Fins are important. It’s a surfing fact that a lot of people (if not all) will agree to. Those tiny things found at the bottom of your surfboard affect how fast you go, how smooth you turn, and basically how well your overall experience will be. And because of the big role they play in the sport, they have been continuously improved up to this day.
When talking about fins, two brands always come to mind – FCS and Futures. With such big names endorsing and using them, they’ve mostly dominated and changed the fin market. However, despite efforts to innovate, much of the fins available to the public are straight out linear. Though modern surfers have been open to changing fin layouts – from single fin to five-fins, there had been some resistance with adding curves to the design. Ever heard of FCS’s PC-CRV curved fins? It’s most likely you haven’t and that’s because the design never took off. AU Fins though are undeterred.
Most fin companies and shapers believe that flex is most important. And because changing molds is extremely expensive (think millions of dollars), they only modify the fin’s flex and foil and still stick to the usual straight design. The team behind AU Fins, however, are all about shape and contour. With the company tagline being “Waves aren’t flat, why are your fins?”, they are not scared to challenge the norm.
For AU Fins founders Brad Pierce and Kevin Borba, it just didn’t make sense that we’re trying to ride a naturally curved wave on a straight surface. According to them, linear fins will make you slide in a straight line while curved fins let you follow the wave easily. And though the discovery of the design was purely accidental, the physics behind it is scientifically proven.
Pierce explains “The mid-face curve creates what we call a spiral propulsion. Water moves in vortices, which is a circular motion, and it catches that inside mid-face curve and creates a spiral uplifting to the bottom of the board. You can literally feel like you’re flying down the line because it creates so much lift on the bottom of the board and you’re getting a lot more speed down the line. That mid-face curve also locks the water in under the board so it feels more stable and fluid.”
At the moment, it’s still not the popular choice amongst surfers but the open-minded ones are willing to give it a shot – enter Nathan Fletcher. In an Instagram post, he had some pretty sick curved fins slotted in his Stretch board with the caption “Fast n loose.” When asked by SURFER about his experience with them, “They’re fast and loose and they turn well. I’ve been riding them mostly in smaller head-high, glassy waves and I love them. It’s insane they even work because of how weird they look.”
If there’s a complaint that they keep getting, it’s that the fins are too ‘sticky,’ but this is nothing a change in trailers or going for a different template won’t fix according to Borda. Overall, the feedback they’ve received from the thousands of sets they’ve distributed is positive.
So is surfing ready for this unconventional fin design? It may be too soon to tell, but if the guys at AU continue to innovate and the surfing community becomes more open-minded we might see them make a debut on the CT sooner than later.
To know more about AU Fins, visit their website.
What’s your take on curved fins for your surfboard? We’d love to hear it.
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