When it comes to catching waves, do boosters really matter? For as long as we can remember, purists have shut down all technologies such as e-foils and propellers that take out the very core of surfing. But now that there’s a new innovation in the market known as electric surfboard fin, will these kinds of products finally fit in the exclusive world of surfing?
In October 2020, the world’s first electric surfboard fin — ‘Boost Fin’ — was launched globally after starting their Kickstarter campaign that received over USD 240,000 pledges from their USD 50,000 goal in 2019. As we speak, this start-up company has already have over 11,500 pre-orders on their website.
But as good as this product may seem, a lot of people scoffed at the mere idea of an electric motorized fin. Upon its release, it gathered lots of attention and received mixed reviews from enthusiasts worldwide. Initially, it didn’t receive a lot of support from surfers as well. The Boost Fin even got featured on a famous Instagram surfing page, ‘Kook of the Day’.
On this website, however, we try to play fair the best we can. Instead of poking fun, we’re going to discuss how the Boost Fin can possibly create an impact and help some of our surfer companions, including what we really think about this revolutionary invention.
How The Boost Fin Started
Boost Fin was created by two surfer amateurs — Dmitri Kozhevnikov and Alexei Ostanin, both of whom had their own share of struggles of keeping up with other surfers and getting up into the lineups of famous surf spots like the Huntington Beach.
The idea started when Alexei had a shoulder injury from rally sport racing and found it hard to paddle for longer periods. He then discussed his predicament and resolve with his friend and business partner Dmitri, who then proposed mounting a motorized fin at the bottom of the surfboard so they can easily propel into the waves while paddling less.
In the next few years, the two of them worked hard in researching and designing a fin that doesn’t drag and keeps stable in the water. They’ve also optimized its tracking while keeping its surfing dynamics intact. In 2018, Dmitri and Alexei created their first prototype, had their third prototype tested by 2019, and finally — sold their product to the public by 2020.
Boost Fin also collaborated with pro surfers Bobby Hasbrook (2018 West Coast Champion) and Erryk Jennings (WSA Tour Champ, 2nd Place) in testing this electric fin’s capabilities in the water. After trying it out, Bobby commented,
“I wasn’t expecting it to have that much boost, that much power. I had no issue catching up. I was like catching ripples.”
What is an Electric Surfboard Fin?
Let’s cut to the chase. An electric surf fin will neither turn your surfboard into an e-foil nor make it as fast as that. On the contrary, it will only be mounted at the bottom of your surfboard to give it a similar feel of a powered and motorized board. It’s designed to catch waves faster and help make your life easy when riding against strong currents.
It’s not created for pro surfers and purists (because heaven forbid if we say it’s made for them). Rather, this e-Fin is for surfer amateurs, the injured, and old folks who need a little boost with catching waves because they find it difficult to paddle with their arms. With this, they’ll be able to ride the waves faster than their regular pace at a duration that’s longer than they usually can.
Aside from those things, an electric surfboard fin will also help in getting to the lineup of powerful swells easily, as well as getting back to the breaking point when you get dragged by a wipeout. If you’re a beginner, you’d also appreciate the long boosts it give when you’re trying to catch and ride a wave.
In summary, the main purpose of the Boost Fin is to help you make the most out of your surfing sessions. 80% of surfing consists of paddling, so the fin helps you by cutting that percentage in half. With it, you’ll be able to relax for a short while as you wait for your turn in the lineup, but at the same time, it doesn’t take away all the work because it still gives you the freedom to paddle on your own. Simply put, this product gives you an edge over other surfers.
Now, on to its specs!
Dimension and Weight
Weighing 2.7 lbs or 1,200 gms, the Boost Fin isn’t very lightweight at all. It adds a substantial amount of weight load to your board, not to mention its fairly large size of 10.5 by 9 by 3.5 inches. So the winning question is, will that affect the tracking and drag of your surfboard? Yes. This motorized fin is also bulkier and bigger in size when compared to regular fins. But while it may somehow affect your performance when riding a wave, the good thing is this won’t ruin the nature of your surfboard as it’s easy to install and remove.
