Fins are essential parts of a surfboard that gives surfers stability, direction, and control when riding the waves. They help maintain speed and cut through the water that would otherwise prove challenging. The right surfboard fins help new surfers improve their board’s response and overall performance.
There are different sizes and materials for surfboard fins and a variety of fin setups like FCS and Futures. But before heading to the nearest surf shop or scouring the internet for “FCS II fins”, it is best to review the basics of surfboard fins.
Choosing a surfboard fin
The first thing surfers need to check when buying fins is the type of fin box their surfboards have. Various surfboards have different fin boxes or the part that receives the fins. The two general types of fin boxes are the Dual Tab and the Single Tab, and they are not cross-compatible. So it’s important to choose fins that match the appropriate fin box.
Since new surfers are still experimenting with different surfing styles, they probably want to buy a range of boards to try. Some might already have more than a couple of surfboards to start their collection. While there will always be compatible fins for every fin box type, surfers can benefit from a versatile fin that fits with any fin box. The FCS fin setup does this job very well.
Is FCS good for beginners?
Surfers of all levels and abilities have probably heard of FCS or Fin Control System. It is a type of fin setup that allows more versatility in fin attachment than other systems. Traditional fin attachments include tri-fin placement, four or quad fin placement, or a five-pin setup. These are stand-alone types and can only be used exclusively between compatible fins and surfboards. The FCS, however, can be used in all these three types.
Beginner surfers don’t have to evaluate every fin and surfboard in a shop to find which ones will fit each other. They can spend more time choosing the ideal surfboard for more pressing criteria, such as their skill level, height and weight, and surfing conditions in their area. Moreover, if they already own one or a few surfboards, they can pick any FCS system with them and enjoy the rest of the day catching the waves.
FCS is very easy to install and remove. They have a couple of tabs that are fastened to the surfboard using screws. The latest FCS design, commonly marketed as FCS II fins, does not need any screws during installation. The fins lock into the surfboard’s plugs with a downward force, creating a seamless connection. This additional convenience encourages beginner surfers to continue practicing the sport.
What size of fins should beginner surfers use?
Whether a surfer is a beginner or a professional, there are a few consistent guidelines in choosing a fin. Like surfboards, choosing a fin size depends on the surfer’s weight. It ranges from XS to XL, with an appropriate range of weight for each. Extra Small (XS) is best for surfers weighing 120 lbs or less, while Small (S) is suited for those weighing 120-155 lbs. Medium-sized fins (M) best serve the 140-175 lbs range, the Large (L) for 165-200 lbs range, and Extra Large (XL) for those above 190 lbs.
Surfers near the cut lines sometimes go a size up or a size down depending on their surfing style. Aggressive surfers often go one size higher, while moderate surfers prefer to scale down. Furthermore, narrower-tailed surfboards best work with smaller fins. Narrow boards are typically used for higher-speed surfing, and smaller-sized fins offer the right amount of resistance. On the other hand, wide-tailed boards benefit from bigger fins to balance the larger tail area.