Dec 13, 2013
Author: Chris Freeman
If you want to get the most out of windsurfing you really need to experiment with your equipment, with a large number of variables (downhaul, mast foot, outhaul, fins, straps etc.) we can all learn through experimentation. In today’s post Chris Freeman of Black Project Fins continues his Fin Talk series and attempts to explain a few simple ways to get the maximum performance and tuning range out of your quad board by adjusting the fin positioning and size.
The past few seasons have seen an explosion in the fins, types of fins and fin set-ups for wave sailors and recreational sailors to choose from. While this creates an almost infinite number of possible combinations and tuning options it also helps to create confusion. The result is that rather than make the wrong fin choice some riders might be encouraged to stick with what they know which might not be the best option for them. The aim of this post is to empower you to make informed choices about your fins and confidently pick what is best for you. Always remember that we are all different, we sail in different locations, have different styles, different equipment, none of our situations are the same so if in doubt please do not hesitate to email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I will be happy to give you some personal recommendations and / or answer your questions here on the blog.
Today we are going to focus on QUAD boards and how to get the right balance, a word I use a lot but one that is so important. Today we are using 3 x AWT Tour champion Ingrid Larouche’s 69 ltr Fanatic Quad as our test board. Everything we do in windsurfing is about balance, about calculated trade offs. You can have more of this but less of that, while it is true that advances in technology mean that you can have more of this and more of that than before there are still choices to be made and this is where windsurfing gets personal. What I love about quad boards is the range of tuning options available; you can even take your quad and ride as a twin and get two boards in one but that is another article! While this guide is specifically written for quad owners it also seeks to encourage all riders to experiment with their settings.
Quad Set Up Basics & Advanced Tuning
When we are setting up a board we need to compare DRIVE & LOOSENESS (also known as PIVOT). In smaller waves you may want to have increased looseness (more pivot) so that your board fits into the wave better and creates a more snappy tighter turn. In bigger waves a more drawn out bottom turn will be helped by increasing the drive which the board delivers which helps to promote a confident and secure turn. In side-onside conditions, typically the beach breaks which many of us ride in we are often looking for more drive and early planning, this helps to get you out through the white water and up to speed ready for jumps. On the waves you need more drive as less speed is being generated by the wave compared to a faster cross-off reef breaks like we find in San Carlos for example. We have two main variables which we can change and I will cover a little about each while trying not to write a long thesis!
- The size and type of fins
- The position of the fins
Maximum DRIVE and security
Back fins at back and front fins at front. This creates a longer profile and helps to engage more water to generate more grip and DRIVE. This helps to promote earlier planning and longer more drawn out turns. This is probably too extreme for most people but may help if you are finding it hard to control your bottom turn in bigger waves and stronger winds.
Max Drive: Back fins back and front fins forward
Lots of DRIVE with looseness
Back fins at rear of box and front fins in the middle. In this set up we have moved the back fins further back and left the front fins in a neutral position. This is the set up I would personally use in bigger waves (mast high and over) and when I am trying to get more control to boost (my often lacking) confidence! The wider setup helps to promote control and wider turns which helps you be in harmony with the wave. By keeping the front fins a center position we are not exaggerating the DRIVE feeling too much and we keep that LOOSENESS that we love from a wave board.
Drive with looseness: Back fins back and front fins middle
Max LOOSENESS in Smaller waves
Front and back fins as close together as possible. This set up helps to loosen up your board, by bringing the fins closer together a pivoty more skaty feel is experienced by the rider. You will notice less grip and drive but once on a wave the turning arch will be tighter and very LOOSE, you may find it hard when going upwind or sailing in a straight line as the board naturally wants to turn.
Max looseness: Back fins forward and front fins back
Very LOOSE without loosing DRIVE
For most people leaving the front fins in a neutral position and bringing the back fins further forward will generate the best balance. All boards are different and their boxes are in different positions, some have more overlap and some have none and this clearly influences your tuning. Production boards tend to have a smaller adjustment range.
Very loose with some drive: Back fins forward and front fins middle
Bigger fins for more DRIVE
If you are looking to extend the light wind capabilities and/or benefit from having more power then bigger fins are going to help you. With the quad boards you can achieve this in two ways. By increasing the size of the front fins you get more power and a more planted feeling, my increasing the size of the back fins you get more drive but keep a more pivoty feeling. So in bigger waves I would choose to increase the size of my front fins it I needed more power and in smaller waves I would increase the size of the back fins to get that power but keep the turning radius tight. In really onshore conditions you can increase the size of both for maximum drive but this does limit your turning if this is something that you are looking for.
Bigger fins for more drive
I want to return to the start if this post and remind myself and you the rider that my aim is to empower you to make your own decisions, encourage you to experiment, by getting things wrong we learn how to make them better. Over time you will become more confident, improve your sailing and ultimately have more fun. When we started Black Project we wanted to give riders the options to customize their fin set up to their unique set of characteristics, this is why we have a multitude of options which can be used to create virtually any multi-fin option:
- WaveMULTI 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 & 17
- MiniEPIC 11.5, 12.5, 13.5, 14.5, 15.5, 16.5 & 17.5
- Thruster 7, 8, 9, 10 & 11
If you would like your fin questions answered please get in touch and you may well find yourself featured in an upcoming article.
More to follow…
This article's author Chris Freeman of Black Project Fins is also the Head Judge for the American Windsurfing Tour and will be traveling to and running all the 2014 events.