Nothing can turn a dog of a surfboard into a magic carpet like tweaking the fins. Look no further than Nat Young's "Magic Sam" that was well endowed with a George Greenough designed fin, and eventually led Young to victory at the 1966 World Titles in San Diego.
Then came Mark Richards and his unique twist on the twin-fin, an innovation that guided him to four world titles in 1979, '80, '81 and '82.
But up until the recent advent of removable fin systems, tinkering with different design concepts meant ripping the fins out and re-glassing new ones in. New age fin boxes have led to all sorts of experimentation, all the way to Kelly Slater's "nubster," which finished runner-up at the 2011 Quiksilver Pro in New York.
Typically it's rake, foil and flex that are the components most toyed with, but a new Australian company may be taking things to an entirely new dimension. Enter 3DFins. The basic principle is that they're dimpled like a golf ball, which in theory creates cavitation, in turn making for less resistance or friction, ultimately making your board faster.
They're still new to market, in fact, few people have even seen the prototypes, but what they have done is sign one of the most progressive surfers in the world in Josh Kerr to be their first test pilot/team rider.
"When I was first approached by the lads at 3DFins and saw the kind of designs and concepts they had been developing I knew straight away that this was exactly what I'd been looking for," says Kerr. "I really want to help take surfing to the next level and I believe that together with the 3D crew we can definitely make this happen."
Not just a gimmick, the dimple technology, similar to that which revolutionised golf ball performance both in distance and in speed, the 3D concept has been put through a series of "Computational Flow Dynamic" tests, which has scientifically proven to provide significantly less drag and more lift. That's right, science and surfing.
A faster board with more lift in the tail theoretically means that the average surfer will be able to make it around close-out sections easier and hopefully get spit out of tubes that once gobbled them up. For a surfer of Kerr's ability the sky's the limit.
When told about the innovative design, three-time world champion Tom Curren seemed interested, remarking, "Makes sense."
Available for both FCS and Future Fins systems, they're non-discrimatory. As well, they're designing setups for both thrusters and quads, so there should be plenty of options. The dimples will appear on the outside of the side fins, and both sides of the rear trailer fin.
3DFins should be available in surf shops in Australia and the U.S. in the coming months, so we're going to have to wait awhile before we can screw them into the bottom of our boards, but keep an eye on Kerr, especially this September as he gears up for the Hurley Pro at Lower Trestles, considered one of the most high performance waves in the world.