FUP – fin options

LOGO_MULTYSYSTEMWith an unknown design like “the FUP”, I figured as many fin options as possible is best. But, the issue, or question is “what positions”?

So, to start, it has to have thruster option, so I went and checked what I’ve been using against the McKee M5.

I’ve had my centre at 3 3/4, sides at 11 3/8 (with 1/4 toe in)

Looking at the McKee formula for the 6’3″ and 6’6″ (i.e. the FUP is 6’5″):

Centre – 3 3/8 (for the 6’3″) and 3 7/16 (for the 6’6″) … mine at 3 12/16

Sides – 11 1/16 (for the 6’3″) and 11 5/16 (for the 6’6″) … mine at 11 6/16

So, I figured I will stick with my centre fin position (i.e. one less variable), and it was more the “quad” linkage I was chasing so the centre fin for Thruster should be OK.

For the sides, with only 1/16″ difference, and planning to use Gearbox fin system, I will have fore and aft movement, so can tweak once in use. Cool.

Now, the “quad” option and the rear fins … McKee has them at:

5 3/16 for he 6’3″ and 5 5/16 for the 6’6″ … so, only 2 /16 or 1/8 between the two, which again, can be adjusted with fore and aft movement by using Gearbox

So, I’ve decided to place them at 5 5/16.

Now, the issue of “Toe-In” … Mckee has his layout guide, which uses the “measure x off the nose” method … which I do not use. So, a bit of time on swaylocks has been thinking if the fronts finsa are going to be 1/4 toe in, then the rears can go in at 1/8″ toe in … this seemed to be common option.

So, that’s it done, right?

Nope. Next issue is fin cant …

Again, looking at the McKee layout guide, he uses 92.5 for the back and 96 for the front, measured off the horizontal.

I have been using between 96 and 98 for my sides on thrusters, and feel 7 is about ideal. So am going to stick with that … which, then means, the rear quads need to be less, so using the mckee layout and research on swayslocks, I’ve decided to go 4 for the rear quads.

Now, I should also mention the “other school” of thought with quad fin placement being more “rail centric” … and using say 1 1/18 off the rail for all fins. I’ve decided to use the mckee “width between rear fins” method, because I am a traditional thruster surfer, and my research seems to indicate the mckee layout suits that transition better. The front fins will be 1 1/18 off the rail though. So, after all that thought process, whether good or bad, the final details I’m going to use are:

Front Fins – 1 1/8 off rail, 11 3/8 from tail with 1/4 toe and 7.5 cant

Rear Fins – 5 3/4 between, 5 5/16 from tail with 1/8 toe and 4 cant

Centre – 3 3/8 from the tail (but, thinking about using a fin box for more options!)




FUP Update

After I posted yesterday (i.e. re: “the FUP”), I decided to seek input from as many people as possible. So, I posted on a couple of surfboard design and construction forums, namely sanded and swaylocks; you can see the ‘discussion’ about the FUP on those forums here and here. I also shared a link via my facebook and twitter accounts with a few comments being received overnight (thanks crouch, JJ & digger) 😉

With a cool night and noise already in our neighbourhood (happy new year everyone!), I decided to get a ‘feel’ for “the FUP”, and well, one thing lead to another and by the time 2015 came around I was covered in foam dust and had hit the wall. I did manage to run a tape measure, layout square and calipers over it, and found out she is actually:

Length – 6’5″


@ centre – 18 3/4

1′ off nose – 11 3/4

1′ off tail – 14

Thickness – 2 5/8


Nose – 4 3/4

1′ off nose – 1 9/16

2′ off nose – 6/16

2′ off tail – 1/4

1′ off tail – 3/4

Tail – 2 5/16

So, here’s a couple of video clips I shot this morning which might help to show the “flow” of the concave depth and current status of the blank:

Here are some progress shots too:


the FUP - deck side outline (316x1024)

FOIL – deck up:

the FUP - deck up foil (1024x175)

FOIL – bottom up:

the FUP - bottom up foil (1024x170)

And, a few others while she was laying in the stands:

the FUP - side 3 (768x1024) the FUP - side 2(1024x768) the FUP - side (1024x 768)

RIDE REPORT – my predictions

So, now having handled the blank, and “scrubbed” it to an almost finished state, I have a few thoughts about how it may go …

1. The deep double has the rails at an acute angle, which I suspect will give “bite” but also instability; could ‘catch’ quite easily especially in bottom turns.

