Before fins, surfers slid along wavering planks, managing unfavorable imbalances the slightest ripples or deviations a wave would produce. Fins suddenly rooted everyone, and kept us poised with less difficulty. The evolution of fins over the years has ferried us from the genesis of the singlefin to diverse 5-fin setups, allowing interchangeability between thrusters and quads.
Your fins are beyond noteworthy in determining how you surf. Fins account for half of your potential performance – you heard it right, your board is only half the battle. Having an adequate set, proper placement, and a configuration befitting to the conditions can enhance your sliding, and ultimately your satisfaction in the surf.
Quads and thrusters are the most favored choices of modern shortboarding. Thrusters came into play to expand on the lacking drive of a twin-fin, and quads were furthered from that to meld aspects of the twin and thruster. The differences between the two may in fact diversify your quiver in the near future.
Now comes the choice... which one? Remember, it is not the person who chooses the board, grasshopper, but the wave. Adding a quad to your collection allows you to surf certain waves to their full potential, but does not replace the snappy, top-to bottom action of a thruster.
If you head out where you’ll need to stall for a barrel, or want to perform radical maneuvers, the thruster is your choice weapon.
A fast, hollow wave, or quick beach break that may need some extra zoom will be easier to master with a quad, which will get you over, under, and around to where you need to be.
Ultimately, it depends on the waves you like to surf and the style in which you like to ride. If you are set on a shape but want to try it as a quad or thruster, a 5-fin option may suit you, allowing the best of both worlds. Remember to experiment with different shapes and sizes of fins, as fins are the true ground upon which you surf on!
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