In partnership with FCS
Buying a fresh set of fins can be a bit of a minefield. Do you need more speed? Drive? Hold? Do you want any of that? Large, medium, small fins – there's a whole load of diverse information to digest and, sometimes, that can be overwhelming.
Well, we wanted to crack the mystery wide open by throwing four sets of different FCS fins under the feet of Sam Lamiroy, to really tease out what makes them tick. And you can find just that in the video above. But scroll down after viewing for a bit more in depth coverage.
FCS Mick Fanning signature series in neo carbon, large.
FCS Julian Wilson signature series, Aircore, medium.
FCS Performer in performance core, large.
FCS Reactor in performance core, medium.
Ability: Has 10 UK titles under his belt.
Froth factor: Blipping off the limiter, all day.
Hooo-eeee this is a weapon. Those fine gents over at Fourth Surfboards whipped us up a fresh brace of classic performance boards suited for typical Cornish waves. We only used one for the duration, mind. The model in question is a slightly tweaked 'Five Nine' in Fourth's Base Construction and the dims are 6'0.5 x 19 7/16ths x 2.5 30.5 litres. Sam relayed his needs to head shaper Luke Hart (arguably the UK's greatest craftsman) who set about constructing these gorgeous-looking hunks.
You're probably a bit like us when it comes to fins; find that one set of pure magic which just works under foot and stick with it come hell or high water. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that – but the ultimate takeaway from this shoot is; with each set of fins, the board felt completely different. Not by a marginal amount, each set drastically changed the way Sam would surf.
For instance, the Mick Fanning neo carbon set provided so much hold, which would be better suited for when you need to race down the line or at a point break. The Reactor and Performer are designed for more top-to-bottom surfing, giving you more release while maintaining control. In the case of the average surfer, it's these types of subtle differences that can help up your game and it's probably something you've never thought about mixing up. What this basically means is, if you're willing to experiment and throw whim to fancy, then you've got yourself four boards in one foam package.
To make this a fair test we needed all the variables in place. We wanted a decent swell, something representative of traditional Euro waves – which means a bit of wonk going on, some funk, that classic grunt at size and the odd whackable section or three.
We thought; what's the point in going to Indo or Mexico or anywhere else, when the majority of us are going to spend our time pulling into those sorts of rough and ready conditions at the local?
So we scoured the charts again and again before finally making the call - and we got it how we wanted it. The day in question was a few weeks back at a remote, swell sucking Cornish corner – notorious for slapping you with a £100 parking fine, if you're not careful (we weren't...)
If you want the TL;DR version, that's above in the film. We spent 13 hours shooting in a sticky bake of a day but below are some snippets of Sam's takeaway from each set of fins.
Mick Fanning Neo Carbon
"It's got more flex than a 100 per cent fibre glass fin," Sam says, straight out of the water. "But, it's still pretty stiff. It feels nice, solid, I would trust it in big waves in point breaks, this may be my go to for those conditions. Found it a little tricky to release the tail, but that's all part of what makes this fin great – because it glues you to the wave. Driving through the rail, it felt good."
Julian Wilson Aircore
"This is the stiffest fin we tested. This is a very raked fin with lots of drive and it feels positive with the Aircore. It's got quite a wide base, set a little bit back in the tab. The moment you load it, it goes. This is a serious fin for serious surfing. This is definitely the fin for those who want a bit more performance built in, some more spring packed in."
Reactor Performance Core (PC)
"I love this fin. This was a surprise for me, out of all the ones we tested. It made the board much more lively, especially in junky waves. It allowed me to put the board exactly where I wanted to. I remember Al Byrne once said to me, 'fins need to get you on the rail'. So it's less about driving and how they set you up. These fins allow you to turn in a tighter arch, get you on rail and allow you to really surf. These really allow you to do that. A very good fin."
Performer Performance Core (PC)
"The big thing for me, this is like coming home. It's similar to what I surf all the time. It has drive. This, you can stab it in, put the board straight up and it'll hold you with confidence. If you surf top to bottom, this is the go to you need for day-to-day surfing. It just feels great when you're on rail. Can't praise these highly enough."
And now, something extra for you
Over the next few weeks, we'll be giving away all the sets of fins featured in the above edit. They're a little sandy, they've been opened, of course and used, but hey, it's better value than getting 'only surfed once *wink *wink' fins from a guy called Colin on Facebook marketplace. Keep an eye out for the competition dropping soon and thanks for tuning in.