Beginner Surfboard Fin Questions Answered!

Do Fins Make A Surfboard Go Faster?

Suring board fins makes a surfboard go faster by converting gravity and wave energy. Also, fins allow rapid change in direction, which helps to gain speed with technique. 

When a surfer is on the wave, the main power working on the surfer is vertical: gravity pulling a surfer downwards and wave pulling the surfer up. 

The water grips the rail and helps the surfer to stay on the wave to some degree. Fins, however, increase this hold significantly by increasing surface area, allowing the surfer to use wave and gravity energy to travel sideways. 

Fins, however, can also slow down the board due to drag. This depends on the surfboard template and set-up. Read here to learn more about fin setups and templates to minimise drag.

Are Shorter or Longer (Taller) Fins Better?

Choosing the size of the fin depends on what you want out of your board. If you’re going to make the current surfboard loser, try smaller fins. If you make the surfboard to gain more speed, try taller fins.

The Height(depth) of the fin determines its turning ability. The shorter the fin, the easier it is to turn or tilt the board from side to side. However, too short fins would make the board too loose. Longer fins, on the other hand, will help stabilise the board and maintain the speed.

Glass-on fins and removable fin systems like FCS or Futures

While most modern surfboards come with interchangeable fin systems such as FCS or Future, there are still surfboards manufactured with glassed-on fins.

Often, custom-made mid-length and longboard come with glassed-on fins. Let’s look at the pros and cons of having glassed-on fins vs a removable fin system.

If the fin designs are the same, the final glassing is the main difference between the glassed-on fins and removable fins. Removing parts of the fins inevitably creates some gaps between the surfboard and the fins.

I have not noticed much in the Future fins, but old FCS used to have all sorts of gaps after putting fins on.

Here are the main pros and cons of glassed-on fins vs removable fins.

Glassed On FinsThere is no Gap between the board and the fins: Better water flowCannot change the fins.
No variation in
– size, shape, materials and number of fins
Structurally more strong. Difficult to travel, especially flight, due to fins making the board bulky.
It can look better on certain boards. Limited choice of fins to use as glassed-on fins.
CheaperYour choice is the final.
Removal FinsTrialling different types of fins to change the behaviour of the surfboard. Fins are Expensive.
You can still fit your old fins even if you change your board.Some lack quality, resulting in irregular fitting. Read here for details.
Pros and Cons of Glassed-on f vs removal fins

If you are interested in a comparison review of FCS and Future Fins, read here


My name is James, the person behind With 15 years of experience in surfing, I am excited to help you on the journey to becoming a competent surfer.

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