You can say what you like about Thomas Carlyle, the 19th-century historian and polemicist, but he understood basic hydrodynamic principles. “A man without without a goal,” he wrote, “is like a ship without a rudder.”

Old Carlyle might have gone one step further: “A man without a goal is like a surfboard without a set of performance-core fins.” That would have been almost equally true. 

For some of you this will be axiomatic. Others will be wondering, “Will I even be able to tell the difference? Does it really matter that much? What the fuck does ‘dynamic flex pattern’ even mean? Last week I surfed with my fins back to front and I didn’t even notice.”

Premium fins, made using fibreglass or carbon-fibre and/or built around a hex core, are to their cheap plastic equivalents as homemade sourdough is to synthetic sliced white bread. Of course you’ll be able to tell the difference, you twat.

And even if you can't, you must pretend that you can, to yourself and everyone else.

But maybe you’re looking at all this the wrong way. You wouldn’t buy a beautiful Colnago steel frame with Arabesque chrome lugs and then fit it out with a Shimano Tiagra groupset, would you? Or drop a grand on some new speakers but skimp on the amplifier?

Have a bit of self-respect, man/woman!

What's your vibe, anyway? Thruster? Quad? FCS? Futures? Indecisive, subject to change? We've got you covered.

 

 

 

FCS II Filipe Toledo Fin

FCS II Filipe Toledo Fin

System: FCS II Thruster
Materials: Performance Core with ultra-light 3D Core
Weight: 188g (M)
Price: £85 / €95 / $120 USD

FCS

Filipe Toledo liked the “super responsive” FCS Perfomer fin but sometimes found it just “a little twitchy”, especially in bigger conditions. He also liked the “control and confidence” he got with the more drawn-out Mick Fanning fin.

So he went to FCS and said: “Can you make me something in between those fins that I can ride everywhere, and in any type of waves?” And FCS said: “Pois não” (which means, confusingly, “of course”). Full review

 

Lunasurf 6 Fin Futures

Lunasurf 6 Fin Futures

Material: Lightweight hexagonal core
Weight: 226g (Thruster) / 268g (quad) 293g (quad + knubster)
Price: £150 / €165

Lunasurf

This epic set of fins comes from Lunasurf, Ian Battrick’s wetsuit/accessory brand based on almost continuous year round R&D conducted from the back of his van in SW France, Iceland and Scotland. If a more consistently-tubed surf brand head honcho exists, we’d like to know about him or her.

With a lightweight hexagonal core construction, giving flex akin to glass ons (yes please!) and templates designed to cover every surf condition from soft beach breaks to ledging reef tubes, never before has one set of fins offered such versatility and performance while serving up cool, trippy cosmos graphics, very much the Lunasurf schtick. Full review

 

S-Wings SW500 Fins

S-Wings SW500

Materials: Fibreglass
Weight: 225g
Price: €125

S-Wings

Surfers, for all their self-proclaimed open-mindedness, can be conservative so-and-so’s, often unwilling to deviate from convention. So when Guethary, France based design boffins S-Wings came out with distinctly different looking fins, they really needed to work to take off.

Great news: they do… and have.

Biomimetic, as the name suggests, involves mimicry of the natural world. Have a look at fins on fish and they don’t all look like surfboard fins. Full review

 

FCS II Mick Fanning Fin

FCS II Mick Fanning Fin

System: FCS II Thruster
Materials: Performance Core
Weight: 238g (L)
Price: £85 / €95 / $120 USD

FCS

Initials, by the way, are an absolutely fine basis on which to choose a set of fins, and if you’re going down that route I can think of no two letters I’d rather have on my fins than M and F, side by side, in that order (sorry Frederico Morais and Filipe MacDonald). Stability, reliability, speed, technical perfection, nothing too out there, nothing that’ll rock the boat — Fanning’s surfing seems to embody so many of the qualities that surfers look for in a set of fins.

This fin is all about the drive: the forward drive. According to FCS’s own classification system, the MF rates five stars out of five for drive, compared to just one star for pivot. That’s a veritable shitlot of drive. Full review

 

Quiksilver Bradley CB AG47 Fins

Quiksilver Bradley CB AG47 Fin

Designed by: Christiaan Bradley
Weight: 230g
Price: €109

Quiksilver

Originally a fin foiler by trade before becoming a shaper, Bradley knows a thing or two about rudders. While shaping a Channel Islands board for Taj Burrow some years back, Bradley “chopped 3 mil off a large AM fin set, glassed the fins on and Taj went on to nail a few wins on the board.”

Bradley took his design, with all three fins the same size (as opposed to the centre rear fin being slightly smaller) and came up with his own, now-famous CB fin template. “More area in the tip, large base and fins all the same size to deliver good drive and hold” is how Bradley describes what he was trying to do. “The fin was solid fiberglass and designed to feel like a fixed fin as a lot of pros at the time were still using fixed fins.” Full review