Just how good is the new H4 fin? We sent a set each to some of the leading voices within the surf community to get their take on it. Here is their response:
"FCS Just Released The Most Premium Progressive Fins Of The Last Decade"
They look out there to the conservative surf mind, but that's because we've been brainwashed into thinking what we know a fin should look like. We'd advise investing in something that makes you go fast 'n smile.
The ethos behind the fresh FCS H4 is balancing the enduring surf wager of how to achieve maximum speed whilst also providing apt control. The H4 set, in extreme layman's terms, lets the centre skeg take handle the control element, whilst the side fins handle the speed; the hatchet job tips adding a little extra control to deal with the drive. And, as the cherry on top of the pie for those of us concerned with aesthetics is they look deadly as sin, and come with the much appreciated, Victorinox-conjuring "Swiss Made" stamp.
When it comes to investing in design, FCS have clearly ticked all the boxes. Switzerland seems like a good place to revolutionise rudder design—logic would suggest that if you can make a good watch, you can make a good fin. Using software to measure water displacement (rather than relying solely on the "Yeah, nah, nah, nah, goes pretty good ayy" from team riders) also seems sensible. And, filling your crack innovation team with handsome surf nerds also gets the royal seal of approval. Seems reasonable to assume that guys with hi-tech degrees would push fin design furthest.
- Stab Magazine
"FCS’s New H4 Fin Set Is Scary Good"
This is a very high quality fin set. Better than any of the previous H-series fins, that’s for sure. They suit high performance craft and power surfing at speed, everything happens cleaner and quicker”
An “invisible” feel. This I always identify with a good fin set — when you can’t feel the fin set dragging, when you only feel the fins in turning pressure when they’re fully engaged. When you’re not pressuring them, they’re not there. Very fast reactions. No resistance to the start of a turn, no hang-ups in a turn’s mid-section or finish. Recoveries clean and simple. All that stuff happened with great speed and snap and with no delay. This I felt was also good, I hate fin delay. I really felt this most when riding the Creature, which is made to turn at speed, and turn quick, without hesitation. The H4s let it do its thing and added a tiny zingy feel here and there, as the materials released the flex.
Not even a lil bit of slide. This was especially obvious in the Leaf, whose forward fin set-up had often caught me out. Having a forward set on a shorter board is a kind of battle. Pressure on the tail area behind the back fin can lead to slide, and had done so a few times, despite me sticking in bigger back fins and all that jazz. Nothing quite seemed to fit, but the H4s just clicked with the board, bringing out its inner fast-twitchiness and somehow defeating that tendency to slide. This might just be a fluke via the back fin being tilted back from the base more than your average, but whatever. It worked.
- Coastalwatch (Nick Carrol)
"The H4 is more like a rock concert playing underneath your board – they definitely demand your attention."
Do you want a fin you can slot in and forget about or do you want something that offers a wildly different sensation and might make you feel like you’ve never surfed better?
I rode the fins in a range of conditions on a series of different boards. At their best, the fins did everything the pitch said they would and offered a pronounced sensation of speed, power and control. It’s easier for a fin-template to zone in on one of the above elements but to find synergy between all three is quite an accomplishment and the H-4, when it hits a sweet spot, certainly achieves this. There were certainly a couple of waves on the H-4’s where I kicked out buzzing with a notion that I had never surfed better (which is not necessarily saying much but it sure felt good). When loaded up the fins delivered that exhilarating ‘shot out of a rocket’ down the line speed.
Often such acceleration can make control difficult. You don’t want a drag car when you are trying to go around corners, but the fin definitely handled the velocity when you laid it over and committed to a turn. As suggested in the introduction when they are engaged the fins have a whole lot going on, but you have to be prepared to explore the possibilities and accept that things may feel a little different at first. The main criteria for finding the Goldilocks zone (where everything feels right) on the H-4 is making sure you load the fin up. They are stiffer and more rigid than your average fin and they need to be pushed so that they push back.
Think of a diving board; it’s not going to release its potential energy and deliver spring unless it is flexed by someone who knows how to load it up.
- Tracks Magazine (Luke Kennedy)
SurFebruary is a fun annual event in February, where participants raise money for cancer research by catching a wave or getting in the water every day – rain, hail or shine.
This episode sees Rich catch up with Mick Fanning on his recent trip to the US to chat about what he’s been riding, the development of his iconic fin template and how he came to embrace the FCS II system.