If you were to order a shortboard today, any shaper would ask what fin configuration you would like. However, this was not the case, as even 15 years ago thrusters were the norm. It seems now, more than ever, surfers are experimenting, enjoying, and refining the quad fin.
Known for the ability to provide extra speed and a different feel than a traditional tri-fin set up, quads are becoming ever popular on the world tour, at big wave spots, and in local lineups. To make it easy, we’ve dug through all the available quad fin sets available today and rounded up the top contenders with something for everyone.
A Brief History
Like the wheel or peanut butter on toast, we’ll most likely never know who the first person in history was to glass 4 fins onto a surfboard. There are stories and claims going back to the 60’s and there were a few shapers across the world experimenting with them in the 70’s.
Gary McNabb from Nectar Surfboards in Encinitas is often credited as one of the first prominent adopters of the set up in the early 80’s. Across the globe, Australian Pro Glen Winton rode quads very successfully on the world stage in everything from mushy beach breaks to Pipeline throughout much of the decade. Channel Islands team rider/underground legend Davey Smith was also an early advocate of the design and generally ripped on quads.
The quad’s popularity never really took off in mainstream surfing up until the early/mid-2000’s. Most see quads current popularity starting when Santa Cruz shaper Stretch started working with Nathan Fletcher. Nathan put the quad back in the public eye by charging some of the biggest waves on the planet on quads. Since then Kelly Slater, Bobby Martinez, Dave Rastovich, Josh Mulcoy and others have helped boost the quad’s popularity and establish it more as a serious alternative to the thruster.
Advantages of the Design
It’s important to note that fins are a deep rabbit hole of design/hydrodynamics and are endlessly influenced by their placement in the board, (especially in relation to the rail) as well as the board’s concave, tail shape, rocker etc. But in general, these are the characteristics quads are loved for:
Added Speed: Quads generate more down the line speed and are faster off the takeoff than a thruster. There is also less drag without a center fin.
More Hold on Rail: When the board is surfed on rail, you have two fins in the wave’s face as opposed to just one with a thruster. Some surfers argue that this helps hold a much better line in very steep or barreling conditions and that’s part of the reason why quads are so popular with Big Wave surfers.
Top 5 Quad Sets
FCS II Matt Biolos Split Keel
A perfect choice for any wide tailed groveler or retro fish. The Split Keel is just how it sounds. Meaning, Matt Biolos took the outline of a large keel fin, and separated it to turn a twin fin set into a quad. This would be a great choice for anyone looking to modernize their fish and get the loose feel of a twin fin in small surf with more drive.
For small to medium sized waves, the Rastovich is a great pick for any performance shortboard. Designed by free surfer Dave Rastovich, he chose to include some bamboo is the base of the fin. Not just for looks though, as the bamboo is not only a natural renewable resource but actually helps to stiffen up the fins a bit. The Rastovich has proven to be Futures’ best selling quad fin.
FCS 2 Performer
FCS 2 and Futures Stretch
From the quad master, these fins are very unique for their cambered foil (on the inside of all four fins) as well as their beak tip on all four fins which has been developed for better flow and release. These fins were designed to work in almost anything and are known to perform well in large and powerful waves. These fins are available in both FCS 2 and Futures versions.
For the charger, there’s the well-loved Arakawa template now available as a quad. This particular set from Hawaiian shaper Eric Arakawa was developed (and tested) for the North Shore in particular at Pipeline and Backdoor. These are an excellent choice for any surfer looking to quads for hold and speed in very powerful waves.
Top Tri-Quad Sets
- Today, there are tons of five fin sets available from FCS and Futures, and here are a few that we see a lot of surfers pick up specifically to use as a quad.
Futures Stamps Generation
Consistently one of Futures’ fins best sellers for small to medium sized waves. This is a 5 fin set that many people buy to specifically use as a quad set up. It’s also worth noting that when we asked Vince the founder of Futures what the biggest sleeper fin set they make is, the Stamps 5 fins set was the answer.
The Al Merrick template is probably our best selling fin across the board and is the one fin most people on a shortboard seem to agree on. The Quad version, of this template in the stiffer Techflex construction, is designed for good waves and would be a smart pick before a trip or solid swell.
Futures Twiggy Gun
These should come with a warning label and an application form. These fins are for powerful waves, like really powerful. We’ve had customers ride these at spots like Mavericks and Jaws during proper swells.
There you have it, our picks for the best quad fin sets. If you have any questions about quads, fins in general or anything else, feel free to leave a comment below, send us an email to email@example.com or give us a call at 1-888-546-6176.