With the exception of longboards, hardly anyone rides single fin surfboards anymore. Many consider the single fin board a retro board and even consider it to be outdated. Most surfers have never experienced surfing a single fin shortboard. It might be a good idea to try though, as the feel of single fins is much different and might help spice up your surfing.
How Does A Single Fin Ride?
If you've never ridden one, this is what you can expect. It definitely feels very different to a tri-fin thruster and presents a new style of surfing that is very enjoyable. You may need to spend some time adjusting from a style of pumping down the line like you normally do on a tri-fin to trimming the waves more. It can be difficult making your own speed on the wave. It teaches you to take whatever the waves give. You learn to look further down the line and try to milk the wave until it gives up. It feels stable trimming down the line and it has incredible hold. It’s fast in a straight line as there is less drag due to the reduction in fins. Remember a tri-fin board is only faster when it’s pumped rapidly from rail to rail. However, in a straight line, the extra fins produce drag.
When riding a single fin, you use more of a pendulum style of surfing. You feel a slight delay for maneuvers to develop. Expect smooth arcing turns to be more fluid and flowing with a bigger emphasis on form and style. It rewards you when you're moving more smoothly and it punishes you when you're moving abruptly. You get nice unbroken sweeping turns that you don't get with multi-fin boards. Overall, it's just a cleaner, more glide oriented style of surfing.
Single Fin Style
While taking advantage of a tri-fin’s leverage and torque requires an active style, a single fin offers a very smooth style that appeals to the visual senses. You may recall seeing footage of 1970s soul surfers using long, arcing turns to stay close to the wave’s power source. In contrast to modern surfers who attack waves with bold, aggressive moves that place their thrusters in seemingly impossible positions on a wave, the single fin surfer blends into a wave’s shape and outline. His movements mirror the water’s movement. There is a certain grace achieved that is difficult to replicate. With some practice, perhaps we can all appreciate this “outdated” and beautiful style.
If you haven't tried one yet, I highly recommend you pick one up or borrow one from your buddy. It's a lot of fun and it's always great just trying something new for a change. It might even give you a whole new challenge that will take your surfing to the next level.
If you want to see what type of single fin boards there are available, check out the boards in our surfboard rack.