Figuring Out How Fins Work on Standup Paddleboards (SUP)

Figuring Out How Fins Work on Standup Paddleboards (SUP)


When you first buy a standup paddleboard (SUP) you may not realize everything that you need or that comes with your board, which is why it’s important to buy the best standup paddleboards.

If you purchase a quality board from Hydrus, you don’t have to worry about whether you have all you need.

Once you’re out on the water, you don’t want to start comparing yourself to others or your SUP to theirs.

So you need to be confident you have the best board and the right equipment, which is where Hydrus can help.

How many fins and how they work can be perplexing to beginners and experts alike, but this post points out just why you need one fin for your standup paddleboard.

best standup paddleboard

Understanding How Fins Work

Fins matter when it comes to your paddleboard. Whether you have a solid or inflatable standup paddleboard, you need a fin to function properly.

Fins allow you to track, to move throughout the water, preferably forward, in a fairly straight line. In fact, a paddleboard fin has its own parts, including:

  • Base: The base is the widest part of your fin. The base is responsible for stability, and it impacts your tracking.
  • Tip: The tip, as you might guess is opposite the base and is the smaller end of your fin. Immersed in the water, it, too, will affect your tracking but also impacts your speed.
  • Leading edge: So the front part of your fin (the part that breaks through the water first) is your leading edge. It has an angle to it, referred to as a rake or sweep. The leading edge of your fin impacts your ability to pivot and turn in the water. The angle, the sweep, helps to keep debris like plants from gathering on the leading edge.
  • Trailing edge: The trailing edge, as the name suggests, trails behind and represents the back of your fin, which also affects your turning as well as speed.

For one single fin, that’s a lot of work that needs to get done!

Now that you’re familiar with the anatomy of your fin, you can better understand its purpose.

If you sit in a moving boat and put your arm straight into the water, you create drag.

In fact, you create drag on every side of your arm and in front of your arm, and that drag would slow the boat down.

However, fins are so thin that while they create drag on their sides, the front doesn’t create drag.

This means you can get maneuverability to keep your board tracking in a straight line.

If you had no fin on the bottom of your board, your board would turn haphazardly from side to side, and you would have a difficult to nearly impossible time trying to paddle in a straight line.

The fin, however, allows you to adjust as you paddle, depending on what side you put pressure.

Just be adding a little pressure to either side as you paddle, you can keep your boat from rotating and can keep it on track.

best standup paddleboard

If One Fin Is Good, How Many Should I Use?

The number of fins you should attach to your standup paddleboard depends on a few factors:

  • The type of board you’re using: Touring and racing boards commonly use just a single fin. However, the board you purchase will have certain configuration options, and you can use them depending on how you want to use the board.
  • Your experience level: Beginners typically just want to get on the board, stay on the board, and hopefully paddle through the water a bit. For this reason, a single fin often works best. If you’re new to paddle boarding, you probably want to just go in a straight line for as long as possible, and a single fin can help you do just that. You have no need for complex configurations until you get some more experience.
  • How you plan to use the board: Whether you’re touring, racing, or surfing, how you use the board impacts how many fins you may want to use. Straight easy paddling requires just one fin, but if you’re making a lot of turns and need higher stability, then three fins might be the best fit.

The most common fin setups include:

  • The classic single fin: Most people begin with just a single fin for solid tracking. This single fin allows you to practice basic movements on your board so you can paddle straight. The single fin is popular because so many people use their boards for touring, which doesn’t require sharp, sudden turns or pivots.
  • The three-fin setup: As you gain more experience with balancing and maneuvering your board on flat water, you might decide you’d like more speed or want to try a little surfing. The three-fin setup gives you great maneuverability for quick turns and speed. You’d think more fins create more drag and slow you down, but the center fin out front creates a vacuum and with two side fins, you can channel water to fill that vacuum and thus increase your speed. The side fins also help keep your board slipping side to side in waves and wind.

Regardless of your fin configuration, an inflatable or solid SUP board makes a great investment for your enjoyment and physical fitness.

When you buy a high-quality SUP board from Hydrus, you can be confident that they will take care of your needs and answer your questions so that you know how to use your fins to maximize the fun on your standup paddleboard.

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