THE RETURN OF THE SINGLE FIN…?

What goes around comes around. Are single fin wave boards about to have a resurgence? We sent Adrian Jones to find out if Angulo’s new flagship wave model the Triumph (single fin) is going to buck the trend of multifins…

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Volume: 81 litres

Length: 231cm

Max width: 57cm

Tail width (@30cm): 38.4cm

Weight bare: 6.76kg

Weight complete: 7.6kg

Wave fin: US box 24cm

For several years, it’s been pretty much impossible to buy a dedicated single-fin wave board. Sure, you could buy a thruster and use it as a single, but in terms of brands who were willing to put their faith fully behind a single fin concept, well, they’ve been pretty much non-existent. But for 2016 are we perhaps starting to see a glimmer of the trusty single fin making a return…

Both Quatro and Angulo have introduced new single fin models to their range, with Angulo heralding theirs as their flagship wave model in the form of the Triumph.

Triumph Mauritius #1

First impressions

As we found when we recently reviewed Angulo’s CV-1, the new Angulo boards look fresh and impressively high on quality. They have decent straps, pads, G10 fins and very respectable hull weights. And that statement holds true even before we consider the price, which is ludicrously cheap compared with the rest of the market.

The Triumph weighs in at 7.6kg’s complete, which to put some perspective on things, is very good. Fanatics Tri-fin and Quad 81 weigh in at 7.25kg and 7.48kg respectively.

Looking at the dimensions, the Triumph is relatively long and gunny compared with most current wave boards, but sports a wider than average tail width (38.4cm).

A 24cm G10 single fin is provided with a US style box fitting which allows plenty of scope for adjustment. Be clear here that there are no thruster options, this is an all out single-fin wave board. For those who have had their head buried in the sand for the past couple of decades, Josh Angulo is a multiple World wave Champion and despite being one of the very first to ride multi-fins, has long been an advocate for the single fin. In fact, it’s fair to say he loves them. And it seems that Jesus loves you too because that’s what it says on the bottom of the board (I’m not kidding!). Mmmm….

Anyway, one thing we were not loving so much was the size of the single fin provided with the board. 24cm is just too big for any kind of wave performance unless you are either 1. Massive or 2. In onshore conditions with 5.5m + sails and light winds. Angulo obviously pre-empted this because they sent us a 22.5cm back-up fin, which we used the whole time whilst testing the board. So our advice if you are buying a Triumph is to use some of that money you saved on the purchase price to buy yourself a 22cm fin. We found the fin worked best near the front of the box, helping to loosen up the boards turning abilities.

The mast track also gives plenty of scope for tuning and we found that worked best just behind middle for most conditions.

Triumph Maui #3

On the water

I have to confess, it’s probably been 4 years since I last sailed a single fin wave board and since the advent of the multi-fin and the extra dimension they brought to turning on a wave, I can’t say that I have ever looked back.

But getting on the Triumph is an instant wake-up call to just how far the paths of multi-fins and single fin wave boards have separated when it comes to straight line performance.

I am so used to sailing multi-fins, that the sudden acceleration, locked in feel and perhaps most noticeably, the smoothness of the ride came as quite a surprise. Multifins, generally ride lower in the water, with less grip in the fins, which ultimately gives them a ‘choppier’ ride. The single fin flies off the tail, with more of the board out of the water and this gives it a very smooth and gliding feel.

In cross-on shore conditions, the Triumph is dynamite for jumping. Accelerating fast from wave to wave, making good progress upwind, and lining up easily for the jump ramps with plenty of pop off the top. The narrower, gunny outline also gives it control (and lift) in the air. The Triumph provides a very convincing reminder of just how good single fins are for this kind of sailing.

To be fair though, comparing acceleration and jumping is taking the strongest point of the single fin and pitching it against the weakest point of the multifin. The second part of the picture is of course how well the board will turn on a wave face…

I’d like to be able to answer that in a word, but I can’t as it’s a bit more complex than that! What the Angulo does well is accelerate, and grip with a real smoothness to the turn. Bottom turning hard with full commitment in bigger, faster waves, is where it is at it’s best and most competitive.

Where the Triumph is at its weakest against multi-fins is in smaller, softer and slower waves and with less committed turning techniques. A good multi-fin will turn on a sixpence with the twitch of a toe. The Triumph takes more effort to initiate the turn and won’t turn on such a tight radius. In fact, whereas on multi-fins you are usually trying to generate and carry as much speed as possible through the turn without worrying too much about turning tight (as the board does this easily), on the Triumph its almost the opposite. The board carries loads of speed (to the point that sometimes you are slowing it down so as not to out run the wave) and instead your focus is on trying to get the tightness of turn out of the board.

Similarly, in the top turn, a good multifin will hack a turn right back on itself with ease, even off a rounded piece of swell. The Triumph however really needs to hit the breaking section to get a decently tight top turn. Trying to carve a top turn on an open face really exposed the limitations in carving of the Triumph compared to the snappier, looser feeling multi-fins. It’s also not great at changing the arc of the turn, mid turn. Good multifins, lend themselves to adjusting your turning arc to make up for poor timing or a less predictable wave. The Triumph however wants to be set into the turn and then driven hard.

This is similarly true when turning with a lot of power in the rig (ie when over powered). The multifin boards are a lot easier to snap a quick turn out of in onshore, overpowered conditions, whereas the Triumphs turning technique is more of a process, that requires a beginning, middle and end and that’s harder to do when the sail is over powering you.

That said, in lighter conditions, some people may find multi-fins overly responsive and slow and enjoy the more easy-going and faster nature of the Angulo.

Overall, it’s a completely different style of turning and I don’t think anyone can tell you which is best specifically for you. Ex World wave Champion Josh Angulo will tell you to go single fin, but World Champions Philip Koester, Kauli Seadi and Thomas Treversa will undoubtedly tell you to go multi-fin!

I think the best advice is to first work out how much wave riding vs jumping you are going to be doing. If you are biased a lot more towards jumping, then the Triumph should be a serious consideration because it is one of the best jumping boards around at the moment. If you are leaning more towards wave riding, then you need to decide what you want from your board.

If you are either learning to wave ride, looking for a smoother feel board that isn’t hypersensitive underfoot, but at the expense of tighter turning, or you are a pro level rider who’s wave timing is spot on and looking for that single fin reliability and drive, then there is no doubt the Triumph is a great board.

If however, you want a more playful, tight turning, responsive feeling board, then you will probably want to steer towards a multi-fin. It’s your call!

Triumph Mauritius #2

Overall

The Triumph is a modern take on the single fin. If you haven’t sailed a single fin for a while, you should! It might just remind you how good they are for jumping and general all-round smoothness underfoot.

For stand-alone jumping performance, the Triumph has got to be one of the best boards on the market right now. It’s fast, accelerates well, pops easily off the wave, with a smooth, ‘locked-in’ takeoff and has stacks of control in the air.

On the wave face, it’s a matter of personal preference. The Triumph is smooth, fast and forgiving, but doesn’t turn with the same ease, responsiveness and tightness that a good multi-fin offers. That said, the virtues of a good single fin shouldn’t be ignored and the Triumph is a convincing reminder of what you could be missing out on.