The resurgence of the humble twinnie has been nothing short of meteoric. Suddenly, lineups across the globe have been inundated with the groove-laden wave machines, and that isn't a bad thing.
Just ask Josh Kerr, for example. And when you're done looking at how that legend wrangles loose foam under feet, take a peep at Mikey February next – and, my word, you'll be glad you did.
Or, even better yet, ask his shaper, Britt Merrick, who developed this whippy lil' number called the Twin Pin in collab with Sir February – well, it was more developing it via Zoom calls while Mikey was in South Africa's lockdown. And isn't that just emblematic of the past few years?
“I think in recent years a lot of good surfers like Mikey February, Asher Pacey and Josh Kerr have committed to riding twin-fins in all sorts of different conditions,” says Britt.
“That’s forcing shapers to come up with better twin-fins that work across a broader range of waves, and designs that can stand up to the test of high-level surfers like that. It’s the same with all design trends we’ve experienced — we take a close look at them, confront their limitations and then address them. It’s always surfer-driven. And I think some designers are responding quickly to this challenge and making better twin-fins as a result.”
What does Michael February bring to the table as a team rider?
BM: Personality is so important in surfing. And sometimes the mindset needed to win events can challenge personal expression and creativity — with both your surfing and your board design. With Mikey no longer being involved in competition, he has the broad freedom to express who he is. That not only comes across through the way he surfs, but the boards he’s choosing to ride — which let him approach waves differently than if he were strictly focused on perfecting his performance shortboard surfing for competition. Having access to someone like that is super helpful for designing and building boards.
Is he finicky? Does he provide solid feedback?
He’s really into surfboards and he’s very design-orientated. Mikey shapes a bit himself, and he’s curious about design. That’s why he experiments with a lot of non-conventional boards, taking into consideration their historical development and then applying what he’s learned to the modern stuff we’re working on together.
He’s not finicky, but he definitely has a point of view. Mikey doesn’t immediately write something off, like some others who’ll give a board half a ride and know it’s not the one. He’ll give a new board some time, and he’s willing to do the work to figure things out, like, how a board wants to be approached, as opposed to forcing it to be something it’s not.
Because he’s performed at that elite World Tour level, Mikey understands what’s required of a competition shortboard. It’s fun to work with someone with an intimate knowledge of that realm of boards who can then incorporate some of those features into alternative-type shapes. Mikey really looks at how a board can ride better. That’s so valuable and inspiring for me as a designer. And when you have a surfer like him being involved in creating something fresh, it makes the whole process a lot more fun.
How did the Twin Pin come about?
Mikey wanted a twin-fin that had more hold than your normal twin, and that moved us more toward the high-performance realm. That was his basic ask, and that he wanted it to be a round-pin. He then left the rocker and bottom up to me to solve. I felt that we should have no trailer fin — purely a twin.
We wanted a two-fin design that was so good you’d never wish you had a third fin. So, we got to work on building a board to bridge that gap between a classic, cruisey twin-fin and a high-performance board. The personal challenge for me was working to solve that issue of a lack of hold through turns, which twins have historically suffered from.
How did you solve that riddle of building a twin-fin without the crutch of a trailer fin?
It was a bit of a journey. We did have a great jumping-off point, because my dad made some amazing twin-fins in the late ’70s right up until Simon’s thruster came out a few years later. Some of Tom Curren’s best memories of boards my dad built him were on those twin-fins.
In 1978 Shaun Tomson brought my dad a Mark Richards shape, and they made some of their own refinements to push the design benefits even further. So we have that in our DNA. When doing Mikey’s board, we took some elements from those ’80s boards that we’d again revisited a few years ago with the CI Twin.
I started with some concaves in the early versions of Mikey’s boards, and they worked well but it wasn’t quite hitting. Around that same time, Tom Curren asked me to make him some twins inspired by the ones my dad made him almost 40 years ago. He stressed the need for vee bottoms and no concaves at all. Those boards worked well (see the film “Free Scrubber”), so I thought we should try some of those bottoms and rockers with Mikey’s model. And it really took the board to the next level we were searching for.
There was way more hold. Mikey and I are working on this new board, and in parallel, we have a different project going with Tom Curren, and the work we did with him gets infused into our Twin Pin project. Such a rad connection there.
So, in these YouTube videos where we see Mikey riding perfect Indo, is that the kind of surf you had in mind when you made the Twin Pin?
He wanted an all-arounder, an everyday board. Now, when you look at the outline it’s not going to say small-wave groveler. It’s got a pulled-in tail. If we had a wide tail, then we couldn’t surf it in good waves like you see in those videos, so we found some balance in the outline to keep it versatile for average to good surf.
