We like to talk about how the small things can make a big difference in your SUP training and racing. Choosing a stand up paddle race fin for the conditions you are paddling in is just another small choice that can make a big difference. Read the details about choosing a stand up paddle race fin and understand the design features that make a fin a good or bad choice.
A fin helps to track a board in a straight line and can affect the boards speed and stability. Stand up paddle race fins can be broken down into the following sections:
Base And Tip
The base is the section of the fin that is closest to the board when installed. It is usually the widest part of the fin and helps to stabilize the board and affects tracking. The tip is the other end of the fin that extends down into the water. The tip also affects tracking and speed.
The leading edge is the front part of the fin. The angle of the leading edge is the called rake or sweep. The leading edge will affect how the board turns and pivots and also how fast it releases water. The rake allows a fin to release any weeds that may get stuck on it.
The trailing edge is the back of the fin and it also affects how easily or difficult a board is to turn and pivot. Trailing edges aid in releasing water to a greater or lesser extent, which affects speed. When selecting a fin think about the surface area, type of race and conditions you will be paddling in.
Stand Up Paddle Race Fin Selection
- A large fin that has a wide base and a long leading edge tracks straighter and helps stabilize a board, making it feel less tippy side-to-side and more predictable in choppy water and waves.
- A larger fin may feel sluggish because it creates more drag. It also takes more effort to turn a board since there is more resistance to the flow of water around the fin.
- A small fin with less surface area turns and pivots easier and allows a board to move quickly through the water. However, a small fin does not track as well as a large fin and does not have the added stability benefit in choppy water.
Unlike boards, fins are relatively cheap and many paddlers have the ability to own multiple fins. Find the stand up paddle fin you like best for certain conditions and train with it accordingly. As with most of your equipment selections, an all-around fin that is of medium size is usually a safe bet. Beginners are recommended to move toward a larger fin for the most added benefits.
Choose A Stand Up Paddle Race Fin With These Tips
- Primarily race in flat water races without too much turning
- Desire the added stability of a large fin for choppy conditions
- Have difficulty tracking your board in a straight line
- Racing in downwind conditions where you need to turn to catch bumps
- Course/technical races with many turns
- Surf racing
Choosing a Stand Up Paddle Race Fin Recap
Like a lot of equipment choices, the equipment is not going to win the race for you. However, electing the right equipment can certainly help you succeed. There are a lot of good fins out there but I particularly like the wide selection and performance from VMG Blades. Regardless of which fin you choose, test and practice with different equipment to find the right fit for you.
What kind of SUP race fin do you use? Let us know and join the conversation on the Paddle Society Forum!