2. Down the line speed, at potentially the expense of handing with it tending to “track” … but, it could be a good hollow wave board due to the rail bite and straight through water flow.

3. An uncertainty in handling with the ‘tri hull’ created by the rails (as outside hulls) and the stringer … bit like a tri hull catamaran. While it “should” be stable, I think what is likely to happen is the water flowing at angles across the bottom will became turbulent, especially as the water crosses over the stringer section. When on full rail, it won’t impact, but as the board comes back to a more level point, it will “catch” and bog, which will create a point from rail to rail that is unstable or unpredictable.

4. It will not like fat, flat or mushy waves … will need some shape (i.e. curve) in the face of the wave to engage the rails and that acute angle from the deep double.

5. Will need fin options to fine tune it, so am thinking to put in a small single fin box (for maximum adjustment fore and aft) plus option of a larger back fin, with a mckee 5 fin system layout for the other 4 fins, so it can be ridden as both a quad and thruster. Might be cool to try with a big single and some side bites 🙂

OK, that’s my take. What do YOU think?

Fin Cant – the hidden gem?

fin cant OK, so I’ve been playing with fin cant, you know, how much your side fins “lay over” to the rail. Anyway, this whole surfboard design process is proving to be both mind blowing and a total mind fuck; all at the same time!

I started this journey because I wanted to push some crazy idea’s I’ve had from years of surfing. So, using AKU Shaper I have a “base design” that I can duplicate with accuracy, and then I can tweak certain elements of the design to feel for myself what each design element change makes to the performance of the board. What I have found is that the fin cant is a hidden gem … let me explain.

Looking over some old boards, boards I have bought from various shapers over the years I noticed some interesting common elements. Least of which was rocker, and now so too fin cant … all the boards I’ve kept, which are the boards I liked and surfed to their death, have more fin cant than the normal 6 degrees. Yep, all of them! What’s more, boards that I’d had just before starting this journey, all with the standard 6 degree fin cant are OK, but by no means great. The last great board has 7.5% of fin cant …

So, I’ve been using more fin cant on a few boards, and with the ability to adjust it since I have been using the Probox Fin System, I’ve been able to get a great sense of what impact it has …more fin cant, a way more free feeling, easier to turn, but a feeling is less drive. Less fin cant, drive, yes, but at the detriment of the turning easy.  With the last board I’ve made, I’ve pushed the outer limits of the fin cant and have struggled with a totally different sensation; sort of like not getting much drive from the board, but with a different angle of attach to the wave at the same time. Playing with different fins has proven what I thought … more fin cant and bigger fins are a match made in heaven.

And, then BINGO, it dawned on me what I was feeling, what this weird sensation was … it was like I was surfing a quad. The same almost stalled response when wanting to drive, but the smooth hold the turn all the way around with ease feeling. And the angle of attack, except more vertical than the recent quads I’ve ridden … a totally different sensation and one that I’m having fun figuring out!

I actually, as much as I hate to admit it, I actually do not think I have the athletic ability to get the maximum out of this set up! After all, I’ve just turned 43, and while the brain wants to, the body does not seem up to where and what I want to do on a wave sometimes … I’m talking about a board that wants to go vertical and then easily burst around off the top, or, just as simply, go free and loose with fins drifting and then biting back to bring the board under me …

I can only think how many surfer are getting boards “off the racks” with standard fin cant and are missing the performance sensation.

Hell I love this process. But, it is frustrating until you get the combination right. Hasn’t help that I have not been surfing as much due to health issues, but, that’s another story …

I’m off for a surf!

