Bigger fins and smaller boards

by Chris D | Jun 05, 2013
With the trend towards bigger fins and smaller boards, we caught up with World Champion Longboarder Harley Ingleby for some great insights into his winning fin configurations, Alaia's and FCS-II.

1.     Besides being a World Champ longboarder, your also a coach, sales rep, contest judge, Brand Ambassador… Give us snapshot of your busy life right now!

Yep, I’m busy, but I still managing to surf twice a day most days. On a typical day I’ll check the waves at first light with Tom Woods from ST Surf Images. I usually have a Vegemite Surf Groms lesson mid-morning, then most of the arvo is spent on the phone and email speaking with GoPro and Surftech accounts. 

I'm definitely lucky to have a good balance of work and play, or play being work a lot of the time. Testing new fins and fin systems is fun, and having to supply GoPro with content isn't a bad gig either! I get to spend a lot of time at home but not enough to get bored. I get away for a few events and trips each year, and hit the NSW North Coast regularly with my rep work. The car’s always got a quiver in it on my rep runs! 

2.      You’re a true hybrid surfer who rides everything from LB’s to shortboards, SUP’s and Alaia’s. How do you choose what board and fins to ride?

It’s generally a case of having a look or knowing the swell and bank set ups, then making a call. I've been riding mostly quad shortboards and quad hybrids the last 6-8 years. 

For my wide tail boards I obviously run the HI-1 quad set, but in my narrower boards MF-1 or G-AM in the front and either PC-2 or PC-3 sides in the rear. If the waves are really small and clean I’ll ride the nose rider, and if its overhead and perfect I’ll jump in the HP longboard so I can chase down the peaks. 

On my nose rider I keep coming back to the 9.75” Ignition, and on the HP my HI-1 thruster set. I definitely love to mix it up with the Alaia, I even shaped a stand up bodyboard last year for something totally different. SUP's are only a flat water thing for me at this stage. Around the headlands and up the creeks when I can’t find a wave. 

3.      There’s been a trend towards bigger fins and smaller boards which suits your signature HI-1 fin. Tell us what’s under your feet at the moment.

Everyone seems to be riding shorter and wider boards at the moment, and why wouldn't you. If you can have a smaller board that fits better into the curves of a wave, and that will paddle and hold, sounds good to me. I've always loved larger fins with heaps of drive to push off, that’s why I’ve used the G-AM and Sunny's in the past, and now the MF-1.

My signature fin the FCS HI-1 came about because I was starting to release the tail on my longboards and I didn't like the feeling of the 2 + 1 setups with a super dominant rear fin when controlling slide and re-entry. A 2 + 1 placement is generally further forward than a typical thruster allowing you to turn and drive from further up the board. I didn't want to lose that drive in a LB in my boards and that's why it’s such a large thruster set.  

4.      You’ve been involved with testing the new FCS II system. What’s been you initial thoughts on the features and performance of the new system?

The first and most important thing I noticed is they surf better, besides the fact that it only took 3 seconds to put my fins in. I really noticed a performance difference from the X-2 to Fusion, and then from Fusion to FCS II I felt the performance bar lift again. From X-2 to Fusion it was due to the installation of the plug under the glass, and from Fusion to FCS II I think it’s because of the larger tabs, stiffer base, and the flush fit to board. Even without screws pushing on the fin they just feel so much more solid in the board. Heaps of drive! I've definitely been changing my fins up a lot more since having the new FCS II system in my boards. 

Personally I think it’s really good for your surfing to make those little adjustments all the time. It was never hard to change fins before, but I'm now changing fins even more to suit the conditions, and to really get the most out of my boards. 

5.      Let’s dig a little deeper into fins… what’s your foil preference for thusters and quads?

Thrusters; I'm flat foil all the way! 
Quads: I mix it up. I've found for my quads a flat foil, highly raked template in the front, and PC-2 or PC-3 with inside foil in the rear works best for me. I find a flat foil in the rear tends to be a little directional and harder to break out of turns, while a 50/50 foil in the rear lacks drive in smaller conditions. I find rears with inside foil to be the best of both worlds. The subtle 80/20 leading edge foil means you don't get stuck in your turn transitions, and the concave exit of the foil gives plenty of drive like a flat foil fin.