ERS Fin Setup | Tuning Your Ride for Different Environments

Paddle board fin setups can make a huge difference in the feel, performance, and enjoyment of a board, so understanding the ins and outs of each fin system can be an important part of deciding which SUP is right for you. The fin setups on ERS boards are based on surfing innovations know as the 'Thruster' and '2+1' configurations that have been shown to reliably transfer and perform on stand up paddle boards.

For a more detailed look at individual fins and setup provided with Earth River SUP boards see this brief article on the Lake River Coast Fin™ pack otherwise read on for a better understanding of basic fin setups as applied to stand up paddle boarding.

Triple Fin 'Thruster Set-Up'

Although originally a surfing innovation The Tri-Fin or “Thruster” setup has some distinct advantages when applied to a SUP board.

By dividing the fin surface area over three equal-sized fins instead of a long center fin, the total height of the fin system is greatly reduced, which is a huge advantage when paddling in low water or places where rocks or other underwater obstacles are present. Places with interesting plant life and wildlife tend to have shallow water, so having a fin system that lets you explore these areas opens up a lot of interesting paddling opportunities.

The fins are short enough that they do not need to be removable, so they can be permanently attached to the board. The permanent fin system is practical and carefree for most paddlers, as it avoids hassles such as attaching and removing fins, replacing broken fins, losing or forgetting to pack a fin or fin mounting hardware.

Our SKYLAKE GREEN ™ series boards use high-performing foiled unbreakable fins – with just the right amount of flex, so you can own a high-performing board and never worry about breaking or losing a fin. Boards with three permanent unbreakable fins have become extremely popular with instructors and SUP rental agencies for these reasons but the overall quality of the board should be considered, not just the fin type. The fins are made from a special polymer that has “memory”, allowing it to bend when pressure is applied but always return to its original shape

Advantages of the ERS triple fin system are:

- It lets you paddle in very shallow water because there is no long center fin.
- The fins are indestructible, so you never need to worry about breaking them
- The fins are permanently attached, so you will never arrive at the water and discover that you have left your fins behind.
- Great speed across the water and fast turning due to less surface area drag.
- The time-tested design has been refined over the years and gets rave reviews from recreational paddlers.
The advantages of the triple fin system are apparent when you consider how many instructors and outfitters have chosen it for their paddling programs.

Permanent Unbreakable SUP fins

2+1 LRC Fin Setup

ERS DUAL / SKYLAKE BLUE™ boards are designed and built for a high level of performance and have a fin system that can be tuned to the changing needs and paddling styles. The Advanced 2 + 1 setup has a center fin box compatible with all US Standard longboard fins and a pair of side fin boxes that accept the included “click fins” as well as a vast array of FCS 2 side fins. The 2+1 setup differs from the Thruster config when a longer center fin is used. When using three fins of the same length this setup would still be considered a Thruster setup.

Advantages of the ERS DUAL / SKYLAKE BLUE™  2 + 1 fin setup are:
- It lets you use different fin configurations based on your needs and preferences. You can run a single center fin when speed is a priority, a long center fin, and two side fins for stability in moving water, or two side fins and no center fin when you want to keep things loose and fast turning.
- The center fin box accepts both US and FCS Connect fins, so you have a virtually unlimited selection of fins to choose from.
- The side fins can be inserted and removed quickly without any tools or hardware or can be permanently secured using set screws.
- Excellent tracking with the use of long center fins - ability to use shorter center fins for faster turning when conditions require it.
- With the fins removed, the boards roll up very compactly when deflated and stack well when left inflated.

A performance-oriented 2 + 1 setup will have a foiled (aerodynamically contoured) center fin and side fins that are also foiled and long enough to provide lateral movement control, in the range of 2 – 4 inches of height.

If shallow water and underwater obstacles are not present in the places you will do most of your paddling, and you will not be doing advanced maneuvers in moving water, using a single long center fin can be a practical solution.  A single fin with 8 inches or more of height provides excellent tracking and stability and is often the fastest setup for a board shaped for racing or touring. A single center fin of 4.5" in height can be a good option for surfing an inflatable SUP in trashy or small waves as it keeps the board loose and there is less chance of the wave grabbing the fin and potentially sweeping the board when the wave breaks.

ERS Fin setup

Avoid Poorly Implemented Fin Setups

While the 2 + 1 Fin setup has a long history in surfboard design and is prevalent in various incarnations on SUP boards that do not perform well. The idea is to have a large center fin which enhances speed and tracking and two smaller side fins to keep the tail more stable in maneuvers where lateral pressure is applied at the tail - so where can this go wrong?

One configuration available on a vast number of low-cost mass-marketed boards with poor implementation is where the center fin is removable and made of molded plastic and the side fins are permanents and very short – usually no more than 2” in height. While the layout may look familiar from surfing, the reason this setup exists on so many SUP boards has more to do with commercial expediency, as the boards can be rolled up very tightly when the center fin is removed and the short 2” side fins do not affect the compactness of the rolled board.

Drawbacks of the mass market 2 + 1 fin setup are that the center fin is usually not contoured for best performance, the attachment system is not universal, making replacement of lost or broken fins difficult and costly, and the side fins are not tall enough to provide any real lateral stability. Even this basic analysis doesn’t address the issue of component quality which is generally sub-par and prone to breaking.

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