Evolution of surfboard design

surfers_evolutionSo, the latest evolution in the FFW Surfboards design process is curing … damn, don’t ya just hate the waiting to cure process!

Anyway, while the surf is not doing much around here today, I thought I would look back at the evolution of the design process for this ‘all rounder’.

It all started with the ‘forty one’ … why that name? Simple. I made it for my 41st birthday.

Then, it was tweaked, to take some “excess” foam from the front third, and pulled the tail in a bit. This one became known as the ‘forty one’ II … pretty simple naming process!

That design was then tweaked further with the addition of the full concaves into the AKU Shaper design software. Now, if you have not read here already, I can not believe how accurate the software, to cut board, process works. It is amazing, so much so, that with the first two boards, I was tentative with what I saw on the screen against what I thought the cut board would come out like … well, no more, and with this evolution of the ‘all rounder’ which I’ve tagged as the ‘forty one two’ – mkII

Which brings us to this latest incarnation of the ‘all rounder’ … the ‘forty one two’ – mkIII … which has the lower rails, refined concave ‘shape’ and ‘depth’ with a slight reduction in the overall width … but, keeping the volume basically the same as the previous board.

So, what did I learn with each of the design tweaks?

The first board, the ‘forty one’, as I’ve posted on here felt like it had too much foam in the front third and had too much overall volume. It felt too “big” in the front half of the board, and lacked some turning ability which I know was due to the tail, because having pulled that it on the next one, the turning ability dramatically improved. What I also found was in using the design software, adding in concave … yeah, get your head around that first … you add the concave by pulling down the edge of the rail … so, the volume in terms of ‘thickness’ can be reduced when you add in the concave via the design software.

This also, made me realise, that when I did the first board, because it was cut flat, when I hand shaped in the concave I actually flattened the rocker … so, by using the design software and adding in the concave, I ended up with a better rocker. This however, left me with a board that had a funny ‘keel’ under my front foot as I pushed the double under the front foot … only to realise that it could be smoothed by pulling one of the design points, so that now in this latest one, the ‘forty one two’ – mkIII the keel is gone and the shape of the concave has been “smoothed” out …

The current one I’m surfing performs well, in waves that are not flat … it likes a wave with more shape, does not have to be big, but needs to have some shape, otherwise it’s just dead … in small surf, it gets up and goes, actually all of them have, which has been a surprise, but the difference in performance with each is noticeable once the waves get some shape and I can actually ‘surf’ the boards. This last one, likes coming off the bottom and a can fly off the top, when I put the energy into it … if I’m a bit slack, it bogs, but if I can give it the energy and make sure I hit the top turns in the right spots, it comes off the top very nicely. In some running waves during some point surfs last week, it was awesome … I even managed one small little runner that become a bottom turn, sliding, lose fin top turn, slide, back to bottom turn over and over down the line. Fun!

The other aspect with the mkII version, is it’s comfort in tubes … I think I’ve had more green room time on this one board, than any other board I have ever ridden. I seem to get into waves easier (maybe the light weight blank giving it some more zip?) and so can get into waves behind the peak  so I can then tuck under the pitching lip … where, previously, I would get pitched, or have to surf around the breaking section having been caught up in the lip …

So, I’m now waiting for this latest one to cure so I can go surf it!

A record for a custom surfboard?

waitingI hate waiting for a new board.

Don’t get me wrong, I totally understand the process and how time consuming it is … running a surfboard business would be hectic; especially at this time of year. Over the years, on average, for a new custom board I would have easily had a 6 to 8 week arduous wait.

That’s not what has happened with the Forty One Two – MkIV.

I started to make my own, using AKU software to design, then having them machine cut … I finish them and until the last couple was having a dig at glassing. I miss glassing and sanding. I love the smell of resin, and the feeling of sanding. Is it the rubbing that feels so good?

Sorry, side tracked there … where was I, oh, that’s right, I’ve had the last couple glassed.