This electric surfboard fin is made from non-corrosive materials such as ABS plastic and fiberglass reinforced polymer to protect the motor inside the fin. Aside from saltwater, the Boost Fin is also compatible with freshwater use. The materials used are also shock-resistant, therefore it can take on some gnarly wipeouts and axing.
The Boost Fin is easy to mount on any kind of surfboard, and unlike e-foils, this electric fin is compatible with any rider’s weight, age, and size. What we appreciate is the sleek and modern design of this e-Fin that will look nice on any kind of surfboards.
The Boost Fin also looks like any other regular surfboard fin, the only difference is the attached propeller at the back of it. This product comes in two colors — white and black. Aside from surfboards, it can also be used for longboards, shortboards, FCS and FCS II Futures, and SUPs.
Because of its price, the Boost Fin is known as the cheaper alternative to electric surfboards that cost around USD 4,000 to 12,000. With this electric fin, however, you will only have to spend a little more than USD 349, not including its add-ons.
So now that we’ve compared its price to an e-foil for reference purposes, let’s also check out their differences when it comes to speed. Note that the Boost Fin is not a motorized board, so it won’t glide or speed along as effortlessly as an e-foil. To compare, the Boost Fin only goes about less than half of an e-foil’s speed, which has a record of reaching 25 mph. The electric surfboard fin, on the other hand, has a maximum speed limit of only 11 mph and can boost pedal speed by 10 mph on flat water.
Sure, the Boost Fin is no e-foil, but with its 800 watts motor and 20 lbs of thrust and turbocharged energy, its speed and paddling power can match 15 people who are rowing a canoe at full power. Not bad, huh?
Good things really come in small packages, like this Boost Fin’s Li-ion 3500 mAh rechargeable battery, for instance. It has 2 to 4 hours of battery life and can last in water for 15 minutes if used continuously. But if you use it for adding boosts or for short bursts of speed its power can last for about 60-90 minutes.
How to Control
The Boost Fin has a remote control button that can be attached either at the tip of the surfboard or worn on the wrist with a wristband. It’s easy to control as well, so riders of all ages will be able to use it without any fuss.
This control comes with two buttons that feature two modes — short and long boosts. If you quickly push the short button, the control will send a signal to the electric fin, which will then propel your board and run the motor for approximately two to eight seconds. Push the bigger button and it will activate a longer boost that lasts up to 20 seconds. Now if you want to stop the boost, simply push your chosen button mode one more time.
In Boost Fin’s current versions, its speed and power can be controlled and managed with a smartphone app available on Apple Store called Electric Boost Fin App. According to the manual, the manufacturer preset of the Boost Fin’s power is set at 35%, but you can control it according to your preference. The higher the power you set it, the higher its battery usage.
How to Install
As mentioned above, you can mount this electric fin on any kind of surfboard. It’s simple to install and it doesn’t require tools, either.
The Boost Fin can act as a sole or a center fin, whichever you prefer. Just remove the old fins on your board, and then screw in the boost adapter at the bottom of the board where the electric fin will be mounted. Next, place the Boost Fin in the adapter and secure it with the screws attached to the fin.
To activate the Boost Fin, place the bottom of the screwdriver on the small light/ remote signal above the Boost logo. When activated, the light will turn green and give small beeping sounds. You can watch the step-by-step process in this video below.
Is the Boost Fin Worth Your Time and Investment?
There’s no telling if the Boost Fin will live up to its hype, or whether or not other surfers will also see it as a helpful thing — only time can tell that. As surfers, on the other hand, here’s our honest opinion about this product.
The Boost Fin is the pioneer and the only motorized electric surfboard fin in the market. That said, there’s no other product that we can compare its price and specifications as of the moment. At the price of $349 for a single fin, it’s safe to say that it is slightly expensive, but it can be a cheaper alternative to much more expensive e-Foils if you’re on a tight budget. Take note that it is only available for pre-orders; therefore, you can expect some delays on your fin’s delivery.
