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HOME arrow GEAR INSIGHTS arrow FINSIGHTS: Is a Thruster Setup the Missing Link for Your Stand Up Paddle Surfboard?
FINSIGHTS: Is a Thruster Setup the Missing Link for Your Stand Up Paddle Surfboard? PDF Print E-mail
By: Stand Up Paddle Surfing Magazine   
Friday, 21 November 2008
thrusteronwave.jpg    It’s a search that never seems to end, the journey for the perfect fins setup for your stand up paddle surfboard. One inch forward or one inch back of your current fin could completely alter the dynamics of your stand up paddle board. What if you were to change out all together? In this Finsights article we are going to explore the thruster fins setup for stand up paddleboards. We’ll cover exactly what a thruster setup is, how to convert your board to a thruster setup, how it might it alter the performance of your board, and what style of surfing the arrangement lends itself best to.

     A thruster fin setup is the fin configuration that dominates most prone-paddle shortboards, namely three fins of almost equal size spaced at almost an equal distance from other in a triangular formation right under the sweet spot of the tail. The center fin is traditionally the same height or slightly smaller than the side fins to complete the arrangement.



     While most stand up paddle surfboards are built with two side fins and an elongated center fin box, it is still possible to run a thruster set up such boards by putting traditional sidebites in the side fin boxes and getting a short center fin about 4” to 4 ¾” tall for the center box. When you install the center fin, be sure to slam it all the way to the back of the fin box. For the surfer who is used to running a 2 + 1 or single fin, it may look strange or feel counterintuitive but that’s how it’s done.


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What will the thruster do for your board? The first thing you’ll probably notice when you get out on the water in a notable decrease in side to side stability in the flat water. The board may also track from side to side as you paddle since the fins don’t run as deep in the water. A thruster setup is definitely a surf specific fin configuration. Not to be discouraged, after a few paddle outs your balance will become more refined and the tippy nature of the board will go unnoticed.

     Thruster fin setups are excellent for surfing off the tail and carrying speed through the turns. In slightly more powerful waves, noserides are also possible with a thruster setup though they may be less stable and short-lived without some juice behind the swell. The sweet spot for controlling your board is right in the middle of the three fins.

     In the surf, your board will feel loose and fast. As opposed to a large single fin which generally keeps a surfboard moving in the same direction, your board may feel like it turns on a dime after transitioning to the shorter fins. Through your bottom turns you’ll carry more speed as opposed to the stalling that can occur with a longer center fin. Off the top, you’ll be able to hit the lip and release the fins, sliding the tail and sending more spray over the back of the wave. Down the line, the board will have an increased sensitivity to your movements and weight shifts.

     Thruster arrangements lend themselves well to fast high performance surfing. While it isn’t an essential element to radical maneuvers, the increase in speed and nimble nature of the thruster may breathe new life into what you previously may have written off as an old clunker of a board. Pull some side fins off an old shortboard, then lay down $40 for a small center fin and you may just discover the missing link that transforms your old stand-by into a high performance shredder.

feed1 Comments
November 23, 2008

Hey Bill did you post this for me?? We were talking fins on thursday at Lani's. Thanks for the article, these topics are great.

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