep surfing.
For information on FCS and Futures click the links below
For more information on the Smart Fin click the link below