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Quad or Thruster Surfboards

March 20, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 158

There's a lot of discussion around surfboard fin setups at the minute. Competitive surfing is really taking advantage of the options made available by multi fin setups and now quads famous for their speed and hold are being rolled out in surf as diverse as the Hossegar beach breaks and in tubes at Teahupoo by the biggest name, Kelly Slater.

I've had a few guys ask me about what the big deal is with fins, you can take them off when you travel but what's the big deal? Well to me it's about flexibility, it's amazing how much a simple change in set up can make a massive impact upon your everyday board.

Looking to get a little slippy and slidey? Just drop that rear fin in your Thruster set up down to a trailer fin and you've got a mini stabilizer in a setup that's designed to turn on a six pence. Now bang out that re-entry and just try to keep it under control!

That's a simple change in fin use with big impact, but looking at the system you're using overall is the biggest aspect for me at the minute, I've been using the 5 fin options set out by Bruce McKee in his Bamboo 6'8" Fanatic Surfboard recently and had a great time switching in and out between the Quad and Thruster options. I've started sessions with four on the floor and as the surf's changed I've swapped out for the Thruster set up and felt the immediate change in the board.

To understand the difference between Quads and Thrusters let's look at the systems in a bit more detail.

First off the Quad, we've talked about them before, Kelly's been riding them a lot on tour, he's given credit to Bruce McKee for the fin set up which helped him win at Teahupoo, that probably drove Al Merrick crazy! When Kelly put away his eleventh World Title last year it was a quad catalyst. I'd expect to see a lot more Quads in use by the top riders on the tour this year...

The Quad - Four fin setup - is really two sets of twin fins married up and gives a helluva-lotta speed! It came from the idea of tightening up the super loose twin fins of the seventies, an extra set of fins to stabilise the water flow. There's no trailing fin there with this design and so in turn there's reduced drag, this fin setup gives a significant degree of control and hold so is often used for big wave boards. There's a pre conception that the increase in speed is a trade off for manoeuvrability, makes sense in big wave boards as you're not looking to get numerous quick turns in, you're looking to get down the line and fast. But, if you check out the Rip Curl Pro at Supertubes last year, you'll see one guy on a Quad board putting in more turns on one wave than most other Thruster riders in a heat!

The Thruster - Three fin Setup - is as simple as it sounds, three fins, the devil's in the detail though.

If you imagine a surfboard, it's more than likely you're thinking of a Thruster. That's all thanks to one guy, Simon Anderson who pioneered the thruster in 1981.

Now don't get me wrong, there'd been shapers beforehand who had used the tri-fin design. The Campbell brothers had been using three fins for their Bonzer set up Geoff McCoy and Bob McTavish all had three fin setups in action when Anderson hit on the Thruster. His idea of having all the fins the same size was the innovation which helped him rise in prominence on the pro surf tour, become a legendary shaper and all round hero to the shortboard generation.

The three fins allow for incredible manoeuvrability under control, it's popularly recognised as the best all rounder set up you can hope for. Every shaper has their own personal take on the exact fin placement but the theory is all down to Anderson.

It's strange really, one fin makes so much difference, but it's really down to you to try out the systems and find out what works for you, I haven't decided what suits me best, I'm still playing and in the end that's what it comes down to, which one will let you have the most fun. Get out there and give them a go!

Thanks for reading, if you're interested in surfing check out our site over at and our Facebook page at

Source: EzineArticles
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