Finless or Not?

What works and what doesn't. Share design ideas, references and contacts for paipo board builders.
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rodndtube
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Finless or Not?

Unread post by rodndtube » Fri Mar 29, 2013 12:25 pm

There seems to be a movement asserting that finless boards are every bit as capable as finned boards.
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Many in the wood bellyboard community also make this assertion. I remain unconvinced. Granted, very thin rails on a 1/4 inch to 3/4 inch wood board possess edge holding capability and the boards can glide. But does a finless board rider have the same range of waveriding capabilities as a board with fins?

This question pricked me during last night's viewing of last night's viewing of the Jack McCoy surf film, A Deeper Shade of Blue, whether the director made an excellent presentation of riding finless wavecraft, mostly on alaia-type boards. McCoy talked about how the use of some surf designs have come full circle since the height of the traditional Hawaiian surf boards (pre-20th century). McCoy also presented a very good design progression of surfboard design and breakthroughs and the surfing on these boards during the past 80+ years. One path of breakthroughs was the evolution from relatively flat bottom boards to the Hot Curl boards that had a rudder-in-board shape (with tapered tails and v-bottom tails) and then the introduction of the skeg. What was seen and unseen also tells volumes. At one extreme, for example, there was no footage of anyone riding alaia-style boards at Shipsterns or Teahupo'o. Or, winning any pro-tour contests where the riders do roller coasters, floaters, hard cutback into and out of the curl/whitewater, projection underneath the whitewater, etc.

The footage of Derek Hynd riding finless was outstanding. Doubt I could pull off anything close to that (nor ride Pipeline at 5-foot Hawaiian!). There is a place for finless riding but as with most if not all board designs it is always about compromise and optimizing to certain wave conditions and wave riding styles.

Friendly chatter and discussion invited.
[Caveat: Mats, handboards, paipos/bellyboards/bodyboards of all types... elephant guns... all good.]
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Re: Finless or Not?

Unread post by Uncle Grumpy » Fri Mar 29, 2013 12:49 pm

My BW and my new pal Derek both agree,
It ain't for all waves and it ain't for everyone but Finless is fun and addicting.
:P
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Just because there was no footage in Jack's new film doesn't mean it's not happening.
Rob Machado and Dave Rastovich have both ridden alaia in substantial surf and Mike Stewart rides all the waves finless...........
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See how fast he goes!
What is it he knows?

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Re: Finless or Not?

Unread post by krusher74 » Fri Mar 29, 2013 5:20 pm

I have rode bodyboards for 20 years not a fin in sight, and now onto a new life adventure on a finless paipo.
I can say that it holds a rail better than all my previous bodyboards. I spent the winter in cali with plenty of double over head day in one of my fave heaving beachbreaks and not once on a steep drop and hard bottom turn to barrel do the rail even twitch and feel on the edge.

I put it down to the concave, V and chine rail I stole from wegners alaia's.

Only thing I have ever surfed with a fin was , my friends wooden paipo and that tracked horribly in a straight line.

My paipo doe not side slip like the alaia riders i have seen in wegners videos unless i horribly stall and foruch the rail to break out.

I can also happily as on my bodyboard break the rail free 360 and catch back the rail with ease.

I would happily put fins on my board if i thought they would help, but so far the board has never failed to go where i wanted it to go.

And from what i hear finless is faster!!

My 2cents, keith ;)

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Re: Finless or Not?

Unread post by krusher74 » Sun Jun 02, 2013 10:15 am

On a follow up I got to try out a finned paipo on my g-land trip with a board swap one day with Terry

The conditions that day we 2/3ft and the tide was very high, so this is as slopey and slow as g-land gets.

I found on the finned board that because the fins were on the back corners, that on a slow wave when i got real far forward on the board (weight balance in front of the fins) that i found the board very hard to turn. on a steeper more powerful wave when i did not need to be forward and my weight could be over the fin it was easier to turn and pivot the board.
So my personal findings on this particular board were that I had to move my weight to a certain spot on the board to get it to turn, this was not optimum if I wanted my weight forward and also wanted to turn, so i just found the fins a drawback.
Terry had a go on my finless board and going from a finned board had no problem holding an edge or turning. (he had bodyboarded a lot so was used to the finless ride though)

I do think it however my finless board work so well due to the alaia concave and V I have used on them, if I had used a conventional surfboard hull they may need fins.

