Author Topic: My Single Thruster Quad Battle  (Read 2594 times)

OkiWild

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My Single Thruster Quad Battle
« on: July 23, 2019, 01:18:15 AM »
Reading around the Internet, there’s a lot of information on the single vs. thruster vs. quad fin set up. Some of it dead wrong or bass-aackwards, a lot of contradicting info from site to site, and almost none of it applying specifically to SUP. I’m “data driven,” and had a really difficult time ferreting out anything but anecdotal opinion. Where quads are concerned, a large part of the problem seems to be mis-application of the info, where the intended use of the board, and therefore fin setup, is completely different. For instance, the term “quads are a lot looser,” or “fin release is a lot better” is thrown around quite a bit. If that’s the bottom line, then why do so many big wave guns now run a quad set up that’s touted to have better hold when turning or on a steep face? Most of us know it’s a different application, and different fin placement. On one, there’s a wider tail with the rear fins tucked up closer to the forward fins. The other has a narrow tail and the trailing fins are farther back, and farther from the rail. But someone just coming in and looking for info on fin setups will be bombarded with info that won’t make sense, or is irrelevant to their application. The standard surfing SUP has the same issue, where it doesn’t really meet the criteria of either of the above boards, and outside of reading people’s personal experience on this forum, there’s no real detailing of how it all works for this particular type of board. In this case, the “particular board” being a somewhat standard surfing template, in the form of a blown-up prone board. Wider tail than a similar surfboard, and a wider fin spread than a similar surfboard. My purpose in writing this up is to potentially help others in search of real-world experience, should they spend some time in the forum search section, as I did, looking for people’s experiences with the different fin configurations on a surfing SUP.

So, I’m relatively new to SUP. A lifetime shortboard surfer who first stood on a SUP in late July of 2017, and quickly went all in. Sold all my shortboards, and acquired a fleet of SUP’s. I found that with a surfing SUP, the fin setup is much more critical, and to a much greater extent affects how the board works compared to a traditional shortboard. The following is my two-year battle with fin setup on the surfing SUP. Of course, it’s not all inclusive, but I think it’s a good all-around observation. The two boards I really worked with are an 8’10”x29”x116L gun, and a 10’x28”x127L performance longboard. Both with a five-fin setup, including adjustable center box. Both have pulled-in, thinned out round-pin tails, and tapered rails. Specifically, they are the Blue Planet Ninja Warrior and NP10. The fin selection tops $1,500, some cheap Amazon specials, many expensive with someone’s name on them.

*Note: In the following observations, I’m not saying something is good or bad for all, only for me. Others may like the way a certain fin configuration makes a board feel. What I’m trying to impart is the difference I observed for a given setup.   

On the gun. First with a thruster, as that’s what I came from. Yea, it goes OK, but what I found is that compared to a shortboard, I can overpower the board, and slip the tail without much effort. OK for some. Not something I like. Bad knee injuries from years of sliding the tail, I like to keep the board connected now. Where a shortboard, with its much narrower tail and closer-grouped fins, will just hook and book, the wider tail (more surface area?) and fin separation on the SUP makes the board want to slip. I can’t put the board up on a rail at high speed, and just jam it. I have to think about how much it can take, and sometimes let the board decelerate first. Tried a bunch of different fins, with small gains and losses. The deeper Futures GL2’s worked the best. I also experimented with the “2+1, using several 7” center fins (FCS II Kai Sallas and Up Surf generic) . Although this would control the slip a bit more, it would make the board a dog; lose more speed through a turn, noticeable loss in rail-to-rail transition response. I have to ride it with the center fin all the way in the back of the box. The board snaps around easier with the fin moved forward, but hold is decreased.

One day I thought “OK, I’ll try the quad.” Past experience on shortboards had kept me away from doing this, but that experience can be summed up with quad templates put on thruster boards. With the full GL2 quad set up, the board came alive. First thing I noticed was that instead of maintaining speed in the first bottom turn, the board felt like it accelerated hard. So quickly in fact, that before I was ready, the board was heading right back at the top of the wave. It transitioned over to the other rail very quickly, and I put it on the opposite rail to a point way past where I knew the slip was coming…but it didn’t slip. The board just carved around and accelerated back down the wave face. It was magic. I tried several different quad setups, and like the thruster, small differences, but the overall massive difference was between thruster and quad. I could never get the thruster close to the quad in hold and acceleration, but I could get the quad close to the thruster in turning circle. Not quite as tight as the thruster will pivot on a slow-speed turn (not talking about paddle turns), but overall, much better. Larger rear fins would make the board stiffer to turn in a tight arc. Smaller rear fins like the Futures QD2 3.75’s make the board like a Japanese shopping cart (all four casters swivel) when at speed and the board is flat, but it turns tighter. 

