I recently shaped a Tri-Fin surfboard for my mate Darren in Australia, the Retro “Sidewinder” model, which is an updated rendition of an idea developed almost 45 years ago with Dick Brewer. By coincidence (or providence?) Drew Kampion just recently sent me a copy of a Surfer article published in April 1971, 6 or 7 months after I first started riding a three-finned surfboard in 1970. In those 44 years since its inception, that basic Tri-Fin design is an industry standard as the 2+1 fin system in modern longboards and other current surfboard designs. Along with the Campbell Brothers groundbreaking Bonzer design of that same time period this pre-empted the development of Simon Andersons three-finned Thruster design by at least a decade. The Retro “Sidewinder” model is designed to carry on this tradition of innovation.
“The tri-fin has single-fin drive and twin-fin torque. It is a compromise of each with elimination of hang-ups.”
One + Two = Free
Or The Tri-Fin Trip by Drew Kampion | Originally published in SURFER 12/3 ~ August 1971
The surfing of Reno Abellira is a COORDINATED fusion of ability, knowledge, and style. It is a blend of the animal and the aesthetic; and, as a result, it is art.
Reno surfs in the long strides of a surfer conditioned by twelve years on Island waves. Long strides consisting of the driving, accelerating drop-in, the low, deep bottom turn, and the unweighted draw of the long line across a CONTINUALLY hollowing wall. Long strides repeated again and again, though not duplicated, allowing the wave to dictate the course.
Reno employs many of the classic Hawaiian mannerisms: leading his turns with his arms, maintaining a low center of gravity through power pockets, and keeping the bottom of the board MOVING from rail to rail, maintaining a flexible track. “Constantly changing planing angles of board and wave contours are partly responsible for the fast and tight actions that earmark much of today’s surfing,” as Reno puts it.
Reno began riding a Dick Brewer-shaped three-finned board six months ago [October 1970; this story was written in April 1971 – dk]. He’s still riding the same board, a six-two, though he has altered the fin arrangement several times over the months. “The tri-fin,” says Reno, “has single-fin drive and twin-fin torque. It is a compromise of each with elimination of hang-ups.”
This board seems to work very well for Reno, giving him an extra positive force off the bottom and also the ability to ride higher in the curl because of the tracking of the inside fin along the face of the wave. It also makes tighter pivoting turns possible; and, paradoxically almost, controlled spin-outs are easier to achieve. “An extended controlled spin-out,” Reno says, “is a three-sixty.”