I was routing through my photos and found this one interesting in the way it shows the wake off the board and the spray out to the side.
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Re: Finless or Not?

Unread post by rodndtube » Sun Jun 02, 2013 10:27 am

The board of Terry's that you tried out was the Romanosky (the one in the picture on the G-land thread?). That board can provide a sense of how fins might work, however, that board is also so very different in plan shape, rails, thickness and not to mention the range of fins that could be used vs. the ones installed (not to mention fin shape, size, placement). Not to diminish what you have experienced with your board's plan shape, rail and bottom.
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Re: Finless or Not?

Unread post by bgreen » Thu Jun 06, 2013 2:17 am

I've ridden the same board, finned and finless. Besides surfer preference, the other big variable is the wave. In a hollow wave I don't think there is much difference, however, if the wave has full sections and you want to do big cutbacks the finned boards, let you do this more radically/readily. Tighter turns generally on the finned boards.

Everytime you open the forum page there is a finless John Galera surfing Jockos. John was loaned a finned paipo recently and preferred it withoout the fins. Krusher's photos also show decent waves being ridden, finless, on a design quite different to Johns.

So in the end, it depends.

Bob

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Re: Finless or Not?

Unread post by krusher74 » Thu Jun 06, 2013 5:22 pm

bgreen wrote:I've ridden the same board, finned and finless. Besides surfer preference, the other big variable is the wave. In a hollow wave I don't think there is much difference, however, if the wave has full sections and you want to do big cutbacks the finned boards, let you do this more radically/readily. Tighter turns generally on the finned boards.

Everytime you open the forum page there is a finless John Galera surfing Jockos. John was loaned a finned paipo recently and preferred it withoout the fins. Krusher's photos also show decent waves being ridden, finless, on a design quite different to Johns.

So in the end, it depends.

Bob
I think the hull of a finned board is never designed to work finless, so its going to be better with its fins.

You start designing your hull with fins never in mind and you make a whole different hull to a finned board. I have a big 1 1/2" chine rail, you don't see those on finned board, but every finless bodyboard has them.

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Re: Finless or Not?

Unread post by soulglider » Fri Jun 07, 2013 9:46 am

displacement hulls work really well with or without fins. of course they dont work the same. plywood paipos do too. there are tons of bellyboards/bodyboards with chines (big and small) that have fins on them. they even sell kits to add fins to body boards and boogie boards (moreys name for them). i love this quote; everything works, its a matter of "IF" you like the way it works~unknown
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Re: Finless or Not?

Unread post by mrmike » Fri Jun 07, 2013 10:29 am

well said

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Re: Finless or Not?

Unread post by GeoffreyLevens » Sat Jun 08, 2013 3:36 pm

i love this quote; everything works, its a matter of "IF" you like the way it works~unknown
Another variation: Late 60's was hanging out in WIlderness shop in SB harassing Greenough and fingering Velo while he did all rope glass lay-up for new fin. Every question I asked him he answered with "Every thing works, it just depends on what you want to feel..."

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Re: Finless or Not?

Unread post by jbw4600 » Sat Jun 15, 2013 12:23 am

After switching back to finned boards after surfing 20 years on finless boards, I will never go back. My twin finned board is very loose and still holds when you need it. It is almost skate like and yet it makes very tight turns. I love my fins. So many types of fins, so few days.

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Re: Finless or Not?

Unread post by krusher74 » Tue Jun 18, 2013 1:39 pm

jbw4600 wrote:After switching back to finned boards after surfing 20 years on finless boards, I will never go back. My twin finned board is very loose and still holds when you need it. It is almost skate like and yet it makes very tight turns. I love my fins. So many types of fins, so few days.
What did you find were the draw backs of your finless board, loosing the edge of could no turn as tight as you car now.

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Re: Finless or Not?

