Beau Young talks single and twin fins
In 1935, after years and years of ocean time on all manner of craft, Tom Blake decided to affix a rudder (or fin) to the tail section of his hollow redwood 15-foot long surfboard. It may not sound like a big deal, but it radically altered the history of surfing. Prior to this, in the early Polynesian times, you could only turn a surfboard by hanging your toes over the edge of the board to turn it in a very rudimentary fashion.
The importance of fins should not be overlooked. They are one of the most important aspects of the art of surfing. Fin choice is just as important as board choice and there are a multitude of composites and configurations to suit your chosen board and particular surf style. Given that each and every person prefers a different fin setup, I thought I’d give you a basic understanding of the feel of a single fin and twin fin setup.
The single fin
Riding a single fin is the original surf style. 1 fin has a different projection and gives a different feel than any other fin configuration. The single fin swings through turns with more drive. A single fin turn is generally referred to as a ‘pivot turn’. Riding with a single fin will increase the style and flow that your surfing takes on because unlike the three fin thruster board/twin or quad fin, you need to forecast your turns further down the line of the wave. You need to pick your turning points more carefully than any other fin setup.
You should try and turn single fin surfboards all the way off the bottom as well as all the way off the top of the wave. Single fins are not great mid face wave turners, they generally pop off the face of the wave, but they sure are a beautiful way to ride a wave when you get a feel for it. The board feels less restricted due to only having 1 rudder and the turns are crisp, swinging pendulum style on a longboard and a tight sharp arc on smaller boards. Probably the most difficult fin configuration to master, but definitely the most rewarding and fun. I recommend you take a look at the Surfboard Warehouse 'I'm Single' surfboard, it has the shape and outline of a traditional single fin, but with all the bells and whistles that come with a modern day board.
The Twin fin
Twin fin style surfboards really came to prominence in the mid to late 1970’s. Australia’s Mark Richards is probably the greatest exponent of the twin fin design, winning 4 world titles on this particular setup.
Personally I love how loose and free the twin fin design feels through their turns, combine this with the down the line speed they give and it’s a recipe for pure surfing joy! However, the twin fin can be very, very unpredictable! Some would say erratic at best. So, if you are starting out I don’t think the twin fin is the way to go. In truth, getting the perfect twin fin setup for your needs will take some trial and error. Twin fins personified the 1970’s surf era and just like the single fin, if you’re willing to put the time in, the rewards will be sweet!