Collapsing into deep blue slabs over shallow rock just off blindingly white sand beaches that’s part of it. Or, maybe it’s ancient song-lines in the ground left over from indigenous Aborigines vibrating in the earth’s crust that’s part of it. Or, maybe, it’s the meat pies…Whatever it is, there is a certain feral and ingenious creativity that spawns in Western Australia, from the sweetest of Shiraz wines sprouting from the soil, to the Mick-est of Corbett’s towing into terrifying outer bombies,
And now? A faster, drivier, more ingenious surfboard fin. Enter Quobba Fins out of Margaret River, WA, a unique combination of scientific principles and extensive experimentation/testing in West Oz’s plethora of waves. Principally, the unique design in the Quobba “caudal keel technology” which powers and propels the fin, in essence, advancing performance.
Sure, sounds a little complicated, but indeed, the boys are embracing the tech.
"I really like the fins, especially in punchy beach breaks or powerful reef breaks" says big wave hero Kai Lenny. "The base technology makes the fins and my board feel very powerful and I am able to push extremely hard and project forward. The wobble that the board can get from choppy conditions was stabilised from the fin technology.”
“It’s been amazing having the opportunity to test all the Quobba fins," says 'QS warrior Jano Belo. “I’ve been testing them for a couple years now and the drive and hold in the barrel is next-level. It’s like it makes it easier to ride on the foamball, and the hold to do carvings is amazing. I can just push it harder on turns than normal foil fins. Even doing airs, they work so well; it’s like the extra speed helps to fly. The best fins in the game, for sure.”
The 2018 WSL – World Masters Champion Dave Macaulay reckons: “I just used the Quobbas in some proper barrels at home and found out just how amazing they perform. The board just held its line on one sick one when I was sure I’d be bucked so that session left me totally buzzing. I also really enjoy the hold these fins provide through turns so I am happy to report that Quobbas are part of my fin quiver now.”
And in the solid, West Oz stuff? “It’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced under my feet,” says Aussie hellman, Bradley Norris. “Quobba fins have the drive and speed of a quad in big surf -- but you could still put them on rail like a thruster. It’s the perfect balance.”
Check out their testimonials page to see these guys are not alone. There is some amazing feedback from some well known names like Jake Paterson to regular guys who have found improvement in their surfing for the first time in 20 years or so.
It’s actually those very West Oz waves that helped inspire the main-man behind Quobba fins, Glenn Miller, in creating them. Sitting on the rocks wondering how a three-foot ocean swell could form such a powerful six-foot barrel, Glenn started thinking (profoundly) about faster surfboard speed by watching thousands of swells wrap around WA’s long, unique pointbreaks.
Of course Quobba Fins aren’t resigned to Australian waters. They’ve been around, gracing the pits of G-Land, Uluwatu, Padang Padang, Teahupoo and Skeleton Bay to name a few, tested by surfers, kitesurfers, big-wave surfers, tow-in surfers, SUP. And in 2020, they're going to introduce their “Shifter” fin; an in-water, tool-less, adjustable rear fin, fully compatible with existing single and dual tab fin boxes, giving you the ability to shift that rear fin up to 25mm back/forward. Quobba Fins inventor/managing director Glenn Miller gives us the scoop on what else to expect once these futuristic puppies hit the shelves.
MSW: what makes these fins unique?
Glenn Miller: Overall, what we've tried to do is make a fin system that pushes you faster through the water and more drivey out of turns with a lot more hold. We believe we have achieved this. You’ll see the Caudal Keel at the bottom of the fin which creates those improvements. They are almost like a mini hydro-foil. We have been getting amazing feedback from surfers all over the world, from small beachbreak conditions, solid reefbreaks to heaving slabs like the Right where this year Brad Norris has been using them exclusively.
So everyone can use these fins, not just West Oz hellmen?
Yeah, we’ve used pro and semi-pro surfers to give us information on what to do and not to do to make a surfboard go faster, hold better and come out of turns drivier.
