At this time and day, SUP Races are won by seconds or less. Surely choosing the right SUP race fin can make a difference that is somewhere within that range….
Basic principles for choosing a SUP fin:
- The more volume a fin has, the more stability/traction it gives, in return, turning gets harder!
- The more volume a fin has, the more drag it creates. Longer fins create more drag vs. shorter fins with same volume (the longer the leading edge in water, the more drag)
- Smaller fins: Faster. Larger fins: Slower (in flat conditions with same rider).
- Bigger, heavier, stronger riders can ride / need bigger fins!
- If your board is narrow / feels tippy and conditions are choppy: choose a bigger fin!
- If your board is wide / stable but feels slow, try a smaller fin!
- Shape of fin is much more important than weight / material!
- The best fin is useless if it does not properly fit your board and is loose. Make sure the fin fits your board 100% (does not move in the finbox).
- When doing a race in areas with seagrass (hello Eleven City Tour…): Use a weed fin!
- Bigger Board: Smaller fin – Smaller Board: Larger fin
- Is your balance good: Choose a smaller fin! not so good? Rider a larger fin!
- Can you paddle straight? Choose a smaller fin! not so much? A larger fin will help you stay on track. The time you loose paddling zigzag or switching too often is usually much more than the time you loose due to the drag of a larger fin.
- Fin box position: the further your fin box is in the front, the deeper your fin needs to go.
Don’t forget the big picture:
- A fin that is too small for your size / ability will cost much more time via not going straight, falling off vs. the time it saves by being smaller
- A fin that catches weed will slow you much more down than the shape can make you faster
- A fin that does not properly fit your board (shakes left and right) will cost much more time than it saves by having a better shape vs. fin that came with board.
Some exemplary SUP Race Fin Shapes and my personal POV on them
Danny Ching SUP Fin:
This fin gives a lot of stabilty but is not too long, so drag is still ok. I use it for long distance open ocean races.
Slater Trout Fin
good compromise between speed and stability. Easier to turn vs. Danny Ching fin. I use it for beach races with many buoy turns.
FCS Weed Fin
my choice for 11 City Tour (but might go with smaller one next time). It is great as no weed gets stuck to it and you can paddle on one side for a long time but it is 10″ long, so it creates quite a big of drag, since my board has quite a lot of volume for my weight and size, I think I could ride it a bit shorter.
Futures Fins KEEL SUP Race Fin
with only 44square inch and a very low profile and little leading edge, this is maybe the smallest and fastest (in terms of drag) race fin. It is designed for flatwater racing, long straight lines (not turns in the surf)
FUTURES SUP Keel fin – video
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