: three fins ? 1981
Carroll: Three Fins?? - Simon says Thrusttt!
January 1981 Number 124,
First known article featuring this
ground-breaking design, the top photograph shows Simon Anderson and one of his first
Thruster designs, probably made in late 1980, outside of the Energy Surfboards
factory, 43 Carter Road, Brookvale.
Energy Surfboards was started in 1975, after Simon Anderson
had spent 6 years at Shane Surfboards
During this time Shane Steedman
employed a vast stable of surfers and shapers including
Butch and Steven Cooney, Terry
Fitzgerald, Bob Kennerson, both Peter Cornish's, David Baddy
Treloar, and Richard
Over the next twelve months, Simon
rode his new design to victory in the Surfabout at Narrabeen, the Bells Beach Contest in Victoria and the
Pipeline Masters in Hawaii.
The design was quickly adopted by several top Sydney
surfers and shapers and introduced to Victoria by junior
See Dougall Walker : The Tri
1981 Number 128 page 16.
For an in-depth design
retrospective by Simon Anderson, 1971 to 1981, see
Anderson Reflects on a Decade of Shaping Surfboards
Other articles of
interest in this edition include:
Bob McTavish: New Materials
R.C. Pennie: Why
Gays Don't Surf- or do they?
As most people involved in surfing
are aware, Simon Anderson is an awe-inspiring performer in
large, powerful surf; but Anderson's massive frame, so useful in
heavy conditions, often becomes a drawback in the miniscule
dribble that unfortunately many IPS pro events are blessed with.
THREE FINS ??
SAYS ... THRUSSTTT!
Of late many modern surfers have
revived the old late Sixties
"two fins are better than one!"
"three fins are better than two" become the cry
of the Eighties?
design by Simon Anderson suggests this may be
Anderson depends on these events to
maintain his top-ten professional ranking.
A while ago he realized that he had to find some way in which to
balance the odds that seemed stacked against him in comparison
to the superhuman small-wave performances of surfers like M.R.,
Cheyne Horan and Dane Kealoha.
At the Energy Surfboards factory deep in Brookvale's industrial
heart, Anderson went to work in an attempt to find a board that
would aid him in his mission.
The result has been a three- finned
creation which he has proudly named the "Thruster"
(okay, run through all the horrible connotations that have
immediately risen from the dank pits of your grubby little
minds. Better now? Good.)
During the past two years Anderson has tried various (and at the
moment, perhaps more accepted) designs.
He built some twin-fins and used them with some success in waves
under the two-foot mark but found that as soon as the swell grew
any bigger he was forced by the twin-fin's inherent lack of
directional stability to switch back onto a single fin.
This change is not an easy one to make on the spot as the single
fin suddenly feels harder than usual to manoeuvre, relative to
the twin (and of course vice versa). Competition conditions can
change radically and in pro events, where a continual high
standard has to be maintained in heat after heat, the chopping
and changing of surfboards can prove fatal.
Anderson, therefore, put aside the
twin-fins and turned to the "no-nose" concept, a design
popularised by Geoff McCoy that combines an exceptionally narrow
nose and wide tail with deep rolled vees and tail lift.
This design is very loose when surfed solidly from the tail, and
when Anderson drew out a series of flyer squaretails featuring
the basics of the McCoy ideology, he had high hopes for its
However although he found this design effective at first, he
soon saw that he was missing out on the "skating" speed effect
that makes the twin-fin alternative so adaptable in small surf.
Anderson did the logical thing, and thought about a combination
of the two ideas.
He shaped a basic Anderson
version of the no-nose with a slightly wider, heavily
squared-off tail, and fitted two abnormally small, slightly
raked fins into the normal twin-fin positions.
He then ground out an upright little
baby single fin and placed it on the stringer about two inches
up from the end of the tail section.
The resultant Thruster looks rather strange at first sight,
something like an aircraft with landing gear down, but once
having accepted the idea it is easy to see how functional the
Simon himself is pretty low-key in attitude about his designs,
but after using a small Thruster in waves of up to six feet both
in Hawaii and here at home, he is enthusiastic about the
potential of three fins in all conditions.
"I want to work on one that can be
used in the six-to-fifteen- foot range," he says seriously.
"I really like surfing them.
You can surf into situations where twin-fins refuse to go but it
moves as fast or faster than a twinnie speed is just easier to
direct, that's all."
Although he is obviously excited
about the Thruster Simon is quick to point out any drawbacks,
and says that the twin-fin "wobble" factor is still present to a
degree. However it is doubtful that this could be wiped out in
any board that makes use of the twin-fin's good points.
Anybody can be negative about board
design and in the Thruster's case there seems little point in
inventing denigration, especially as Simon is prepared to prove
its worth in the approaching Australian leg of the 1981 pro
Oh, and one more thing for any twin-fin fanatics out there - the
Thruster can also be surfed BACKHAND!
6'2" in length,
20 1/4" wide,
12 1/4" nose,
Single flyer 12" up,
Basic low soft rail with
edge tucked under.
Deep rolled vee in bottom toward tail.
Geoff Cater (2005-2019) :
Nick Carroll : Simon Anderson Thruster, 1981.