When I picked up the NP10, I was still on the quad high from the gun, so the first thing I did was put in another set of Futures GL2’s…and it was horrible. So bad, in fact, that I paddled about a km back in to switch it to the GL2 thruster. The board just wouldn’t turn for me. The rub here is that the thruster didn’t make much of a difference. Better, but not by much. Keeping in mind that this board is pretty flat, designed to be a nose rider, and I’m trying to ride it like a 6’ shortboard. Eventually, I learned to surf this board, and it’s now my favorite board (I own 8 boards, and have tried dozens more). The problem wasn’t the fin setup, the problem was me. I had no idea how to surf a long board. At one point, after learning the board, I tried to go “traditional,” and experimented with several different single fin sizes, largest being a 9”, all of these being the standard generic single fin template (Up Surf, etc.).  My first surfboard was a 6’ squash-tail with glassed in single fin, and I’ve owned many single fin boards, but a longboard is new to me. The single fin doesn’t rail turn anywhere near as efficiently as the thruster. If I try to turn it hard on a rail, the fin slips…hard, and the board stalls…hard. Great if you want to pop it around, stall, and run to the nose, but not my thing. The things I found good about the single fin was being able to get up to the nose easier, and glide. The nose stays much higher, with less propensity to pearl when you're up front. I attribute this to less lift in the tail than the multi-fin setups. Still completely possible to get on the nose with the thruster, just not nearly as easy. On small waves, the drag feels way down, so the glide is up. Goes straighter and faster when paddling. Not sure why I left this board a thruster for so long without trying quad (until today), but that’s what happened.

Enter the Blue Planet Pocket Knife. 8’8”x29”x116L. Set up as a thruster with GL2 fins, center fin all the way back, the board will wrap up a cut back in such a tight circle, it blew my mind. Hold was there, turning circle is there. Tail of the board is completely different than the Ninja Warrior. It’s a squash, and more of a traditional shortboard thruster look. I've not tried this board in a quad, but it convinced me that I must be doing something wrong in the Ninja thruster setup because "quads are all bad" and I'll prove it...  Wrong. I go back and forth with the setup, but the Ninja works better as a quad. Period. Soon I'll try the Knife as a quad.

Behind the scenes, I queried a couple of Zone members on their thoughts about the quad on SUP, and decided to give the NP10 another go at it this morning. Again, the board was magic. I have learned how to surf the board, and with the quad in place, it was doing things it could never do as a thruster. Being a longboard, slipping out on a cut back was never an issue as a thruster. The tail and fin set are 1.5” narrower than the Warrior, which probably helps a bit, I don't surf it in nearly as powerful surf, but the board will never turn like something more shortboard-ish, anyway. First difference I noticed was that as soon as the outside rail lifted to turn, the acceleration was much quicker. Almost banana-peeled off the back on the first drop in. The wave I was on goes into a deep section after the bottom turn and about one good cut back. You have to work to keep it in the wave, where it will reform on the inside, and if you make the reform, it can be hard to gain enough speed to get over the next section that will break in front of you. For the quad, this was no issue. The instant speed generation entering the reform was right there, and the section was easily makeable. I’ve surfed this wave loads on the NP10, and it’s never been so easy, not even with a single fin. It was unbelievable. I could feel no degradation in turning circle with the quad.

Paddling either board in a straight line feels like it tracks better as a thruster. Quad wants to swing side to side more. However, inline speed and drag feel the same to me. Ease of catching the wave feels the same.



These have been my observations. Comparing shortboard fin setups to SUP fin setups feels like apples and oranges. The side fin leading edge spread on the Tokoro shortboard is 12”, where it’s somewhere around 15.5” on the NP10, and 17” on the Warrior. When up on a rail, I think there’s not as much fin in the water on the SUP, which goes to making the board unstable as a thruster (slips) compared to a shortboard thruster. As a quad, with the wider tail and fins, the leading and trailing on one side are acting more like closer-grouped shortboard thruster than trying to compare it with a shortboard quad, with the exception of both fins pointing in the same general direction, making for less drag. Of course, the slip over that of the quad may be desirable for some, and of course, different SUP board and fin templates will work better or worse, depending on the desires of the rider. But I think this is a good “this did that” set of information, that hopefully will help someone else who is digging for info. And of course it’s not a closed case for me. All I do now is surf and think about surfing. I welcome all thoughts and am open to trying the new and different.

Cheers. 

Dwight (DW)

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Re: My Single Thruster Quad Battle
« Reply #1 on: July 23, 2019, 03:36:12 AM »
I think you’re spot on. I went through the same when developing my boards and came to the same conclusions.

The advantage I had, was dialing in the quad fin placement, and then having Rainbow Fins produce a custom sized quad set for me. This allowed me to avoid the huge, so called speciality SUP quad sets being sold. I got more speed, with high grip, plus snappy turns. But don’t contact me....I don’t do those boards anymore. If it doesn’t have a foil under it, I don’t do it.  :D

surfinJ

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Re: My Single Thruster Quad Battle
« Reply #2 on: July 23, 2019, 07:04:08 AM »
My first 3 boards and first custom were shaped by Blane Chambers PSH.  They all came with quads that he had shaped.
My custom 8' from Pat Rawson only has quad boxes.

