by Rob D.
I love riding single fins. But can you learn to love single fins?
’m not sure exactly why or how to explain – I just get such a good feeling from the ride. When I fly down the line on a single fin surfboard, it feels so free and fast underfoot. Single fins are faster than thrusters and smoother, too. Like riding a motorbike with the wind in your hair…
Maybe it’s because, on a single fin, there is more of a connection with the wave? The power required to generate speed is greater versus a thruster. Perhaps the ride is more satisfying because, in some way, you have had to do more to earn a good ride. More effort is required to connect with the flow of the wave, rather than to generate the speed by pumping a few times.
Could it be that the single fins I have surfed have generally had more volume than my normal shortboards and with that extra bulk comes easier wave catching and thus more fun? Maybe I am not making a fair comparison in that respect. The downside of my chunky singles is that I am not game to take them out in even half-decent sized surf. If I do, I know I will get smashed duck diving on the paddle out. Anyway, I should find out soon…my next board will be a new single fin with volume around the levels of my other shortboards.
Single fins are not without drawbacks. I am the first to admit there are times it does not make sense to ride them (e.g., in choppy waves). I would also say there are plenty of single fin boards that look “wrong” (to me) or seem to have fundamental flaws in their designs. By that I mean some appear to be intended for very, very narrow ranges of optimal conditions for use.
But in general, in clean-ish conditions, I get tons more stoke from my few single fin boards than I do from my other favourite boards.
I tried to get a good mate to embrace single fins and to his credit he bought one and had a decent go at riding singles for a few months. But he didn’t seem to “get” it and in the end he sold his single fin board and walked away from single fins scratching his head, unable to reconcile his experience with what I had been telling him.
Heaps of other surfers I know don’t connect well with single fin surfboards either which, in turn, I find hard to reconcile because for me riding them feels so natural and enjoyable.
Can people ‘learn’ to love riding single fins or is the single fin stoke limited to surfers born with some sort of single fin instinct?