Mast Surfboards. The shaper says about this board, “Down the line it feels like a displacement hull but when you step back turns with the ferocity of a fish, without the wiggle.”
The result was 6’7″ with nice hips toward the tail, perfect and a lot curvier that any replica would be and how we love those lines.
Beautiful tapered nose, not too much width . . . just enough.
Big hips with slight bulge in tail, this tail is very unique and the lines are epic.
Thin light nose with harmonious rail line.
Here is where it gets really good, look at that single concave sculpture—love it.
For more info see Mast Surfboards here.
Fins are way over rated—especially on a Mini Simmons.
My take has always been smaller and lower with fins on the Mini but Tom Wegener has taken the ‘less fin argument’ a few steps forward in his almost fin-less chinned vacuum creation.
Tom Wegener, shaper of the year in Australia, says he got the idea from the rails on a boogie board with “chinned vacuum rails.” He then accentuated the fin set-up with tiny little pegs—forget the keels on this design.
Essentially the idea is that the built-in chinned rail acts as a fin through the length of the board giving some stability through turns and maneuvers.
In fact, this rail replaces the necessity for the traditional keel fin set-up and allows the surfer to pull off radical 360 style maneuvers with ease (see video below).
More on Tom Wegener here.
This is a resource guide to understanding Mini Simmons fin placement. Before we get started on how and where to place your Mini Simmons fins lets do a quick review of fin dynamics.
Basic fin placement characteristics that will influence your ride include the following:
Min Spread Cluster
A Mini Simmons in many ways goes against convention fin placement basics.
What does that mean?
Well, a spread out fin cluster will result in a longer turning arc—definitely a characteristic of most Mini Simmons surfboards. However, the spread out fin placement is traditionally used on longer boards and is made for waves with speed and power. This is why it’s sometimes difficult to snap a Mini off-the-top or made a quick mid face cutback.
In contrast a compacted fin cluster produces shorter turning arcs, you could try it on a Mini but I’ve never seen anyone do it, could be an interesting experiment.
*MSS Recommended Fin: two glass-on keel fins placed near to rail and tail
Fin Distance From Rail & Tail
A good place to start is to place your rear fin base one inch from the tail and one inch from the rail. The further back you place your fins the more drive you’ll get from the placement.
However, you are going to get lots of opinions on this one, but I like my Mini fins close to the tail (maybe 1/2 inch) and close to the rail (around 1 inch at the base). A more forward fin setup will be looser and have a short turning radius. The further back you place the fins, the tighter the hold and the longer slopping turns you’ll be able to perform—think snowboard carving.
You’ll likely want to play with fin distance to tail and rail as you shape more boards, altering the fin cluster dimensions can really impact total design characteristics—which is the fun of surfboard shaping.
*MSS Recommended Measurement: 1′ off tail + 1′ off rail (rear fin base measurements)
Fin tow is the percentage of tweak you give the fins off the 90 degree mark towards the stringer. The more tow you give, the looser a board feels in a turn. However, that tow comes at a cost because more tow equates to more drag while going down the line. Think about it, if you have two straight lines (or fins) moving forward in the water there is very little resistance (aka speed). Add an angle to that straight line and the water flow is disrupted—until you engage a turn, that’s where you need that tow to divert your forward energy into a new direction.
So that being said you want to find a balance between straight line speed and angled redirection. Unless you plan on just going straight. If you are shaping a board for a beginner you don’t need to worry about dialing in the exact tow. But if you put in too much tow you’ll find it hard to turn a board and the increased drag will make it slog in the water. (Slog = slow hog).
I recommend just a tad of tow, just enough to make sure your turns are fluid but not too much that you’ll be dragging your ass down the line.
*MSS Recommended Measurement: 1/4 inch of tow or at place 85 degrees.
The fin cant is the ‘lean’ of the fin off 90 degree center. More cant, leaning away from the stringer, will give a board less drive and projection out of turns and less cant offers the opposite.
Cant is the angle it makes in relation to the bottom of the surfboard. A fin that sticks straight up, perfectly perpendicular to the board’s base contour, is said to have a no cant. Canted fins point outwards, toward the rails of the board. Increasing the fins’ cant leads to a more responsive board through turns, while decreasing the cant (bringing it closer to 90°) makes the board faster, especially when traveling in a straight line.