In my previous life as a prone surfer it was thrusters or singles.
On the sup the quad looks better to me on the big tails and my trusted shapers recommend them. 
Surfing them feels very positive when pushed and loose in a rail to rail way.

Longboards are mostly quad but I like to swap out for singles too.

My gun is conservatively finned with a 8" single and small sidebites.
I'm sure quads would work, but I keep the board finned for the days I'm puckering.
Don't need loose and surfy.
« Last Edit: July 23, 2019, 07:06:21 AM by surfinJ »

Dusk Patrol

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Re: My Single Thruster Quad Battle
« Reply #3 on: July 23, 2019, 10:35:56 AM »
...But I think this is a good “this did that” set of information, that hopefully will help someone else who is digging for info.

Cool that you took the time to share your results. I surf a JL World Wide with stock JL quads and a Blue Planet Fun Stick w/ thrusters and notice a difference, sure, but I'm not good enough (yet :) to appreciate the fine points, so love reporting like yours. 
Bullet V2; RS 14x26; New Deal 9'6; BluePlanet 9'4

JEG

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Re: My Single Thruster Quad Battle
« Reply #4 on: July 23, 2019, 04:32:50 PM »
good feedback OkiWild
also, try the 5 fin setup 5th fin as a nubster or toothpick etc.

OkiWild

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Re: My Single Thruster Quad Battle
« Reply #5 on: July 23, 2019, 08:50:14 PM »
good feedback OkiWild
also, try the 5 fin setup 5th fin as a nubster or toothpick etc.

Thanks. I did consider a nubster for the Ninja in faster, heavier waves, as when the board first catches and accelerates, flat on plane, the tail wants to wobble (Japanese shopping cart reference). Skates around as the left and right fin set fight it out. I've heard lots of people complain about this one aspect of the quad, even big wave surfers. When I started testing the diffusers on the tail for Mink Systems, the skatey feeling completely disappeared. The four small fins on the tail are probably doing the same thing as the nubster, just enough to keep the tail from fighting left-right.

 

nalu-sup

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Re: My Single Thruster Quad Battle
« Reply #6 on: July 25, 2019, 03:13:54 PM »
Okiwild, thanks for the great report. At this point, each one of my boards is set up slightly differently to get closest to what I want.
9' Tabou- 4.75 sides and 4.5 center, no quad option. This is my board for extremely rough water, so stability is a priority.
8'10" Sunova Speeed- 4.75 3D sides, and 3.75 center, no quad option.
8'8" Blue Planet All Good- 5.16 Colin McPhillips sides, and 5" cutaway all the way forward in the box.
8'7" Sunova Flow- Custom quad set that I shaped. 5" fronts with good base chord, and 4.5" rears with very little chord or rake
I will try to attach pictures of the quads I shaped, along with the fins I bought to shape from, since they had massive area to start from. My end product looks fairly similar to what you settled on.
8'7" Sunova Flow  121 L
8'8" Blue Planet 'All Good' 120 L
9'0" Tabou SupaSurf  145 L
16' S.I.C. F16 downwinder 323 L

FRP

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Re: My Single Thruster Quad Battle
« Reply #7 on: July 25, 2019, 07:03:58 PM »
Okiwild, thanks for the great report. At this point, each one of my boards is set up slightly differently to get closest to what I want.
9' Tabou- 4.75 sides and 4.5 center, no quad option. This is my board for extremely rough water, so stability is a priority.
8'10" Sunova Speeed- 4.75 3D sides, and 3.75 center, no quad option.
8'8" Blue Planet All Good- 5.16 Colin McPhillips sides, and 5" cutaway all the way forward in the box.
8'7" Sunova Flow- Custom quad set that I shaped. 5" fronts with good base chord, and 4.5" rears with very little chord or rake
I will try to attach pictures of the quads I shaped, along with the fins I bought to shape from, since they had massive area to start from. My end product looks fairly similar to what you settled on.

Nalu

Very fine work on reshaping the fins for your Flow. Your Speeed also seems well finned. I was out this morning in fairly choppy conditions and head high soft rollers on the same sized Speeed. I have it finned with medium CDrive copy side fins and a small CDrive copy rear fin. I am so far very impressed with the speed, stability and maneuverability of this board with this fin setup. It has taken my confidence and ability up another step. On the outside there was only a long boarder and myself picking up any of the bigger set waves. I suspect that with a medium Center fin the board would be a bit too stiff to turn as well. I have some Cdrives coming in August and it will be interesting to see how they compare to the knockoffs.

Cheers

Bob
« Last Edit: July 25, 2019, 07:57:45 PM by FRP »
Sunova 8'10" Speeed
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