You can ride it in smaller stuff, but we wanted to make sure it’s an all-arounder for most waves we encounter on the average days; and at the same time, be ready to go when the waves are really good, which is something lacking in most twins. Obviously, on really small days it’s not going to have the instant get-up-and-go of a wide swallowtail with a concave bottom, like a FishBeard or something more grovelly. It’s just not that type of board.
Again, the idea was to move more toward a thruster feel, but keep that freedom and speed, so the Twin Pin has a more solid feeling. In small waves you’ve gotta first get it up on a plane and then you can start to push hard and get that thruster feeling. But then it’s also going to have all those high-line vibes and flowy things that a twin does, just with way more hold.
How does the pintail itself play into the overall design? Is it merely cosmetic or is that exactly what makes this board perform well in solid surf?
The tail for the Twin Pin was intentional. The idea was to decrease surface area. Anytime you increase surface area, you’re increasing lift. Anytime you decrease it, you’re reducing lift.
That’s why small-wave boards have more width in all areas of the template: the possibility for speed when it’s not instantly on tap. Big-wave boards go narrower, especially in the tail, because you want to scrub speed. You want the board to sit down in the water and be more neutral, providing you a more solid feel and not too slidey or sketchy when pushing hard through the turns. We tried a lot of tail templates, and this one we landed on was the sweet spot.
What are your sizing recommendations? Should the customer order it smaller, thicker and wider than their normal shortboard?
On average we’re saying two to three inches under your normal shortboard size if you want it for sorta-whatever waves. If you’re looking to ride this in good, head-high to overhead-plus surf we recommend you order it the same length as your normal shortboard or even longer. Mikey rides his a couple different ways: sometimes three to four inches shorter than his shortboard.
When he does that, it’s roughly half an inch wider. Other times he’ll ride it the same length as his shortboard for good, bigger surf, but an eighth to a quarter of an inch narrower than his shortboard
When he does that, it’s roughly half an inch wider. Other times he’ll ride it the same length as his shortboard for good, bigger surf, but an eighth to a quarter of an inch narrower than his shortboard. For reference, that 5’8” he’s riding in Indo is 19 1/2” wide and 2 5/8” thick. When he goes with the longer 6’0” he tweaks his to be 18 3/4” wide and 2 5/8” thick. That’s what he was riding in some of that really good J-Bay footage in his “Sonic Souvenirs” film. If he’s in smaller waves he’s going shorter and wider. But if he wants to ride his Twin Pin in really solid surf he’ll go longer and narrower, just a straighter outline creating more hold — more of a step-up vibe.
How did the BMT fin come about? Did you tweak that off another fin design or was it made strictly for this board?
When Mikey and I started working on this board, the FishBeard was in the forefront of what we were all riding at the time. We’d developed a keel fin for the FishBeard, which is our AMK. What we quickly found was that on a narrower tail, the AMK sometimes had too much fin — good if the waves are solid, but usually too much in this board.
Then we tried more classic, upright twin templates, but those felt too loose. You couldn’t push as hard as you wanted and they didn’t have as much drive, so that defeated the purpose of this board. To solve these challenges, we worked on several versions of an all-new template that’s right between an upright and a keel. What we now call the BMT (Britt Merrick Twin) is the right fin for the Twin Pin. We’ve learned that it’s working well on other designs, too, like the CI Mid and other twin-fin projects we have in the works.
Why are twin-fins so popular nowadays? They seem to be trending now like the round-nose fishes were in the late ’90s. Fads come and go, but everyone seems to want one of these.
If you think about it, twin-fins were only around for a few years in the late ’70s and early ’80s, so the exploration we could’ve done was pretty limited as the tri-fin quickly overshadowed and replaced it. The twin went away for a long time, and the tri-fin was followed up by decades of refinement — we’re still refining those thruster designs 40 years later.
What we agree on is the unique and rad feel you get from twins that you simply can’t when there are more fins on the board. Even though it has those hold limitations, there’s enough magic there that got our attention to dig deeper and see if we can keep that twin-fin feel but push the performance and hold. That’s where all the fun and buzz is for the people ordering them from us.
So, you have these high-level surfers that are willing to work with their shapers to push and evolve twins to a place we never really had the time to do, because we were chasing that perfect thruster for our surfers to win championships on. We learn so much from surfers like Mikey and we’re having a lot of fun creating designs like the Twin Pin and getting amazing results. And while we’re really happy with this new board and super proud of the ride it offers, we know we can keep improving on these twins for years to come.