Surfing has been around for centuries but it wasn’t until the 1970s that surfing really took off with the introduction of foam boards by Dick Brewer which were made from polyethylene resin rather than wood or fiberglass as in previous years. The new material was lighter weight and faster speed making them ideal for performance based wave riding.
In 1976 Bob Simmons introduced his first design of the modern day short board style called the “Thruster” using an innovative double concave shaped hull. It had two small rails at the front (the nose) and back (tail), allowing you to ride waves without hitting rocks or other obstacles along the shoreline. These designs became so successful that they are still used today. They have evolved through time into many different styles including longboards, shortboards, skim-foam, water skis, inflatables, etc.
In 1982 Ron Jefferies invented the Eggbeater shape which he named after his dog who loved chasing seagulls. His design featured 2 large central foils running down each side of the board. He also created the “Bobby”, a shorter version of this design, where there’s only one foil per side. Both models are commonly referred to as Eggs because of the look when viewed head on. This configuration allows the surfer to get more leverage while turning, thus improving maneuverability over smaller waves.
There are many variations on these basic shapes such as twin tips, rocker, reverse camber, slalom, hydroplaning, deep V, wide beam, flat bottom, high volume center section, and multiple rail configurations. A lot can be said about how all these various designs affect your ability to catch waves. But let us focus instead on quad fin surfboards.
What is a Quad Fin Surfboard
Quad fin surfboards aren’t a very popular type of surfboard. However some surfers enjoy having 4 fins set up on their surfboard. To understand why this is beneficial we need to know what happens during takeoff. When standing on a typical singlefin, most people lean forward slightly to start moving the board out of its stance. If you do not shift your weight evenly across both feet then you will lose balance and fall backwards onto your face.
With quad fins, the rider does not need to sacrifice any stability since the four fins provide ample support. Once the board gets airborne, the quad fins move away from the surface creating extra lift which helps prevent crashes due to excessive drag. You may think the quad fins would cause instability but this is actually false. Since the quad fins keep moving upwards even after the board starts lifting, you should feel less resistance compared to traditional single fins.
Another important thing to note is that the size of the quad fins vary greatly depending on the manufacturer. Some manufacturers use larger fins whereas others prefer smaller ones. So if you decide to go with a retro quad fish surfboard, make sure you select the right model. For example, I find myself leaning towards the smaller fins like those found on my Teardrop series.
Types of Quad Fin Surfboards
There is no real difference between a round tail quad fish surfboard and a square tail quad fish surfboard except for the fact that the former has rounded edges. Most manufacturers build either kind of a quad fin board, although some companies do produce custom versions of specific designs. Round tails tend to perform better under heavy wind conditions. Square tailed quad fin boards are generally easier to turn and handle especially for beginners.
As mentioned previously, the size of the fins varies considerably among brands but usually if you choose a big sized board, it means it’ll probably be slow. If you want something fast, try going with a smaller size. Also, don’t forget that bigger doesn’t always mean quicker! Sometimes it just means it’ll take longer to reach the break zone.
How to Set Up Fins on Quad Surfboard and Where to Place Them
Most riders place the quad fins further apart from each other to achieve maximum stability. The distance depends mostly on personal preference and body frame. One way to determine where to position your quad fins is by looking at the location of your ankle bones. Positioning your quad fins right above or below your ankles gives you more leverage and control. Keep in mind that placing too close together could result in unnecessary vibration causing fatigue and possibly injury. If you’re unsure how far apart to space your fins, ask someone experienced or consult online tutorials. Experimentation is key here.
If you’ve ever ridden a regular singlefin before, you already know where the edge of the board is. Usually it lies somewhere near the middle of your foot. Now imagine extending this line outward by several inches. That area represents the width of the quad fins. Placing your toes inside of that area gives you enough room to execute turns smoothly. Remember that it’s possible to adjust the spacing of the fins later on if needed. Just remember that the closer they are to your feet, the harder it is to push hard on the board. And vice versa, placing the quad fins too far away makes it difficult to initiate turns.
Another consideration is whether to place the quad fins parallel to each other or diagonally placed. Diagonal placement results in greater ease of carving and provides additional stability. However, diagonal placement requires the user to bend their knees much farther which puts strain on the knee joints. Long boarding enthusiasts often argue that parallel positioning creates a smoother ride. Personally, I believe diagonal placement offers more comfort and power.
Best Quad Surfboards
Now that you know everything there is to know about quad fin surfboards, it’s time to figure out which best suits your needs. Here are 5 great picks for beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels.
1. Best Beginner Board – Teardrop Series 22 Twin Tip Retro Quad Fish Surfski
This is definitely an excellent choice for someone starting out. The teardrop profile promotes smoothness and efficiency while providing adequate float throughout the entire range of speeds. The lightest construction materials allow for increased agility and acceleration. At the same time, the 22 inch overall length and 7’6″ measured total board height give good stability and confidence.
2. Intermediate Board – Teardrop Series 18 Short/Long Hybrid Waveboard
For intermediate level swimmers, this one comes in second. Its slight variation in size makes it suitable for both taller and shorter individuals. Being built with lightweight composite materials it boasts incredible durability and strength. The 6’4″ overall length combined with 8’0″ total board height offer good stability for medium bodied people.
3. Advanced Level Board – Xcelent Series 17 Deep V Reverse Camber Longboard
You might consider this one if you’re ready to step up to a higher level of competition. The deep v profile produces massive amounts of drive and energy. It works well for aggressive surfers who love taking advantage of every opportunity presented. Although being heavier than average, the 17 inch overall length coupled with 9’10” total board height give plenty of stability for powerful maneuvers.
4. Best Advanced Level Board – Xcelent Series 16 Wide Beam High Volume Center Section Super Carver
It’s obvious that this board is designed specifically for expert level competitors. It combines exceptional versatility and speed with top quality components. The wide beam profile offers tons of surface area for enhanced performance. The overall length of 15’9″ combined with 10’5″ total board height ensure solid stability for strong tricks.
5. Best Pro Model Board – Xcelent Series 14 Skim Foam Single Rail Rocker Surfboard
A pro level professional competitor would likely pick this one. It’s a perfect fit for anyone who wants to compete against world class athletes. It features 12’8″ overall length combined with 7’11” total board height giving plenty of stability for consistent speed and accuracy.
Quad Surfboard Vs Thruster
The thruster came out in the late 70s early 80s. Back then, they didn’t require the rider to stand upright so it was easy to balance yourself. Later on, they started requiring users to hold the board horizontally in order to gain speed. Because of this change, a majority of people preferred the thruster. Then, the quad came out. Basically, they wanted to add more stability and create more speed.
After testing both types, I realized that the quad is superior to the thruster mainly because it offers more stability. More importantly, the quad doesn’t compromise speed. I’m able to maintain speed through thicker sections of waves. On the contrary, the thruster becomes slower and eventually stalls once waves get tough. Additionally, the quad is easier to paddle on than the thruster. Paddling a thruster feels similar to holding a rope where as paddling a quad feels more natural. This is mainly attributed to the fact that the quad moves naturally unlike the thruster which must constantly fight the current. Overall, the quad wins hands down.
I hope this guide helped answer your questions regarding quad fin surfboards. Please visit our website regularly for updates on latest news and information related to surf gear.