FCS Fin Test 2 – XL Performer Front, S Performer Quad Rear

Testing FCS fins with the Starboard SUP as a Quad Setup.

Have I told you guys how much I love surfing?  Well, I f@#$ing love it!!!

After traveling for a week and then having to unexpected leave for another 2 days, I’ve only surfed once in the last 2 weeks.  You’d have to go back to august to find 2 weeks with that little surfing.  I have been in the water, but kids are are amping so much that they don’t let me surf.  Sunday, I had it all planned out, get up early, sneak an hour or two in the water, then have the kids meet me, but they woke up earlier than I did and were already ready to go.  I’m not complaining, I’m actually having just as much fun watching them learn as I’m having surfing.

Read Day 1 of the Fin Test, Performer XL Front and GL FCS2 Center

But today was my day!  Kids at school, and the Fiji swell was showing up!  I checked the reef early, still not enough wave and the direction was wrong.  So I headed up to the beachy, high tide.  I didn’t expect it to be big yet, so I thought it would be a great day to try the quad setup that Tyler from FCS sent over.


Now, I don’t love quads normally.  There are a few boards that I’ll ride them, but not since my board was the 7.4 x 28.5 Airborn have I preferred quads.  Another board that I will ride as a quad at times is the 7.5 x 26 F-One.  That board likes the GAM2s.  So, today when I decided to ride the Quad setup, I wasn’t overly optimisitc.

I have tried a quad setup in the 2015 and 2016 7.4s.  If you don’t know the difference between those boards, the 2015 is 78L the 2016 is 83L.  The rails in the 2016 are a bit fatter, and fin placement is much better.  The 2015 fins were pulled in too far off the rails which hurt performance.  They fixed that in the 2016.


I didn’t like either the 2015 or 2016 as a quad.  Early on I tried the stretch quad set, which is my favorite shortboard set and lately the Performer L front and M trailers.  The stretch set was way too lose, fun on super small days, but I hate losing speed because of small fins.  The Performer L-M combo was also slidey, and flitty.  Not sure if flitty is a word, but it accurately describes the feeling.  Quick back and forth without any real drive.  Slow and weak off the bottom.

I described that feeling to Tyler and he sent me the Performer XL and the S trailer.  As I said, I didn’t expect much.

The waves this morning were bigger than I anticipated.  Sets up to 10-12 foot on the face were coming through every 15 minutes.  As I loosened up on the beach, I regretted my decision to ride the quad.  That said, I’m committed to the process and journey, not the outcome.


It’s a new experience for me to try to remain an observer instead of an active participant in  surfing.  I’ve been reading a lot about sports phycology and getting the conscious mind out of the way is something I’m working on.  Also trying to instill this in activites with the kids.

Here’s the idea –  You do something.  Instead of judging if you did it right or wrong, you notice how it went and draw lessons from the process.  So a wrong is a positive because you learn something.  And a right is a positive because you have a mental representation of how to do it correctly.  It takes the negative emotion out of the equation and allows you to learn faster.  Easier to say than do, but I’m working on it.

Like this approach to learning?  Come train with us in Costa Rica!


So as I was paddling out today I was just reminding myself today is a great opportunity to feel how these fins work in larger waves.

All my preconceived notions were wrong.

First wave was a medium one.  I’m conditioned to surf a new board or a board with different fins tentatively at the begging.  I have a exploration process.  Ideally I’d like to get a few slopey waves to first feel the rail, then open up a turn or two when I figure out where the board is really grabbing the water.  My first bottom turn held.  So much so that it put me off balance coming up to the lip and I blew the top turn,  ruined the wave.  But I realized that there might be something to this fin setup.

Second wave ran a bit and I got to expore where the board was accelerating.  I didn’t figure the drive out today.  Honestly, it felt a bit slow.  This is most likely user error, as I’m so dialed into riding this board as a thruster. There’s a lot of subtlety to driving down the line.  It didn’t slip around and the other quad setups I’ve used on this board have been dicey.

After a couple more waves I finally got a wave with a few sections.  I loved it on the bottom.  If you’ve been reading, that’s where I have problems with this board.  If you can hold a bottom turn, you can have a good angle and enough velocity to come hard off the top.


I’m not done testing this set.  Because I don’t ride quads much I need to give it a few days to internalize.  I think it will be 2 or 3 days before I can surf it without thinking about foot placement and really get feel for the differences.  But so far, I’m pleasantly surprised and looking forward to asking Tyler why it feels so much different from other experiences with Quads.  So far, he’s 2 for 2.

Read Day 1 of the Fin Test, Performer XL Front and GL FCS2 Center

The Squat – Stability on Smaller Boards

That perfect blend between sitting and standing, stability and the ability to react fast.

It was August when I first saw Kieran and Fisher Grant squat out the back while waiting for waves.  Upon arriving in the lineup there’s that awkward moment when you decide whether to stand, paddle around or sit down.  If you’ve been reading, you know I’m an advocate of sitting, assimilating into the tribe, but it’s not aways graceful to get down on your board.  And sometimes there might be a set coming and you don’t want to fully commit to sitting.

In comes the squat.  That perfect blend between sitting and standing, assimilating into the lineup and being ready for the set.

A video posted by paddlewoo (@paddlewoo) on

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This is  normal paddle stance, approaching the lineup.

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The first movement in the squat is to move up on your board.  When your squatting your nose is well underwater, tail sticking out.  To move forward you’ll move your front foot first, then follow with he back foot.  The picture above is front foot already up and back foot in the process.  Compare photo 1 to 2 for difference in foot position.

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Back foot has joined front foot forward on the board and your weight is coming forward.  Your back foot should be a touch behind your front foot, but more parallel than surf stance.

The objective is to sink your board, nose first.  Notice the paddle moving into a horizontal position.  It will be your balance.  If you have slick wax on your board, or a bad traction pad you’ll like have the board slip out backwards a few times when you’re learning this part of the technique.  I prefer traction to wax in warmer water.

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Nose is sinking, paddle balancing the squat.

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I like this angle as it shows how to use the paddle for balance.  The goal is to keep your paddle underwater.  I hold the blade at a 45 degree angle so you have balance front to back and side to side.

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This is the full squat.  The more underwater you can be, the more balance you’ll have and less energy it will take.  So play around with how far forward you like sitting.  I was riding a 9.0 Hobie Longboard SUP the other day and realised I could still squat, but needed to be 3/4  of the way to the nose to do it.

Contest paddle surfers like this maneauver because it’s still technically standing.  I use it constantly in our contests here in Costa Rica because our rules state you have to be standing the entire time.  And riding a small board for a 20m heat and a 5 or 10m paddle out and standing the whole time is a huge energy drain.

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Getting into the squat is the easy part, getting back up is a bit trickier.  The move that has worked best for me (and I’d love to hear other variations if you have something that works for you) is a simultaneous push with the paddle backwards while stepping your back foot back on the board.  The paddle stroke is pushing you towards your tail, getting the board up on the water.  This is a reverse coming out of the hole maneauver.  Read the Seated Pop-Up Breakdown to understand coming out of the hole.

The objective is to get the board back to a neutral position, with your back foot far enough back to sink the tail.  Your blade will be forward and if you have your nose pointed back up you can simply pull yourself back on top of the water.  I’d suggest watching the video a few times to understand this technique.

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Back foot is back and the tail is now high in the water, board is near horizontal.  The next step is getting the weight back on the back foot and pulling on the paddle.

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Almost out of the water, nose breaching.  This is the end of the pull stroke.

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Fully recovered, ready to catch the next wave.