If Three’s A Crowd, What is four good for?

By Jody Wood

We’ve seen “Quads” popping up lately in magazine photographs, a few pros riding them, and some of the guys from around the shop are stoked on them lately. They are boards with four fins, two larger side fins and two smaller rear fins. They differ from a “twinzer” in that the two smaller fins are positioned behind and between the side fins, closer to the tail of the board, rather than beside the side fins, along the rail. The quad fin set up isn’t exactly a new concept. It’s been around for years and in some regions remains the standard fin placement on most boards.

“Quads” pretty much fell off the face of the earth in competitive surfing with the design of the tri-fin, but surfers have a way of revisiting the past sometimes in search of something missed along the way. Maybe with hopes to improve upon it, or just ride something not everybody in town rides.

Larry Ricci and Robin Prodanovich, both South Coast shapers and designers, recently got together to revamp some designs and get some new school quads on the racks and in the hands of local surfers. We talked to Larry about the designs and here’s how that went down.

Quad fin set ups seem to be making a comeback as of late. What’s with the recent popularity?

“Surfboard design will always continue at its own pace in adherence to what surfers are willing to accept. It usually takes a bit of mainstream validation from a prominent surfer/shaper relationship for a design to gain enough popularity for more and more shapers to create their own versions. The quad fin has been around a long time and, if they are designed right, work great in a wide variety of conditions.”

What kind of feeling do you get from a quad, as opposed to a tri-fin or twin fin set up?

“Less drag and a more positive feel when turning hard on rail. You can ride higher on the wave, draw different lines, and push harder off the bottom, especially backside, without worrying about losing your grip and spinning out. You can change direction quicker, without as much tail pressure. It frees up your surfing.”

Talk about the different board types you have shaped with quad set ups.

“The quad-fin concept can be applied to any surfboard design. It has been proven to work in one foot slop and thirty foot open ocean waves. Here at South Coast, Robin Prodanovich and I have recently designed quad-fin hulls for small to medium size fish, performance short boards, mid-size hybrids and eggs. We are always fine tuning, as there are many ways to utilize the quad-fin set up.”

With the birth of the tri-fin, many thought the quad was obsolete. Is it the change in board design over the years that helped bring it back?

“As time goes by, proven contemporary design concepts can be blended with older, previously unpopular ideas to produce something fresh, new, and thought provoking. Look at how many shapers have embraced the quad-fin set up and are eager to develop their own designs.”

What kind of feedback are you getting from surfers that you have shaped custom quads for?

“The feedback has been very positive, detailed, and unsolicited. They are eager to tell us about how the boards work and the fun they are having. The boards are loose when they want them to be, they have drive when they need it, and they ride well in the pocket and out on open faces. It’s very inspiring.”

If someone would like to try one, or order a custom, what do they need to do?

“We have a few demo models available now, and are currently building more to offer a wider variety to surfers who are interested in riding one. If a surfer wants to order one, give me a call. I’d be happy to walk them through the process.”