The 9" FCS Hatchet longboard SUP fin is the closest thing to a rudder
you can put on your stand up paddle board for better tracking in flat water
SUP paddling. The large surface area and upright shape of the SUP fin provides
added drive, promotes a longer turning arc, and helps hold the tail in when
nose riding while stand up paddle surfing.
Longboard Fin Configuration / Single SUP Fin Configuration
The single longboard fin configuration was the original fin configuration
for surfing back in the day. Before this, they actually used boards without
any fins, which had little control at all of course. Youd find people
dragging a toe for steering. Scary! While youll rarely see a single fin
configuration on smaller surfboards today, a good number of longboarders use
a single fin configuration (which is why its termed a longboard fin configuration).
A lot of basic SUPs come with a single fin configuration.
In a single SUP fin configuration, the fin acts as a single, central pivot
point. The longer (from front to back) and the deeper the single fin, the more
drag but also (in general) the more control youll have. If you have a
really wide, deep fin, it can start to inhibit turning, which is great for flat
water paddling but not so ideal for performance standup paddle surfing. The
more upright the fin is the tighter the turning radius you will have when stand
up paddle surfing. The more raked the fin (the more angled/arched back), the
more control you will have at high speeds.
About SUP Fin Selection
Whether you stand up paddle board on flat water exclusively, or stand up paddle
surf exclusively or somewhere between the two, its a good idea to give
some thought as to how SUP fins might be able to improve your performance and
enjoyment. In flat water SUP paddling, the most important thing paddlers are
looking for is better tracking and stability. If you dont think your
SUP fin choice matters, try removing the fins some time and see how miserable
the experience becomes. On the other extreme spectrum of the sport in standup
paddle surfing, SUP fin choice is perhaps even more important as paddlers are
looking to improve speed down the line, the feel and feedback thru your turning
arc, rail-to-rail transitions, stability in turbulence, and even SUP nose riding.
With removable SUP fins, you can change your set-up for different uses such
as flat water paddling one day, SUP surfing the next, and SUP downwinding the
When it comes to SUP surfing, there are a dizzying array of SUP fin configurations
to choose from including a longboard single fin set-up, a classic 2 + 1 SUP
fin set-up, a thruster fin set-up, a twin fin set-up,
or a quad fin set-up. Not all boards allow the flexibility for multiple fin
set-up configurations (high-end standup paddle surfing boards typically do),
so your choices might be limited in some cases.
The bad news is that many new SUP boards (especially in the lower-end of the
market) come with pretty basic low-performance fins just thrown in as an afterthought.
Its worthwhile considering an SUP fin upgrade. Often times with one small
change, you can dramatically affect the performance of your stand up paddle
FCS, which is an acronym for Fin Control System, is the pioneering
company in removable fin systems. Before the 1990s, most surfboard fins were
an inseparable component of a surfboard. The fins were glassed right to the
board. There were removable fins as far back as the 1960s, but it wasnt
that common and there was no standardization so things werent really
interchangeable. So to a larger degree, whoever was manufacturing the board
was also making the decision about fin configuration and fin selection. FCS
came along in the early 1990s and separated these three pieces by creating and
popularizing a standardized FCS fin box. Suddenly board manufacturing and fin
choice and fin configuration selection were largely separated.
FCSs standardization of fin boxes made removable fins commonplace. This
changed a number of things. First off, it allowed for massive advances in fin
design and performance as companies were tinkering with new materials and various
designs. Secondly, it allowed surfers to use one surfboard (the control factor
in this experimentation) and change their fin configuration to find out what
they liked best. They could even use different configurations for different
conditions. Lastly, it made surfboards far easier to transport with the fins
removed, which was no trivial event. Manufacturers and retailers were able to
store and transport boards much easier, and with much less risk of breakage.
In large part due to FCS, the variety of fins available is almost overwhelming
and surfing performance has made great strides. The market for SUP fins is really
just in its infancy (as R&D production cycles can be years in the fin industry),
but be sure that FCS fins will be at or near the forefront of what is to come
in the advance of SUP fin design.