Fin Sciences’ story began a couple of decades ago. I sailed as part of an America’s Cup team for awhile in the 1980s, with Dennis Conner, a top sailor at the time. The America’s Cup is the Superbowl of sailboat racing. The following year, we lost the America’s Cup to the Australians because they had a secret weapon–SCIENCE! The Aussies used winglets on their keel, got better performance, and ended the 152-year American winning streak.
A couple of decades later, out surfing off of Coronado, California, I had a messed up shoulder from messing up while snowboarding, and I got to thinking I could catch waves more easily if only my fin were a little bit smaller and had a bit less drag. But I knew that I might end up spinning out if I made it too small.
Then I got to thinking: AHA! In sailing we used smaller keels with winglets to solve this problem–winglets make smaller keels act as though they are larger. In the case of airplanes, winglets make wings behave as though they’re 25% to 30% larger than they really are, and the same thing goes for surfboard fins. In other words, with winglets you get the hold of a large fin with the smaller drag and greater speed of a small fin–the best of both worlds–a small fin that acts like a big fin.
So I used my science and naval architecture background to design surfboard fins based on modern science. I went through a gazillion prototypes, broke lots of them in the process, and came up with what became known as the Wavegrinder longboard fin. The name “Wavegrinder” came from the way bashing the lip of a wave is kind of like grinding a curb on a skateboard. We later decided to change the company name to more closely align with what we’re about: Fin Sciences.
I have since created a couple of shortboard fins that we offer in various flexibilities because some surfers prefer stiff fins, and others prefer semi-flex fins. We plan to offer other models to fit other boards, and are actively seeking investors interested in the project.
We’ve enjoyed excellent feedback from surfers all over the world who’ve tried the fins, and I appreciate all you folks who’ve written to me to say you are thrilled to pieces with them. We love hearing from you!