Words by John Streit. Photos by Jill Thomas & Streit.

As surfboard designs have gravitated toward the shorter-wider-thicker side of things over the past decade, it’s become apparent that fin designs lagged slightly behind these modern innovations. Sure, pre-existing twin fin and quad designs worked well with these wider-tailed, higher-volume performance boards; but still, something was lacking. That something was a feeling of confident control underfoot.

As a result of small-wave boards being designed with more width behind the back foot to increase planing area — as well as more thickness to further aid in groveling — upright twin fins and thruster-template quad sets tend to slide out prematurely during critical turns. While this “skate-y” feel is one of the most fun aspects of riding these alternative and retro shapes, losing traction during a big turn can send the board flying away from one’s feet, turning a power-gauge into a sloppy flail.

Enter the quad keel. This hybrid fin design takes the best aspects of a couple of old-school fin designs and combines them — along with some technological updates — into the ultimate setup for performance, wide-tailed performance boards and standup paddleboards. The lead fins closely resemble the outline of twin-keel fins and perform the same function, only in a smaller package that relies on the trailer fins (we’ll get to those nexct). The long fin base and extreme rake of the fins ensures that the rail will hold true through powerful, arching turns; but a notch cut into the base allows for the fins to slide free when pushed by the surfer. The trailer fins are extremely upright and foiled symmetrically — think of this like a tiny single-fin for each of your rails off of which to pivot snappy turns. The trailers are also reminiscent of the dagger-like twin fins used on the first Simmons-type boards of the late 1960s. When these two fin types are combined along each rail, the result is a ride that accelerates through turns, generates ample drive in small, gutless surf but won’t blow out when pushed to high levels of performance. This combination works so well with wide-tailed boards since the high-volume tail tends to float — or “skate” across the surface due to its buoyancy. The long base coverage and rake of the setup anchor the board down to the wave face, which results in superior drive. Still, these fins react to the will of the rider — they will release when pushed to release by the surfer — hence the appropriate brand name “Controller” employed by Futures.

Currently, Surf & Adventure Co. carries Futures “Seaworthy” quad keel set a slightly smaller, honeycomb version of the original Controllers. We’d be glad to order up any number of speciality fins from Futures, FCS and Shapers Fins at our retail location in Sandbridge!

Futures "Seaworthy" quad-keels designed by Matt Biolos of Lost Surfboards.
The classic quad-keel setup: Futures "Controller."
S&A owner Rob Lindauer accelerating through a frontside turn with quad-keel fins underfoot on a Walden Enigma, the predecessor to the new Surf & Adventure Surfboards "Disrupter" coming soon. Both models work best with quad-keel fins setups. Photo: Thomas.
Kenny Mills pushing it over the lip, driven by Shapers Fins "D.V.S. Quad Keels." Photo: Thomas.
The same reason quad-keel fins work so well on high-width, high volume surfboards translates directly to SUPs. Craig Thomas feeling the drive off the bottom. Photo: Thomas
A perfect blend of drive and release. Kenny Mills. Photo: Thomas.
Rob Lindauer, in full control with the help of his trust quad-keels. Photo: Streit.
Shapers Fins "D.V.S. Quad Keel," shown here in the one-base (Futures-compatible) version.
Shapers Fins "D.V.S. Quad-Keel" two-tab (FCS-compatible) version. FCS does not produce a quad-keel fin, so this is the best option for those with FCS systems.

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