Naum, four to the fore, Hossegor. Photo: Timo
Have a peep at what most of the ASP Top 34 are riding in events any time the surf is 6ft plus and hollow, and you’d be forgiven for thinking that quads are now the established norm.
With the extra hold, bite and speed, four fins set ups allow for higher lines, powered up pumps and general performance in heaving pits. But while that’s a relatively recent phenomenon, some cats have been beating the quad drum for decades. Take Bruce McKee, an Australian based in Europe for a good part of the 90’s and naughties, who’s project Quattro has now eventually gone from oddball to acceptable. But they’ve been around for as long as thrusters. There’s quite a famous SurferMag cover of Larry Bertleman doing an FS air on a quad… from 1984.
With McKee more or less in a minority of one banging on about quads for years and years, it wasn’t until Nathan Fletcher and Stretch’s refined epoxy four fins came on the scene about 8 years ago and that minds opened up. Suddenly, shorter four fins, possibly in day glo were de rigeur on the North Shore. With claims of high lines, extra speed and grip, one season a brand new saying emerged from recent convertees, upon watching someone go down in an impossible closeout,
“He would’ve made that if he was on a quad.”
Quads were Marmite, love em or hate em, nobody was indifferent.
But. Quad critics reckon they don’t turn, tend to want to do extended straight lines rather than tightening arcs, and are stiffer than the established thruster. “I’ve had a few quads lately just because everyone else is riding them, personally I think they are fast but a bit of a nightmare to turn unless you are 11 times World champion” reckons jay Bottle. Despite the difference in opinion, one thing’s for sure, with so many manufacturers putting 5 boxes in most shortboards, these days you’d be hard pressed to find an Average joe that’s never tried one.
Since: Glen Winton/Bruce McKee 1981
Who: Everybody. Sultans of slop to tube tyrants.
Why: Speed plus grip, rad high lines backside.
When: Generally preferred for super small waves or pumping barrels. Not so much when it’s head high perfect for turns.