Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Rotating Fin System "Surfboard Trucks" Thruster

6'3" 15 x 21.5 x 16 x 2.625

I made this one as simply a test platform for a new fin system that an online acquaintence, Dave Blake, has developed. The boardI put the system in is very similar to my MR-style twinnie. I thought about using a more typical thruster template for this application, but in the end I decided it made more sense to use a template and rocker I am already familiar with and enjoy riding, to better make a direct comparison. The only changes I made was to make the tail a squash instead of swallow, and to soften the rail a little. Everything else is the same as my twinnie. I did white opaque on the bottom/rails to hide the white finboxes. The pinlines were just for fun.

The fin system allows the side fins in a thruster configuration to rotate from parallel with the stringer to a "normal" position of 1/4" toed-in towards the nose. This very noticeably reduces the amount of drag caused by the side fins when the board is being ridden straight, while maintaining the benefits of a toed-in fin during a turn. It uses the water pressure generated by riding the board to push the fin into whatever position is most efficient for whatever type of motion is occurring.

I generally don't ride tris, as I don't like the way they feel when you do anything but turn them. They turn great, but I always felt like the brakes were on as soon as I stopped going rail-to-rail. As described, Dave's system seemed to have the necessary qualities to fix that particular problem for me.

Indeed, it did.

In a word, it was FUN. The kind of fun that leaves you smiling all day long. As I said before, I'm not a thruster guy. This was far and away the best session I've ever had on a Trifin. Actually, one of my two best sessions of 2006.

It was easy to find the sweet spot on this board since I've been riding one so much like it, so I knew what was going on with the very first wave I caught. I caught it, quick pivot to go right, then just rocketed down the line. I honestly could not believe the sensation of acceleration, it threw me so much I almost forgot to turn. But turn I did, layed it down into a deep backside carve, then snapped back around and was flying down the line again, just like that. It was really neat, to tell the truth. And it wasn't like you could say "ok, now the fin is toed in, now it is straight, toed out, etc...". The fins just seemed to be doing whatever needed to be done at that particular moment. Nothing felt odd or forced, it rode very naturally. If I wanted to straight-line it down the face, it was off like a rocket; if I wanted to crank a turn, it was only limited by my abilities; if I wanted to chop-hop a mushy section, it was making drive where I needed it.

Great system, great fun.

The set I tested were from the prototype run, and Dave is currently making some last-minute refinements before making his first larger-scale production run. Production models should be available soon. Visit Dave at

Swirly bonzer pintail; "The Frayed Ends of Sanity"

6'10" 21.5 x 2.625 thick

Widepoint-forward bonzer based upon my Twinnie template. The "Frayed Ends of Sanity" title came from a couple of sources of inspiration.

First, I was making this board for a trip to mainland Mexico in the hopes that I would be finding waves juicy enough to warrant a pintail in my quiver. This vacation was desperately needed, as I was nearing the end of my rope as an overworked RN at a county psych unit. My sanity was being pushed to the limit at work as I tried to help people who had already gone beyond their own limits.

Secondly, this board seemed to fight me throughout the building and glassing. Steps and processes that had always gone smoothly were causing me grief at every turn. Much of that might be due to my decreased frustration threshold and my first attempt to do color work with epoxy. As I tried to get the angles correct on the bonzer runners, Metallica's "frayed ends of sanity" came on the radio. Listening to that song, staring at that psychedelic resin swirl, it all came together and drifted away.


After that, it came much more easily.

The hotcoat flowed, the pinlines curved, and the board worked.

In the waves it was smooth, predictable, solid. Everything that the circumstances leading to its creation weren't.