"Where do I put the fin?" This is a common question that is often asked when I deliver a new single fin board to its new owner. Since I have been posting quite a bit about my new line of Driftwood Caravan Fins by Fibre Glas Fin Co. I figured I would also write a quick tutorial on where to place a fin in any single fin box as well a quick video for those who want to see it done. I will also note that even with all of this information, where you place your fin should be based on the board's construction and what feels good to you.
Here is what you will need:
- Your fin
- A screw and backing plate (usually comes with the fin)
- A flat head screw driver
- A ruler, tape or a dime (a dime is about 1/2" in diameter)
Center The Fin in The Box
Step 1 - Place the backing plate that came with your fin in the center slot in your fin box. This should slide in easily. Push it forward or back, depending on which end of the fin the tow end is located (front or back). You can try to eye it up to where the hole in the tow end might be.
Step 2 - Slide the fin into the box by first placing the pin in the center slot of the fin and sliding it forward or back. Again, this should slide in easily and move forward or back in the box for quick adjustment.
Step 3 - Center the fin in the box. Using the measuring tape, or by eye, slide the fin into the box so that there is equal distance between the leading edge of the fin base and the front of the fin box opening and the trailing edge of the fin base and the back of the fin box opening. The fin is now centered. If you want to start off at center, line up the backing plate to the hole in the tow end of the fin, drop your screw in and use you flat head screw driver to tighten the fin into place.
This is usually the best place to start when you are trying out a new fin in your board. if this is your first go at it, you are done. Go surf.
Depending on the feel or performance you are looking to achieve, you can make adjustments to the fin position by moving the fin 1/2" forward or backward in the fin box.
Fin Forward - As a rule of thumb, the further forward the fin is placed in the box, the looser the board will feel beneath your feet, making it easier to turn off your hip. You may experience less drive out of your turns and you feel more energy shift towards the nose of your board depending on your board's rocker profile. An example of applications where I prefer the fin to be 1/2" to 1" forward in the box would be the use of a narrow base flex fin in a displacement hull style surfboard. This board is generally ridden from the middle and you turn the board by shifting your weight off your hip to initiate movement in the face of the wave.
Fin Center - This is a great place to start for most longboards, eggs, pintails, etc. This is a good neutral balance between having enough drive and maneuverability.
Fin Back - When you prefer drive and hold over maneuverability. This application is most common in longboards and specifically in noseriders where you are looking for stability and drive while you work the front end of the board. In mid-lengths, you can apply the same 1/2" adjustments moving the fin back in the box until you get the desired riding experience. On noseriders, I usually move the fin back until I have the trailing edge of the fin's tip lined up with very end of the board.
Trying Different Fins - You should try flex fins, pivot fins, different materials, and different outlines. Trying an new fin is the easiest and least expensive way to freshen up the riding experience of your go-to board.