I just got my first quad. Decided to take the plunge and whack on that extra fin. I wish I could say it's cos I'd read about all the good stuff that the pro's have to say about quads and I'm just keeping up with the trends. But actually it's a lot more simple than that.
Vaughan Jones is absolutely in love with his quad. Whenever I see him out at Millers we chat a bit about his board. His enthusiasm for it is so infectiousness that it finally got the better of me. I had to try one for myself. Luckily these days we can have our cake and eat it too. Going quad doesn't mean you're stuck with 4. Dennis just popped in 5 fin boxes - so I can ride my board as a conventional thruster or a quad. Or if I'm feeling really left field, I can stick in a 5th fin or take it down to a twinny. Options, options, options.
So what's the skinny on quads anyway? Four fin quad set-ups first arrived in the early 80′s during the thruster rampage, but didn't survive the 3 fin love affair. But they're making a comeback. Mick Fanning just won at 'Chopes on a quad.
Turns out quads are way faster than standard thrusters or even twin fins. How's that possible? Won't an extra fin create more drag? Actually, because both sets of fins are working together on the rail, there’s nothing to slow you down like the center fin of a thruster....meaning quads are a lot more efficient with speed. The water just flushes out the back of the board, as there is a lot more area there in between the rear fins allowing it go faster.
Quads are also much more responsive than thrusters. Cos the fins are set further up the board it essentially puts the fins directly under your back foot. The end result is an ultra responsive board that goes where you want it to go and fast.
Another plus for the quads is that 4 fins boasts an extraordinary amount of holding power in larger surf. A large number of the world’s best big wave surfers use quads at Jaws and Mavericks. However - they're not great on late drops - where you need that back fin to bite into the face early.
Quads are meant to be much better than tri's once in the barrel, as you got your two side fins in the wave face holding you in. And when the foam ball knocks on the tail of your board, it gives you the lift let's you ride it out better. They don't like top-to-bottom surfing as much as the thrusters though - and tend to give flowing arcs and not tight snaps. Horses for courses I guess, there's no such thing as a board that can do everything well!
Fine-tuning is everything. Don't just expect to chuck a set of fins in and have it all fall into place, you gotto tune your quad fin setup to work best for you. Is the tail sliding too easily? Go with a larger rear fin set. Is the tail too tight? Go with a slightly smaller rear fin set. Is the board lacking drive? Go with slightly larger front fins. Is the board too hard to turn? Go with slightly smaller front fins and rear fins. Does the board feel out of control? Try a rear fin with a symmetrical or 80/20 foil. Wanting drive off the bottom and loose of the top? Place a flatter foil or bigger rear fin for the bottom turn side and a smaller double foiled rear fin on the off the top side. That all sound greek? Don't worry - chat to Dennis - he'll sort you out!
So how do I like my new quad. Damn, it's fun! I'm a real average-joe surfer, happy if I just manage something that faintly resembles a top turn. But even with my less than stellar surf skills I can certainly feel the speed you get from it in steeper waves, and it turns like a champ. Seems to like cutties, although it doesn't like flat, mushy waves as much - I don't feel as if I get as much drive from it as a thruster. But that might just be my lack of skill, not the board!
It's certainly worth getting your next board set up with 5 fin boxes - cos then you have a 2 for 1 bargain. You can ride it as your conventional thruster or as a quad. The only extra cost is gonna be having to buy a set of quad fins - way cheaper than a second board though! Give Dennis at the Boardroom a ring, and start the journey to becoming a quad lover! If nothing else, it's a lot of fun....and isn't that what surfing's all about?