So, here’s the timeline breakdown …

The AKU file was sent for cutting on Monday 25th November …

I got the cut blank back at the end of the next week, it was ready, but I picked it up on the 6th December …

I finished it over that weekend, and dropped it into the glassing service on Monday 9th December …

I got a text to say it was ready on Monday 16th December …

Yes, that’s correct, from file, to cut blank, to finished board in 3 weeks!

Yes, that’s a custom surfboard in 3 weeks.






That’s it in the pic above …

Now, it’s just the arduous wait while it cures … I hate waiting for boards to cure.

Merry Christmas to me.  First surf on it will be New Years day …


PS: Do you like the new FFW logo?


Fins = confidence to design?

confidenceAs I wrote a while back, I have been trying different fins in the latest evolution of the “Forty One Two”. Now that I’ve found the right fins, I have the confidence to tweak the design. Weird I know!

As you may have read, this latest board has a lot of lift, get up and go, but with that, lacking some control.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m no athlete, or high performance surfer. Rather, your average bloke in his early forties, who is lucky enough to get to surf almost every day. So I am “surf fit” and have some experience, having started surfing just over 30 years ago.

As I wrote previously, I started with Performance Core K2.1’s and then put in some of the Parko JP5 fins.  I ended up deciding to try some AM2 fins, and bought an “after market” copy of what I thought were AM2’s … the first give away should have been the poor fit, with a gap between the base of the fins and the board. I sanded the tabs so it would fit flush, but the base of the fin had a curve, so I had to give the corners near the tabs a sand too …  after surfing the fins for a while I concluded there was something still wrong.

Thinking board issues, I decided to double check the finished dimensions of the board.

Now, that was an eye opener … what it said in AKU Shaper, is within a bees dick of the finished board. I checked the concave shape and depth, both single and double and they were as per the AKU design, and what I had wanted … although, I was starting to think it may have been the depth that was causing the performance issues … more depth, more lift, less control?

Or, maybe outline issues I had not figured out yet.

In the process, I decided to check the fin cant, toe, etc … well the toe was the same as other boards I had, but the fin cant was the shock. I had asked for 6 degree cant (when I had the board glassed) and that’s what I got … BUT, all the other boards that I had liked over the last few years had more, some 8 degree’s, other around 7. Each board having concave, I measured from the stringer across to get a ‘true’ comparison.

Lesson there … check what your riding!

OK, back to the fins.

It was at this stage, I checked the after market AM2 fins against some genuine AM2. They were different, and with that knowledge it filled the gaps with what I was feeling with the board. I had thought the AM2 would add drive, but less than the JP5 fins, and maybe a tad less than the JP5 with K2.1 centre fin combo, but more than all the K2.1’s. Same with the pivot … a mid way solution which was what I needed. What I had found was less drive, like way less, no punch off the bottom and a weird release off the top feeling, like it got “stuck” … I was really starting to doubt my design process.

After comparing the after market AM2 with the genuine AM2, things fell into place. But I still was not getting what I wanted from the board.

So, I went around to see the boys (Tank, Elvis and Foils) at Shapers … As usual they were more than happy to help, well Tank was, the other two were off loafing somewhere as usual. Tank went through a heap of fins and options with me, and after a process of elimination he lent me some Asher Pacey AP02 fins to try …

Whooah, that’s what’s been missing! I used the AP02 sides with a slightly bigger ‘nuke’ back fin … very nice, and just what was missing.

First wave, punched off the bottom, vertical, and off the top with pace. I was not ready for it. Over the session, I found the combination was great and all the ‘issues’ seemed to dissolve. Cutbacks had speed to burn coming out of them and I did not feel like I had to ‘muscle’ the board to get it around … The AP02, being a tad bigger than K2.1, there was  no lack of control.

So, now having found the right fins, I feel confident that the design is OK. So it’s time to tweak it … look out MkIV is on the way!

I’m keen to hear if anyone is finding fin changes are radically changing the performance of their boards. What fins do you use? How have they changed the performance of your board? How have the changed the way you surf a wave?

