It doesn’t matter what stand up paddle board you own, whether inflatable or hard board, if you have removable fins (even just the centrally located US Box fin type that often comes with many iSUPs) you have the ability to tweak and alter your SUP‘s feel.
Many reasons exist for doing this. You may want more manoeuvrability if SUP surfing waves for instance. Alternatively, you may prefer a more locked in, straight line feel from your board. If you’re into adventure SUP, as an example, this additional arrow like enhancement may improve your sessions. Tuning your stand up paddle board to reflect a more playful nature may just be an experiment to see what’s what when tweaking fins.
At any level of skill you can start messing about with your fins – there’re no hard and fast rules here. Having slightly more experience though will help you identify the changes you’re making/looking for quicker. Also, if you’re able to compare and contrast between different SUP board designs this’ll arm you with additional knowledge and help broaden your SUP experience out further.
Keeping things simple (for this article) we’ll just talk about middle fin positions. You can get quite techy with SUP fins (toe in, cant, rake and such) – we’ll leave that for another article. So, sticking with the SUP‘s middle fin the following should apply –
Moving the middle fin forwards: this will generally loosen your board up and make it feel more pivotal. Reactivity increases with less foot changes needed (i.e. moving feet back towards the tail) resulting in bigger gains as far as turning’s concerned. A forwards sitting fin will also see reduced efficiency as far as tracking and glide goes, the board yawing from side to side more and requiring additional corrective paddle strokes to keep straight and true.
Moving the middle fin backwards: in this position, you get a more locked in and planted feel with improved efficiency on the straight. Rail to rail manoeuvrability isn’t as noticeable as with the fin set forwards. Although it should be noted when pivot turning a rearwards placed fin can improve stability off the board‘s tail as it’s submerged during your sweep stroke.
In terms of how you decide where’s best for your fin, and what tuning position suits you, incremental changes need to be played with. Small cm alterations will equate to big differences in feel. The more you experiment the more likely you are to find your optimum fin setting.
For those inclined to do more different fin sizes and shapes can also dramatically affect your stand up paddle boarding. And this goes for the side bite fins as well. Messing about with fin settings can be an ongoing task. For the truly invested tweaking and tuning will be a lifelong pursuit of SUP performance.
If you need help with fitting your US Box fin then check out the following post –
Give us a holla if you have any questions regarding fins and tuning.