You strike me as someone with good knowledge of the surf biz. One thing I find myself asking is why the hell are fins so expensive? Molded plastic going over $100 seems crazy. Are sponsorships eating away profits or are these guys just making money hand over fist? What kind of mark-up do retailers get? Why isn’t some cut rate outfit making a $20 knockoff? Are the plugs patented? What about proprietary foil, flex, or dimensions? How badly are we being raked over the coals? I need to know!
Fins Out and Fancy Free
So many questions! Let’s see if we cant find some answers. (That was a pun, not a typo.)
Fins HAVE gotten ridiculously expensive in the last few years, and there’s a very simple reason. People are willing to pay that much. Fins are rocking the keystone markup, and serve as an awesome up sell item.
Ever work in a surf shop? Then you’ve dealt with the type of moron who comes in to buy their first board, and insists on a sparkling white hiperf rip stick. They usually know how to ride a snowboard, or a wakeboard, or something like that, and are convinced that they’ll be able to shred it up in no time. No, they don’t want a longboard, or even a big fishy plank. It’s gotta be small, thin, and expensive. So, great. You give them what they want. But they probably need a bag too. And multiple leashes. And a bunch of different sets of fins for various conditions. You can turn seven hundred bucks into a grand lickety-split. Nothing wrong with parting a chump from his money, it’s his own hubris ripping him off.
Of course, there are the unscrupulous dicks who use fins as a bait and switch. “Oh, fins aren’t included.”
Well, they were included in the wholesale cost, and the board won’t work without them. It’s like selling a car, but the price doesn’t include tires. You can always haggle your way into having them thrown in, but why bother? Go somewhere else, leave them to their kook swindling.
As far as sponsorships eating away profits, it’s hard to say. Easy to point out that FCStitch is tossing money at nearly everyone on tour, while the Futures team is pretty sparse, and runs a fraction of the advertising.
Which isn’t surprising, Futures makes an awesome product. I’m a Futures boy through and through. Strong as fuck, spider webbed many a box on shallow reef, never actually torn one out. I’m the first to say that brand loyalty is for idiots, but I’m gay for Futures. I’d happily suck their collective dick in a truck stop shitter.
FCS… sucks. I’ve broken fins, and plugs, doing turns. Totally unacceptable. They were on the right track with the Fusions, adding a layer of glass to keep the plugs from popping out (which Futures had been doing since the beginning), but then they ruined it with the FCS2 fuckery. Titanium rods? Upgrade kits to make them backward compatible? Total bullshit.
Did you know that Surf Hardware sued SurfCo Hawaii for patent infringement over the Pro Teck line? They did, they lost, and they opened the door for off brand competitors. You can find them online, check Alibaba Express. Super inexpensive, though they cut corners like mad and you run the risk of picking up a poorly foiled hummingbird.
Now, does fin shape really matter? Will swapping up your foil, flex, cant, base, rake, make a difference? Yes and no. If you’re in the top ten percent, ability wise, of people who consider themselves surfers, then yes. Once you know how to engage your fins, use them to drive through turns, off the bottom, whatever, they can make or break a section. My oafish ass is totally devoted to stiff carbon numbers. When you’re over two hundred pounds anything else just feels like mush, especially if the surf has some juice. But for everyone else, the huge unjazzed mass of barneys standing knock kneed, bent waist, trimming awkwardly toward the shoulder on a shortboard they don’t know how to ride? There’s no difference, beyond the well documented fact that if you think you’re ripping you may as well be. And like a kick ass airbrush, neat looking fins will make you think you surf at least five percent better.
I’ve got, literally, a few dozen sets of fins I’ve accumulated over the years. But I’m always on my Techflex Merricks. I love ’em, so much so that I’ll swap in some second tier jobs if it’s particularly shallow. I don’t know if I can still wrangle a deal on them, and I don’t relish the idea of peeling off that much dough for a replacement set. Small, low tide, Rocky Rights? I’m running plastics so I don’t break my heart, and my wallet.
In the end, whether we’re talking fins specs, or board design, there’s no right answer. Everything comes down to your personal preference, whatever suits your own particular approach to wave sliding. Some people will swear that glass-ons are the end-all-be-all, and even though they’re a nightmare to ship, and they take up too much space on the rack, if that’s what floats your boat, right on. But, for me, it comes down to rugged durability. What’s gonna let me keep surfing without paying out the ass for a constant stream of replacement fins? The only correct answer is Futures.
Due to the volume of mail, Dear Rory can’t answer letters personally etc…