As specified by its creators, the Boost Fin is made to assist injured and old persons who have difficulties getting into the lineup of famous swells. But as noble as that vision may seem, disabled surfers who have trouble paddling and keeping up with swells and peaks may pose a danger — not only to other surfers but to themselves as well.
If they’re going to use it for recreational purposes away from the lineups, however, then by all means, go ahead. The Boost e-Fin can also be used even if there are no waves.
Now, in another surfer’s point of view, this electric surfboard fin will not be welcomed with open arms in the lineup. Surfers respect other surfers who ride fair and straight, so if you want to make friends, you should think twice about using the Boost Fin. If you keep out-paddling everyone and powering your way in the lineup, there’s a big chance you’ll get in an ‘accident’, especially if you’re in hardcore surfing spots like Steamer Lane and El Granada.
It’s true, the world of surfing can be complicated. Surfing purists fight off any kind of innovative features, but if you show them real power and technology, well, they kind of change their mind. (Kind of what happened with e-Foils, today, it’s one of the must-haves in the surfing category.) This is another reason why the Boost Fin may not sit well with other surfers. You see, it has power, but it’s not the kind of power they want. In other words, if you’re a newbie, this fin can be considered as a cheating or a kook device.
Here’s another point to take. If you’re a beginner, will this electric surfboard fin make you a better surfer? Not really.
As this fin will assist you with paddling and practically ease your way to the lineup, it won’t help improve your surfing skills and body coordination. Plus an electric fin that huge can have some effect with water gliding and shredding. Which brings us to the next point — what happens if the power of the Boost Fin runs out and you still want to surf?
The added weight and load on your surfboard that serves no purpose will just be a nuisance, and because you can’t take it out without a screwdriver, you’d have to surf with it attached to your board the rest of the session. According to its creators, they’re now working to create a solar panel that recharges the fin as you surf, but until then, you’d have to settle with its boost duration that lasts a maximum of one and a half hours.
And so, here’s our final verdict, folks —
The Boost Fin is truly an original and innovative invention that can help the old, disabled, and injured persons who need a little push in the waves. It’s also a good device that you can bring and use during the summers if you prefer chill surfing sessions. Got a kid who likes to surf occasionally? This one will be a cool gift to give for Christmas. Just make sure to keep an eye on them at the beach as the sudden boosts may lead them off somewhere far off.
Now, if you’re a serious surfer who’s looking to create a mark and get into exclusive surfing groups, we suggest giving this product a pass. We admit that the Boost Fin is an awesome product, but the roots of surfing are just so deeply engraved into the hearts of hardcore surfers that there’s no place for a device like this. If you want to gain respect in the surfing world, you have to earn it with your skills alone.
Bonus: Smartfin- A New Way to Monitor Ocean Warming
Surfers go hand in hand in preserving the ocean environment, so if you really want to impress the surfing crowd, you may want to check out another awesome innovation called the ‘Smartfin’. Unlike the Boost Fin, Smartfin will not affect your surfing or assist with you in catching waves.
You use and install the Smartfin just like any regular surf fins. Their only difference, though, is that this surf and paddleboard electronic smart fin is integrated with GPS and a built-in electronic sensor that collects data from the ocean. Among those are the coast parameters, sea surface temperature, water pH and clarity, salinity, and algae content. Basically, the idea is for you to act as a citizen scientist — you’ll help with ocean research and keep tabs on coastal health, all while you enjoy your favorite watersport.
The Smartfin program was launched in 2017 in partnership with The Surfrider Foundation and Scripps Institution of Oceanography. All fins will be available in 2022, so you might want to mark that on your calendar to get the first dibs on this cool product.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: In case of a wipeout, will the electric surfboard fin continue working?
The Boost Fin has a signal that connects with its remote control. In case you fell off your surfboard, the electric fin will be able to detect that and it will stop automatically.
Q: Are there other electric surfboard fins in the market?
As of 2021, the Boost Fin is the only electric fin that’s available in the market for surfboards. There are other motorized fins for SUP; however, they’re not compatible with surfboards.