Back in the day, people surfed on 100-lb redwood surfboards that didn’t have fins. They picked up drag not from fins but from having round bottoms.
Until Tom Blake rode the waves on his then unconventional surfboards – quasi-bottomed and square-railed. No, those surfboards didn’t have fins then, so imagine how it was a challenge for surfers to surf in a straight line?
This must be why, except for longboards, we rarely see anyone riding single fin surfboards anymore. And, when someone does, they’re instantly the outdated old soul, hippie, or poppycock. Find out in this article why you don’t know single fin surfboards, including:
- What single surfboards are
- Single fin vs. regular thruster
- Who should ride the single fin surfboard
- Best single fin surfboards
- How to ride a single fin surfboard
Table of Contents
What Are Single Fin Surfboards?
Single fin surfboards are sticks that adapt one the earliest fin setups in the surfing world – single fin. This original fin setup is typical in longboards and is usually long and broader than most fins, making the board controllable with only one fin.
Since the late 1930s, single fin surfboards have been widely used. It was when the early surfboard pioneer Tom Blake started mounting boat keels to hollow wood surfboards. This solution was from the belief that flat bottoms with sharp edges hold on the surfboard.
Back then, several experiments were attempted to enhance the single fin surfboard’s performance. But, it wasn’t until the dawn of new materials, like foam and fiberglass, dominated the surfboard market and introduced experimental versions of fin setup.
Single Fin vs. Regular Thruster
The possibilities to surfboard’s fin setup are endless. They come in different sizes, types, flexibilities, materials, patterns, rakes, heights, etc. Ultimately, the selection boils down to your personal preference and the waves you are surfing.
Often on most longboards are center fin boxes with two removable side bites on the rail. When ridden entirely, its center fin is usually ridden smaller than a single fin would be on the same board. These different setups have their own strengths and weaknesses. They are so different that switching between the two can make you feel like surfing different surfboards.
A single-fin setup allows you to go faster down the line with less drag and perform smoother, sweeping carves up and down the face of the wave. Your fin choice and placement in the box lets you play with the looseness vs. stability of your board. But, note that any quick movements may require working the tail and pivoting.
On the other hand, a 2+1 or thruster setup gives your longboard a looser feel allowing you to deal better with tighter maneuvers. In this setup, you can generate speed by working your surfboard and pumping rail to rail.
The extra fins may cause speeding in a straight line slower. You can try different positioning of your center fin in a thruster setup to alter the looseness and control.
Between the two, if you are going for gliding, smooth, connecting turns, and noseriding, a single fin setup is the best choice. Otherwise, if it’s a more active surfing lifestyle you are up to, with tighter turns and some pumping, go for the 2+1 setup.
Who Should Ride The Single Fin Surfboard?
Anyone trying to best their surfing skills must spend more time riding single fins. After all, this is where most boards of today are designed after. Even experienced and professional surfers wishing to polish up and improve their surfing should try single fins every once in a while.
Doing so will give them more concentration on their best shape and be one with the waves, too.
Single fin surfboards are best ridden in small to small-medium waves or larger and fatter waves.
Top 4 Single Fin Surfboards Reviewed
Not only will surfers gain fun and enjoyment when riding single fin surfboards, but they also taste the history of surfboard fins. With single surfboards, you can expect a relaxed ride with slow and smooth turns. Here are 5 of the best single fin surfboards in the market today
- Paragon Surfboards Retro Egg Single Fin Surfboard
- Formula Fun Speckled Series Surfboard
- Boardworks Froth 9’ Single Fin Longboard
- Catch Surf Odysea Single Fin
- Size: 6’6” x 22.06” x 2.75”
- Colors: Seaweed green
The Retro Egg Single Fin Surfboard from Paragon Surfboards is best for beginner and intermediate surfers because of its high-quality performance and features. This single fin surfboard has unique bottom contours, a low rocker, a gloss finish, and a top/bottom glass job.
You will love how these features add to the surfboard’s performance, even if you aren’t a pro-surfer yet. Its excellent construction – PU (polyurethane), makes the board durable and light. Thus, allowing this single fin surfboard to ride in different wave conditions.