Those testimonials have been absolute gold for Quobba and our research department to push a surfboard faster. Heaps of regular surfers are really loving the fins and it seems like the first time in years they have found something that’s helping their performance in the surf. These testimonials have really given us the confidence to push forward rather than just a couple of guys telling us what we want to hear. We’ve also received lots of positive comments from kite-surfers, longboarders and SUPs.
Where did the concept come from?
I started experimenting with fins when I was living up at a surf spot north of Carnarvon (Western Australia) back in the early '80s. They were mostly single-fins back then, but I started playing around trying to make my surfboard go faster. I ended up staying up there for a fair few months and over time since then, I’ve been thinking about it. And over the last 10 years, I started researching a lot more papers available on the Internet from various universities around the world.
I worked out that we need to split water as it runs along the outside of the fin and the base of the fin. Since then I’ve been thinking about how to make a surfboard go faster by the use of fins, and eventually I settled upon creating less drag. The overall fin system has to have less drag and I’ve done that by creating the shape of the bottom of the fin which splits and changes into four vortexes and hence we have more lift, more drive and more speed.
And what’s the deal with the “Shifter” ™ fin?
Yeah, we are close to going into production for our Shifter™ fin, which without a fin key, can move back and forth into four different settings in the water. Say for example you're surfing three-foot Margaret River Main Break (that’s where we all surf down here in Margaret River) and the swell starts to pulse to six-foot sets like it does often.
So within an hour, it might be six-foot with eight-foot bombs, you can just flip your board over away from the lineup and move the rear fin back -- and this helps the board hold in a lot more on bigger waves. Inversely, if the surf is a bit smaller, move the back fin forward and loosen it up a bit. Most people don’t realise that by moving the position of the tail fin, even marginally, just how much it changes the performance of a board. We have had the fixed traditional box and plug settings for so long now, no one really questions their placement, and if they do, previously nothing can be done to change it, but all that is about to be turned on its head.
Have you been able to scientifically prove these fins go faster?
Actually, yes. The University of WA through one of their agencies has been helping us understand how water has moved around our fins and why they are faster and we’ve spent a fair bit of money with a very large computer in Western Australia with the Computational Fluid Dynamics program to show us exactly what’s happening and we’ve compared our fins against regular fins in the market place.
What are Quobba fins made from?
Our current Glass Series fins are made from a new invention made by the Swiss called Metal Replacement Technology. It comprises 50% glass fibre, 40% hi-tensile resins and polymers. It’s somewhere between a metal and a polymer. It behaves like a metal so they have a tremendous strength with a great flex pattern, but basically it is still a polymer.
Quobba are also about to release a really cool carbon/glass and carbon range, in August 2020.
What other feedback have you been getting?
A few guys prefer just using Quobba side fins with a normal rear fin and others, just the Quobba rear fin on its own. We have had a few guys playing around with Quobba Fins up front as part of a quad set-up but like most things in surfing, everyone has their different likes and dislikes.
Quite a few guys have commented, ”Easily the speed of a quad with the manoeuvrability of a Thruster.” The fins are a medium-sized template, but the Caudal Keel gives more hold so they will suit the majority of surfers. We’ve had quite a few bigger guys who normally ride larger fins (especially in smaller waves) comment how surprised they have been how well they held in and their drive.
We are producing medium and large sized fins - The larger fins for bigger guys and this is what the pros are chasing also. They also go great in shorter boards in bigger waves for that extra hold & speed along with wide tail small wave boards for that extra drive. Interestingly, Jake Paterson who’s been testing our Shifter™ rear fin made the comment he can now travel to Indo with 2 boards rather than 6 and surf all wave sizes and conditions.
How come it’s taken so long for us to hear about Quobba Fins?
Like many good inventions, it always seems to take longer and cost more before you can finally get your product to the market place. We’ve endeavoured to patent everything we’ve done, because without doing that, we couldn’t advance like we have. We needed to protect our IP (Intellectual Property) and that’s how we’ve done it. We’ve lodged patents in all of the appropriate places so now it’s time to do some marketing and get everyone on board.
More about Quobba fins, HERE