Ride Report: float, marbles and fins?

Well, first things first, I’ve gotta say that this self design custom surfboard process is amazing. The precision of the design through to machine cut is brilliant and with that the end result is what I have envisaged … and for $330 for effectively a ‘custom’ quality short board, the economics add to the stoke.

Do you get the impression I’m enjoying this process?

OK, so now the new one has been ridden for the last few weeks. At first paddle it felt like it had less ‘float’ than the last couple of boards. That surprised me, since the volumes are all the same … all around the 30.4 litres. What I’ve concluded is that it is the different blank. This one was cut from a ‘standard’ blank, whereas all the others have been cut from ‘lite’ blanks. After some research, it would seem, and well logically makes sense, that the ‘lite’ blank is less dense and so has more air bubbles, and once glassed, that air is “locked in” … so, with a more dense blank, less air bubbles “locked in”, and so, yes, a ‘standard’ blank has a bit less ‘float’ … my best guess is it is less than a 5% difference, which can be easily incorporated into the “design” in AKU Shaper

Having had a few boards made with a ‘lite’ blank, and now back to a ‘standard’, I have also realised how the pro’s can ride boards with a bit less volume; aside from their superior fitness and paddling … Since most of them ride ‘comp lite’ blanks, which would have even more air “locked in”, the float difference to the average surfers board would be noticeable. The density though, does impact the longevity of the board, as I’ve found over the last few, with this latest one holding up a LOT better.

I set the board up with my usual ‘go to’ fins … FCS K2.1’s in PC. The first few surfs were in OK, but not great waves, and it felt like there was something “off” with the board. I could paddle into waves easily, it would get up and go, but making turns off the bottom and top felt like something was missing, which I was putting down to the waves, and in some part, due to wearing a steamer since it’s cooled down a bit … after getting some awesome waves, and still having the same feeling of having to surf more off the front foot through bottom turns, and then loosing the tail off the top too easily, I decided the issue was that I need some more size in the fins. So, I put in some Parko fins from the Kinetic Racing series; these are quite different in size, rake and even design to the K2.1’s … well, first wave, first surf and whoah … bang, off the bottom, vertical to the lip, whack and I was away … totally different feel having that bit more ‘fin area’ and push from the tail.

I can only image how many boards, back in the old glass on days, I’ve had that were dogs which could have been tweaked with a fin change. I’ve always found fins to change a board, and with so many options these days, the performance tweaks are awesome. Now, I just need to play around with some more fins to fine tune the performance of this one … I’m thinking some AM2’s may be the goods … or, maybe even some Mick Fanning fins from the FCS range …

marblesSo, the marbles … right? … Do you want to know about the marbles?

And, I guess, what the hell do marbles have to do with a ride report, right? Well, I’ll do my best to explain the ‘feel’ and design linkage …

In the process of understanding the feeling with the K2.1 fins in the board, I had started to notice I was getting a lot of speed, but, when it came to turning, I could not control or use that speed easily, so bottom turns were faster, into a top turn that was not as vertical with the timing slightly ‘out’, so I was having a constant adjustment process … I then noticed how the board would just ‘go’ when I got into a wave, and tried surfing along the wave with less turns to feel the board …

It was not until I was heading in one day, dropped to my belly and rode the whitewater to the shore, then I noticed it … the board would easily, like really easily turn from left to right in a rocking motion, like really really noticeable … so, I went back out and caught a few waves and rode the whitewater in until I could understand the feeling and differences depending on where my body weight was … I’d lie further back, then further forward, arm by my side, or out like I was trying to fly … yep, I’m really just a big kid!