While it is staked at beginner surfers and kids, its 44 liters of volume give it extra stability making waves a lot easier to catch. Overall, this single fin surfboard gives you smooth, unbridled turns, solid speed, and a perfect design.
|Can handle various surfing conditions||Doesn’t include other surfboard accessories|
|Light, durable, and excellent shape|
|Ideal for high-performance surfing|
- Size: 8’ x 21” x 3.25”
- Colors: Rincon (gray and black)
Formula Fun Surfboards is one exciting company from Irvine, California. What makes them unique is their sustainable ways of producing 100% recyclable high-performance surfboards. One of which is their Formula Fun Speckled Series Surfboard.
The Speckled Surfboard from Formula Fun is not your average foamie. This surfboard packs everything a major fun ride needs – contoured bottom, finished rails, and a cool design. Its stringer system made from the same wood used in surfboards is matched with a high-performance single-fin.
What’s unique about this surfboard is how it is made from a solid piece of copolymer foam that is almost impossible to break. You won’t worry about dinging up your board, as it can handle bumps and bruises without allowing any water to get absorbed.
|Made from sustainable products||More expensive than other single fin surfboards|
|Best for beginner to intermediate|
- Size: 9’ x 24″ x 3.5”
- Colors: Red, Sky
You may have seen these royal red sticks out in the water in one of your rides. Boardworks used to focus on manufacturing SUPs before evolving into a full-blown surfboard company. They’ve partnered with notable shapers in the industry. Thus it isn’t surprising just how their surfboards are making waves.
The Froth 9’ is one of Boardworks’ high-quality and minimalistic single fin surfboards perfect for beginners and kids. They are built with versatility considered thus are great for surfing different kinds of waves. It won’t matter if you are a newbie or a veteran surfer; this surfboard can help you rip on.
It utilizes lightweight and durable construction techniques making it very surfer-friendly. Its simple soft foam deck designs don’t ask for too much attention out in the waters. They don’t know that this minimalistic surfboard is made to last with its fully glassed EPS foam core and soft EVA outer skin.
|More affordable than most single fin surfboards||Its sharp nose makes it a tad harder for beginner|
|Can ride different wave conditions|
|Light and durable|
- Size: 7’5” x 22” x 3”
- Colors: Pink, blue and lime stripes
It has the shape of a classic longboard and a fin system that dates back to Tom Blake’s days, too. The Catch Surf Odysea Single Fin Surfboard gives you a stable ride you need from a longboard. This surfboard allows you to recreate feels from old-school videos of longboarders hanging ten.
Unlike Catch Surf’s other surfboards, this single fin surfboard is a classic foam board. It is made with new-age polyethylene foam with reinforcement of triple maple ply stingers and dual composite core for a stiffer feel.
You will love how loose but responsive this single fin surfboard is. These characteristics make it perfect for small, fun waves, and big ones, too.
|Gives out the classic longboard feels||Can be tough with turns and twists|
|Best for beginners and kids|
|Great design and durable|
How To Ride A Single Fin Surfboard
Single fin surfboards are not like retail therapy, where you can get instant gratification. They are more like puzzles you have to figure out. Unlike “plug and play” multi-fin surfboards, single fin surfboards are fussy, nit-picky, and hard to please. But, once you understand them, they can catch you serious waves.
- Prolong your bottom turn. Your bottom turn is the most important thing to get right on a single base turn. While this applies to almost all surfboard fin setups, it is even more critical with a single fin.
- Plan your wave well. Single fin surfboards don’t turn like thrusters or quads. It can be increasingly articulated and wide arced.
- Don’t fade hard. When the segment becomes too hard, it can get challenging to be back into the open face. Try to keep out in the open face as you can’t get much help from single fins.
- Watch videos. Get ideas and take the feel of the videos you’ve seen.
The simple way to describe single fin surfboards is – they aren’t as easy as thruster or quad.
“Is it hard to ride?” Yes.
“Will I have a hard time?” There’s a big chance.
But, as we have hinted above, single fin surfboards can genuinely help you refine and define your surfing style once you get the hang of them. Then you can enjoy a very smooth style that appeals not only to your riding desires but to visual senses, too.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Q: What size of single fin for surfboard should I get?
A: The general rule is to go one inch of fin for every foot of the surfboard’s length. For instance, if your stick is 7’, then you should get a 7” fin. Take note that this is simply a recommendation. It would be best if you also considered the board’s width too. Experimenting is the best way to find out what’s the correct size.