2011: The Year of the Quad Fin

The Boring Sailing Report

Kicked off the new year on Saturday with a surprise session. Wind was supposed to be light, but turned out to be pretty good 5.3. Might have been a bit sketchier for me, but I’m trying out some quad fin boards and they’re definitely planing up quicker and getting upwind to Uppers better which really helped. More on the quad fins in a moment.

Nothing much special for waves yesterday but that changed today. Some pretty fun intermittent logo- to mast-high waves at Uppers. The swell is a NW swell, or maybe even WNW so it’s not setting up ideally. But a few fun sets were wrapping enough to make for a fun day.

Quad Fins

Now, the quad fins. I’m a bit late to the party with the whole multi fin thing. Never tried the twin fins. About a month or so ago, Matt Pritchard happened to have an 85 liter 2011 Da Curve quad in his van and he offered to let me try it. So, of course I did. I’ve been a bit skeptical but that one session opened my eyes to the possibilities of quads. Since that day, I’ve wanted to jump on some bigger quad fins for light wind days to see if they really do plane up earlier and get upwind better – important for me since I sail Uppers mostly. Last week I headed to the Fwd Hawaii shop in Haiku and picked up a demo Quatro quad LS 95 and tried that last Thursday, and I’ve tried the 92 liter Goya quad the last two days.

Update: For a great review of the Tabou Da Curve 85 quad, check out Andy McKinney’s Lost In Hatteras- 2011 Tabou DaCurve 85 TE Quad.

No doubt about it, the quads have a very different feel to them. They’re much shorter and your stance needs to be further back than single fins – mast track further back, footstraps set all the way back. In all three that I’ve tried, they feel like they sail higher up on the water than a traditional board and there’s a very different tracking feeling than a single fin.

Both the Quatro and the Goya definitely feel like they plane up faster than my traditional 95 liter single fin and there’s no doubt in my mind that they get upwind better. It does feel like these boards have let me get by with a sail size smaller than I normally would have used the last few days.

As for performance in the waves, both the Goya and the Quatro feel exponentially looser than a single fin of comparable size. It’s amazing how turny these boards are considering their volume. ┬áBoth are over 90 liters and I think I could turn sharper on those than on my small 79 liter wave board.

Riding the wave is where the quads feel even more different. Much more surfy, skatey, kind of a feeling. In both cases, I feel like the quads don’t have as much drive or hold their speed in the bottom turn as well as my single fin boards, so I think they require some rider adjustments there. It felt to like the Goya had a bit more drive and held its speed a bit better than the Quatro.

Turning off the top – that’s going to take some getting used to as well. Not real sure how to describe how they felt, not being a short board surfer. The closest thing I can think of is a snowboard analogy. Feels like cranking a turn off of a powdery embankment to me. Incredibly loose!

I’d still like to try a few more different quad fins (like the new Simmer quad, the bigger Da Curve quad, … right now the Goya is the leading contender of the Quatro), but I’m convinced that my next big board is going to be a quad. They’ll get me going in lighter wind, get me up to Uppers easier, and they’ll actually be much looser than even my smaller single fin boards. It could be interesting having one quad fin board and the other two be single fins, being that they have such different riding style demands.

What about you guys? Anybody ride both single fins and quad fins? Do you feel like that works out for you or is the difference in riding style too much?

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5 Responses to “2011: The Year of the Quad Fin”

  1. Morris Dancer January 3, 2011 at 9:14 am #

    Ive sailed four different quads now, not really taken with any of them.. On the quatro 84 and 95 it felt like you couldnt get your weight back over the rail on a top turn to get the rail to bite and drive round on shallow waves (too wide in the tail?).. The Fanatic 86 felt like it hooked up better but again i wasnt stunned by it.. I hear good reports on the KT series of boards but till i get a go on one Ill be sticking with my twins..

  2. Andy January 3, 2011 at 3:25 pm #

    Howdy-

    I think it’s a little unfair to just bulk all quads into one performance category, kinda like you would never just say that all single fins sail the same way. However, I do think there are some universal, noticeable traits of the quads- (please bear in mind that I remember just enough high school physics to probably be messing up all of the terms)

    1) small fin depth, near the rails, gives very little torqueing moment. ie, it takes very little effort to roll the board onto it’s rail or back and forth between the two rails. Compared to a single fin, I think this is very noticeable.

    2) lots of short, wide fins = a ton of chord length = great planing, drive, and acceleration. They’re also very happy, grippy, and drivey when barely powered/planing. That seems to translate into very good upwind performance, even underpowered, and great maneuverability and ability to accelerate from low speeds to high speeds if you do catch a gust or drop into a wave.

    3) having smaller fins near the rails allow the board a ton of control when overpowered- without all that torque from a bigger single fin, the board can happily ride flat and controlled no matter how juiced up you are.

    I guess single fins are faster, and ride a bit higher/more excited (especially when overpowered), if that’s what you’re looking for.

    I’ve ridden the Tabou DaCurve 85 quad, and lots of different single fin and twin fin wave boards. So, my background with quads isn’t super huge, but I like what I’ve seen so far :) The tabou, by the way, feels incredible underfoot- it’s just always right there under your body, no matter how hard or tight you’re trying to turn. Beautiful board!

  3. jeffbennett January 3, 2011 at 4:10 pm #

    Good points. Thanks for sharing Andy.

  4. jeffbennett January 5, 2011 at 7:17 am #

    Nice review by Andy of the Da Curve quad here:

    http://windsurfingmag.com/windsurfing-blogs/2011/01/04/lost-in-hatteras-2011-tabou-dacurve-85-team-edition-quad-fin-review/

  5. david January 14, 2011 at 10:19 am #

    I think rider skill plays a big part in getting the most out of some of these twin & quad boards.
    My quatro twin has at least forced me to improve my sailing, by forcing me to bottom turn with a LOT more weight on the front foot (as it feels like a slalom board trying to turn on the back foot).