Unread post by jbw4600 » Tue Jun 18, 2013 9:57 pm

I don't think that there are any drawbacks to finless boards. It is a different style of ride. Fins hold better in turns and on walls. It takes a lot less effort to hold your line. I was watching a bodyboarder the other day, while he was going across the wave he was sliding sideways and loosing ground. That doesn't happen much with fins. I can make it around alot more sections that I couldn't make before. Many times I will think that I won't make it, when low and behold I go right around.

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Re: Finless or Not?

Unread post by Nels » Wed Jun 19, 2013 2:25 am

I used to prone ride a 54" soft kneeboard, template roughly modeled after "Velo", that had twin O'Fishel fins. The rails were very "bodyboard". With the fins in, directional stability and good hold...such good hold that sometimes in very critical suck out situations I would stick and get tossed. Pop the fins out and I could really up the percentage of makable suck outs. At 54" and with stiffening rods inside it that board really didn't ride like a bodyboard. That board never had the "bog". I considered it a paipo with vacum-track rails. Having fin boxes or the ability to adjust or remove fins makes a lot of sense for prone riders.

Nels

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Re: Finless or Not?

Unread post by OG-AZN » Wed Jun 19, 2013 6:04 pm

To me, the thing that makes (traditional finless wood) paipo riding unique, challenging, and a hell of a lot of fun is the fact that the boards slide. I think the most fun I have riding paipo is using the old skool style where you're well forward on the board, legs / fins lifted out of the water and you're balancing the speed and side slip with just one hand in the wave face and subtle hand pressure on the outside rail. I don't think it's the most efficient way to ride for control and tricks, but it's the most fun. It's easier to use the inside arm forward or bodyboard hand position styles where you can easily use one or both legs for control and you have more leverage on the rails, but you don't get the same feeling. If you have any doubt about the efficiency of skeg-less prone riding, just watch any vid with top level bodyboarders surfing insanely steep waves like Chopes, Shark Island, or Fronton. As long as the board length is short enough to allow the rider to effectively use their legs for control, say 48" and under, I don't think skegs are necessary.

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Re: Finless or Not?

Unread post by rodndtube » Wed Jun 19, 2013 6:34 pm

But, Og, I never thought of legs and feet as "frictionless," but to be quite the contrary. Much more friction than most fins or fin set-ups.
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Re: Finless or Not?

Unread post by OG-AZN » Wed Jun 19, 2013 6:48 pm

You can easily go on and off the "brakes" by just shifting forward and lifting you legs on a shorter, skegless board. The best visual example of this technique is bodyboarder Jeff Hubbard's riding style, watch the wave around 3:10:
http://vimeo.com/68108628

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Re: Finless or Not?

Unread post by rodndtube » Wed Jun 19, 2013 7:08 pm

I understand how it is done, but dropping a leg/foot usually creates for drag than a fin-assisted turn. Personally, I like having the control my fins provide when surfing reefy/rocky conditions... the alternative could end up as catastrophe! Slip sliding away takes on a new meaning ;)

In any case, I am looking forward to AtlantaSurfer to chime in soon, too.
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Re: Finless or Not?

Unread post by jbw4600 » Thu Jun 20, 2013 4:06 pm

I miss riding finless sometimes. I have ridden all sorts of waves finless - big and small. You can ride practically anything finless (with a fin drag sometimes). But I am having too fun with my fins now. I love the projection at the bottom of a wave etc. I'll probably ride finless again sometime.

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Re: Finless or Not?

Unread post by bgreen » Fri Jun 21, 2013 11:56 am

How did this thread start and where's it heading;

The first question is easy, Rod's statment: There seems to be a movement asserting that finless boards are every bit as capable as finned boards...I remain unconvinced"."

Where this discussion is heading is more difficult to tell, but the path is somewhat circular, so I'll repeat what Soulglider and Uncle G had to say, which I think acknowledge finless boards can be ridden
in all sorts of conditions, just like finned boards:

SG: "i love this quote; everything works, its a matter of "IF" you like the way it works~unknown"
UncleG: It ain't for all waves and it ain't for everyone but Finless is fun and addicting".


There's plenty of evidence finless boards can be ridden in decent sized, hollow waves, without spinning out.

Is a powerboat more capable than a dugout canoe?

Bob

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