The fin. The skeg. The bottom knife. Whatever you call it, they are the pointy things under a surfboard that help you hold a line. But what happens when you break on or lose one? Can you still surf?
Yes, even if you lose all your fins or break them you can still surf. Many people enjoy surfing finless and do it for fun. That being said I would not recommend continuing surfing if you have just lost or damaged a fin. That is because your board is most likely damaged in some way and could take on water.
So we’ve learned you can surf with missing fins, but you probably shouldn’t surf with a broken fin. Playing around with your fins and different styles is fun. But a broken fin box can cause some issues for sure. Or if you have glass on fins and those break, some real trouble could lie ahead…
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Can you Surf with a Broken Fin?
Well yes you can. Technically can that is. The issue lies more in the well being of your board and not necessarily in the ability.
If a fin breaks ninety percent of the time the fin box breaks in some way too. The fin box is the slots on the bottom of the tail where you can snap fins in and out of.
When a fin is aggressively ripped out, let’s say by a rock or something it normally tears the fin box open as well.
If there’s a ding in your board anywhere – you don’t want to surf and risk your foam core filling with water.
So let’s draw up a hypothetical. You’re surfing. Pumping swell. Amazing shallow reef break. You stack it and blow a fin. Could you keep surfing? Yes, you could, your board would still work. It wouldn’t ride exactly the same or as good… but it works. Would most people keep surfing? No probably not.
There are a few main ways to break a fin. The main one being rocks or reefs. Hard things tend to break fins most.
This will generally happen getting in or out of the water. Sometimes in shallow areas when you are going in or out of the water your fins will hit a rock or some reef and can break. So in shallow rocky areas, lots of people flip their boards upside when entering and exiting the water to prevent this from happening.
Another way to break fins is anger. Many people can get angry out in the water. For a plethora of different reasons really. Sometimes people express this anger by ripping their fins straight out their boards. One way to combat this phenomenon is to always try to keep a level head and do some meditation before paddling out.
So remember if you break a fin it’s probably best to call it a day and get your board fixed asap.
Can you Surf with a Missing Fin?
Yes, you can surf with a missing fin or missing fins. The main question is how the fin became missing? Did you forget one or all of your fins? Did someone steal one? As long as the fin box is still intact and you don’t have any ding situation on your hands then you’re good to go.
Lots of people surf finless on purpose. Just for fun or to try something new. So it’s completely up to you and what you’re looking for. It will be very different surfing with no fins compared to what you’re used to. Without the fins to hold the board in place in the water it will slip, slide and glide all over the place.
Let’s talk about twinnies and single fins. Twin fins being 2 fins on the side with no middle fin, and single fins being the reverse, one single fin in the middle and no fins on the side.
If you went for a surf and forgot a fin, maybe because you were swapping boards or taking your fins out for storage, whatever the reason, it might actually be pretty fun to set up as twinnie and see how she goes. The less fins you have the more loose and slidy your board will be.
Can you Replace a Broken Fin Box?
Breaking a fin box sucks, but it’s not the end of the world. Replacing a fin box is as easy as going to your local surf shop that offers ding repair.
The ding repair technician will start by completely removing your old fin box. He does this by cutting/digging it out. Once the old fin box is removed he will sand the existing area smooth. If necessary he will add more foam to hold the new fin box in place.
Next, he will add in the new fin box. He will glass it over with new fiberglass to hold it in place. After the fiberglass sets you are good to go daddio. If your the hands-on type, then check out the Youtube video below on how to do it yourself.
Obviously you’ll have to buy a new fin as well, unless you found the old one or it only partially came out during your accident. There will be many different fin options. From stiff to soft, to large to small. Depending on what sort of performance you want, it’s up to you. This paragraph segways nicely into our next subject.
Choosing New Fins
There will be many optioins to choose from but i will break it down inot 3 main criteria:
Size: Yes fins come in differnt sizes. The larger your fins the harder your board will be to turn. The smaller your fins the easier your board will be to turn. Size sometimes depends on rider weight so check the packaging and pick the size that works with your weight.
Flex: This is how soft or stiff you want your fins to be. Softer fins have more give and play while stiffs can hold a line and drive better.
Brand: There are many different brands to choose from. Play around with a few and see what works best for you.
Check out the video below for a more in depth guide on surfboard fins,
Finless boards have become more and more popular over the past few years. A finless board is specifically made to be surfed with no fins. No fin boxes and obviously no glass on fins. They instead have small channels or grooves on the bottom of the board.
Pros: Can spin in any direction you like. Can frontside or backside turn on a right or a left regardless of stance. Can do that awesome trick where you’re going frontside then do kind of a backside turn and it looks like you’re front boarding the whole wave. Feels really awesome when you get the board in the right spot and it just wants to go.
Cons: Much more difficult than traditional surfing. Can’t throw buckets. Can’t drive and generate speed as well. More out of control.