Then it hit me, it felt like, when the weight was right, the board was turning like it was running on marbles … like it had all these little marbles or ball bearings under the front to chest area, and so as I would lean into each turn, remember, I’m still only lying down on the board at this stage, it would just float across the marbles and with no resistance it would turn, and keep moving …

So, out the back again, to test the feeling when I stand up … yep, with some weight over the front foot, and a bit of a heel toe movement I could feel this same effect … more, testing with weight to the back foot, and yep, same type of effect, albeit a different feeling through the tail. This then got me thinking about the fin area, and issues with the surfing I’d been doing to that point. Overnight I decided I needed to try some bigger fins, and well, as I wrote above, it really changed the board.

So, what was / is going on here … I think it is the lift from the impact of the the bottom contours and concave(s). Looking at the design of the board, it is a refined version of the one before it, and with the ‘keel’ at the stringer reduced, and the double inside the single concave more refined, the air being trapped under there, and the water flowing across the surface, it is all just simply more efficient. Hence, the boards get up and goes, and why I was getting speed but having trouble using it or controlling it …

Now, I’m off to learn more about it … time for a surf!

Performance vs Wave Quality

confused dudeThinking about the tweaks I’m doing to my next design, and some recent waves / experience with the current board, I’m now at the dilemma of whether I am designing the board for better performance, or whether I should ‘tone it back a bit’ so it handles average waves better. Making my own is giving me this luxury, and issue … using the computer design, machine cut process I know I can produce the board I want (and for the record, I know full well there is no way I could do that mowing the foam myself).

The current board, the forty one two – mkII, as you’ll have read in the ride report has some quirks. The update though, is now that the deck is compressing, the performance is changing, and improving … add in some great waves lately, and it has been a real buzz. Very happy with it …

So, now I’m rethinking how far I push the tweaks.

Do I go for lower rail volume, which will more than likely make it struggle in less quality waves (which is the norm, well 80% of the time anyway), or do I leave them a but “softer” so the board performs better across a selection of waves?

The bottom contour has me also second guessing. The double into deeper double … all inside a single into deeper single, is working … and I’ve worked out how to get rid of the ‘keel’ impact, but keeping the same depth in design. But, again, not sure if I should back off the depth of the double under my front foot a bit, to give it more all round ability?

What’s your take on double under your front foot? What’s it do? Why have it?

Would love to hear any and all thoughts.



PS: How many of you are using the new version of AKU Shaper? I love the way in the new version your current design stays as a shadow, so you can see the impact of your changes without the need to ghost a board. Being able to move the lights up and down in ‘the bay’ is pretty cool too, as is the quality of the image render. $7 per month, so a backyarder … sure, it adds to the cost of the few boards I’d make, but it is pretty neat software, and I think worth the $ (wonder if they’ll give me a discount for this write up?)

Maurice Cole

While doing some research into different designs, and in this case, the vee … as I have said before, I subscribe to a R&D philosophy (i.e. Rip Off and Duplicate) … no sense trying to reinvent the wheel, right?

So, I was looking at old posts on Swaylocks and came accross this thread and in it Maurice Cole, makes this comment:

… I have used shaping machines since the beginning and have over a 1000 programs that are the backbone of my design work … and I could not do any design work without it … I like to blow up a design so I might cut 3″ off tail, change railshape mess with concave etc … I always have a starting point that I can duplicate off the machine, but much prefer to do changes by eye, gut feel, and any recent feedback to fine tune a new design … I would be in the bottom 10 % of actual shaper craftsman … working at Rusty’s in the 90’s and with Pat Rawson and Eric Arakawa in Hawaii made me realise that for me to continue making/designing bds I would need a better tool … the preshaping machine! …

The thing for me is this is why I decided to use the design software and machine cutting … to get a consistent base design from which I could ‘tweak’ my design idea’s … which, as it would seem, is how Maurice has used the technology.

NOTE: If you have landed here by mistake, having searched “Maurice Cole” … you can find his website here: Maurice Cole Surfboards

The ‘forty one’ – AKU file sent for cutting

A major milestone in the evolution of my backyard process today … I’ve sent my first AKU shaper designed board to the machine cutters.

I’m really exciting and nervous at the same time … being the first, I’m not sure how it will turn out, or whether there are any design glitches with my file.

Time will tell.