I wasn’t a big proponent of cant on a Mini until recently when I rode one with about 4 degrees of cant. That ‘canted’ board really performed well and was a blast to ride. You’ll have to make up for the cant with a little more volume to help compensate for the extra drag created by the more dynamic angles.
*MSS Recommended Measurement: 2-4 degrees
The most interesting thing about tail design is the impact that it has on both speed and maneuverability (how you turn).
The tail is where all the aft energy is released.
The tail is you slicing surface on a turn, it either creates more resistance or facilitates flow.
A fish tail, aptly defined, will help you push water more easily through a turn.
Think of it this way, next time you are in the sea put your hand under water with your fingers together and make a sweeping movement, you’ll notice lots of resistance.
Do that same movement with your finger spread “Spok Style”, you’ll notice much more ease and fluidity. That same principle applies to surfboard tails.
The other thing to consider is that increased surface area in the tail, such as a classic mini squash, will be faster down the line. However, the extra surface area will slow you down in turn.
Let’s take a look at tails in more detail to understand what we want for our Mini.
In order to understand how a tail design affects a surfboard, we have to consider the mechanics of tail hydro-dynamics. It boils down to the fact that a more angular or knifelike shape will allow you to make sharper pivotal turns. Conversely, with a rounder surfboard tail shape you’ll obtain smoother and glider turns. Contemplate the surfing of Kelly Slater versus Joel Tuder’s and you get the idea.
Surfboard tail shape influences the grasp and release on the surface of the wave. Picture how water flows off the back of the board. Water is syrupy and follows the lines of the board. Curves hold water flow whereas corners allow water to break away and be free. Hence, curves can slow a board, and angles can increase the flow or speed of the water.
Think of a big wave gun and a longboard. The sharp nose on a gun allows for fast entry and the rounded nose of a longboard facilitates a slow and stable take off. Visualize the same two boards and think about their tails, a pin tail will hold the water longer and make it more stable in bigger surf and a square edged tail will release water making it looser and snap happy.
Pin tails are best for tracking and control. Imagine skipping down the face of a bomb at Puerto Escondido, you need to control your speed and draw a fast and straight line to make it through critical sections or you’ll get slammed like a Hulk Hogan takedown. Less surface area will cause the tail to sink or bite into the wave. You won’t be surfing your Mini at Puerto, you’d want to grab a board with a needle tail, something that holds tight in the pocket and isn’t made for quick turns.
More surface area equates to more lift and a rounded tail is just a pin with a wider arch. The added surface area allows for more speed in slow sections and lifts the rear of the board a tad—did you say stomp it! A round tail is best for big, fast , hollow waves where you need a bit more maneuverability than a pin but not so much that you’re going top to bottom. A round tail doesn’t quite jib with the Mini design so we’ll skip this one too.
The squash surfboard tail gets us closer to where we want to be when we think of a tail for a Mini Simmons because it allows for the most surfing versatility. The squash tail is the most common tail on the market, the square edge allows for quick release, giving the surfer responsive and loose turns. More surface area means more lift down the line, giving you speed and planability (sic). The wider the tail the more lift, that extra speed can help you get through flat sections of the wave and explains why big fat tails on the Mini Simmons do so well in mushy conditions.
The swallow tail is your classic fish tail, it’s really like two tails in one, offering a nice balance between speed and control. The swallow tail construction allows the shaper to create much wider shapes nose to tail, giving the surfer a very different experience. The upside-down “V” (the section between both tail points) allows for bite and control when making turns. It also gives the water a release point, but remember that when in a turn the pin on the opposite side of the turn must disengage before the tail can reengage on the other pin to pivot. This is why a swallow tail is sometimes hard to turn and will bog out if you hit a flat section in your cutback, that far pin just won’t disengage and can be like dragging an anchor through a Florida swamp. However, the swallow does allow for a much wider tail section and more surface area means more speed. Thus if you want to maintain your potential for speedy turns, grab a board with a shallower “V”.
The surfboard square tail is the grandfather of all tails. The square tail is like a knify squash, the corners of a square tail dig into a wave while turning and allow pivotal turns. Less curve in the rail means there is more stability. These are old school designs and aren’t used much anymore, except on longboards.
Mini Simmons Tail
I personally like a Mini tail that is somewhere between a square tail and a squash tail, the extra surface area is really going to give you some extreme speed through flat sections and the knifey rails will help you dig long curves into the face. I have also been experimenting with a slight outside “V” on the rear rail to help improve water flow—I’ll keep everyone posted on how that develops.