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Ultimate Guide to Twin Fin Surfboards

Everything You Need to Know

The twin fin surfboard is a culmination of style and graceful performance, granting surfers the ability to draw unique lines down the face with effortless speed and drive.

A twin fin board feels incredible under your feet, and nearly any surfer with one in their quiver will rave about the many benefits of this fin setup.

If a twinny isn't on your radar, it simply should be, and we're here to tell you why.

hayden shapes hyptocrypto twin Nate Tyler on the Hypto Krypto Twin by Haydenshapes

What is a Twin Fin Surfboard?

A twin fin board doesn't necessarily describe a specific shape of a surfboard. Instead, it is a term to describe any surfboard that features a fin set composed of two fins.

With this, there arise multiple ways to customise the shape and dimensions of your twin fin for a surfboard to perfectly cater to your desired style of surfing.

Astro zombie panda surfboards An Astro Zombie by Panda Surfboards with glassed in keel fins

A Brief History of the Twin Fin

The twin fin surfboard has a much longer history than you think. Dating back as far as mid to late 1940's with Bob Simmons explorations into planning hulls and utilised parallel-twin keels to help trim along the face of a wave with more projection and control instead of controlled drag- so began the legacy of the twin fin.

Since then, the twin fin has gone through many variations and was adopted by early knee borders in the '60s-'70s, evolving to the most popular design to date, the fish surfboard. Twin Fins made their biggest impact in the late '70s when Australian Surfing Icon Mark Richards, also known as MR, started dominating professional surfing with his re-invented twin fin design. From 1977 to 1981, Twin Fins were the pinnacle of performance surfing design.

mark richards twin fin Mark Richards and 6ft 4'' Twin, Off The Wall, 1977. Photograph : Lance Trout

Twin Fin Performance

How does a twin fin board feel in the water?

In general, a twin fin will feel extremely loose and free. The parallel fin placement and the larger size of the fins (compared to standard tri-fin setups) will allow for style-oriented high performance, rail to rail surfing with extreme manoeuvrability in both small and big, mushy waves alike.

With that being said, their only drawback is in bigger surf, where they can seem too loose and lack the control you need to handle bigger, juicier waves. No fin in the middle of the deck can make it feel 'slippery' as water hucks steeply over a reef or shallow bottom sandbar, and it takes a lot of experience to reap the benefits of speed in barreling waves.

After utilising the enhanced speed of these surfboards through trimming, however, and less through aggressive pumping, the rider will be able to dig deep into the direction of their turn. Without a middle fin, but compensated by the fin depth maintaining hold in the wave face, this allows for quick yet controlled releases through carves and hacks off the lips, and it's really easy to get the fins free for stylish, progressive flair.

Many twin fin models feature bulkier, softer rails, less pronounced rocker, and a beefed-up volume to add to the overall buoyancy. This makes for a surfboard that is easy to paddle and that allows for nice and early drop-ins to set your line

In terms of specific performance personalities between twin fins, this depends on a few factors, including:

  • The size, shape, and placement of the fins
  • The tail shape of the surfboard
  • The surfboards dimensions
  • misfit beach metal twin fin The Misfit Beach Metal. This is a more performance twin fin design that pays tribute the 'MR' style Twin fin of the 80's.

The Size and Shapes of Twin Fins

The sizes and the shapes of twin fins will vary greatly and have one of the most prominent effects on how the shape of your surfboard reacts to the wave as a twin fin board.

For more performance out of your twin fin board, you'll want to go for a more standard fin shape, and if you want a more stylish, old-school approach, you will use a 'keel'.

Twin Fin vs. Keel

Due to a slightly increased fin length, a standard, modern twin fin will sit slightly deeper in the water. They have a smaller surface area than keels and a narrower base, and are more ideal for surfers who seek performance out of their twin fin board.

Place the performance-oriented twin fins further up for a looser feel and for more manoeuvrability, and further back for increased drive and stability.

A keel is another type of fin setup that is common on twin fin surfboards. Keels, compared to standard twin fins, are much larger in their surface area. They aren't quite as long, so they do not sit as deep in the water, and instead, they are wider (a more extended base), 'fatter' fins that extend across a greater area of the surfboard deck from tail to nose.

Keel fins are much better for a surfer looking to capitalise on the drive of a twin fin surfboard, great for speed and stylish flow, and for increased hold. The increased hold of keel fins makes them an excellent choice for surfing larger waves with a twin fin surfboard and will keep you stable as you trim along the higher portion of the wave and transition to the bottom to initiate turns.

twin find and keel fins True Ames Keel fins on the left and Twin fins on the right

The Tail Shape of the Twin Fin Surfboard

Fishtail, pintail, squaretail, swallowtail… You name it.

Twin fin surfboards come in many shapes and sizes these days, including performance-orientated designs like the DHD Twin Fin and Fish by Thomas Surfboards, popular boards like the JS Black Baron and the performance hybrid style like the Astro Zombie by Panda.

If you don't know much about how the shapes of your surfboard tail affect the way you ride, then check out our all-inclusive guide to tails, rails, and noses for all the information you need.

With that being said, the most popular twin fin board shape is most definitely the fish, as the tail shape of a fish surfboard is the culmination of style and performance in terms of surfboard shape, just like the twin fin is the culmination of style and performance of fin design. Now that's a lovely couple.

Twin Fin Surfboard Dimensions

The dimensions of a twin fin depend again on the board style and intended use. Many twin fin fish shapes will feature smaller lengths but increased width/thickness for an easy to paddle surfboard that is whippy and small under the feet.

A twin fin surfboard might feature a more standard surfboard length for larger waves, especially with pintail twin fins and more hybrid style surfboard shapes.

A performance-oriented twinny will be a little thinner, a little less wide, and with a little more rocker than the twin fins meant for small-wave style.

To nail down the perfect dimensions of your twin fin board, we suggest utilising our innovative board engine. This will provide you with the exact dimensions needed to best complement your body size and intended style of surfing with the twin fin of your dreams.

Ideal Twin Fin Surfboard Conditions

The ideal conditions for your twin fin are specific to your exact board. In general, however, twin fins are known to rip in small waves, whether mushy or steep, and they are great summertime surfboards to help pass the time when conditions lack power.

When the waves do get a bit larger, you can surely handle them on the right twin fin. Twin fins are perfect for big, hamburger waves that break slowly and weakly, but note that they will feel a little hard to control in steep, powerful waves. By lacking a middle fin, you face the chance of the surfboard slipping out in the most critical sections of the barrel/pocket.

If you plan to surf larger waves with twin fin style, definitely ensure to ride a twin fin with a little more of a pronounced rocker to handle steeper drop-ins and one with a volume that can get you locked into the drop-in nice and early to set your line.

You won't be showing off with crazy grab-rail late drops, and instead, you'll be capitalising on the added volume of a twin fin board and the incredible projection down the line topped with controlled drag.

Twin Fin Surfboard- A Summary

A twin fin surfboard is truly the best way to shred small waves and approach larger surf with style-oriented performance.

With insane speed and drive, this fin setup will have you flying down the line, even when there isn't much power, to transition into some of the most artistic carves of your surfing career yet.

A fin surfboard can enhance your surfing experience by allowing you to pivot tightly on each fin for quick hacks or use them as a means to initiate long, drawn-out cutbacks for sheer variety in the way that you can surf. However, there's not much a twin fin cant do, and considering the endless varieties of twin fins, there is quite literally a twinny out there for everyone.

Trust us. A twin fin absolutely belongs in your quiver.

Press play below and watch Stephanie Gilmore, style queen on her DHD Mini Twin