Retractable Fin Design

I got the idea for the retractable fin set up while I was on a sailing trip. I joined a boat that was doing the Baja Haha sailing race, which is a race that starts in San Diego and ends in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. We caught a tuna fish, and our captain, a photographer, was taking close up shots of the fish while inspecting it. As he was taking photos he said, “Wow, look at how hydrodynamic the fin of this fish is”. And that is when a light went on in my head. This fish has a dent in the side of its body that allows the fin to go within its body. This makes it possible for the fish to use its fin to change direction, but also have the option to retract its fin within its body so that it can swim faster. And I thought, why not do that with surfboards?

I definitely have geeked out to the blogs that the Wegener brothers post to see what kind of finless shapes they’re coming up with. But since the retractable fin setup is a new concept, I am still in the process of figuring out a shape that will work well with and without fins. I’m excited about the next shapes that I have in mind.

The system is set up with two locking mechanisms on both sides of the fin that keep the fins temporarily in place while riding the wave. The fin has a string connected to it, that leads to your thigh. So the surfer can pull the fins out at any time while surfing on a wave.

You just ride the board like you would ride any other type of board that has fins, and choose a section of the wave where you would like to go finless. It is so fun to race down a wave as fast as you can with fins and then retract them to do whatever finless maneuver you want to do. It is a totally unique sensation.

After testing it out, there are definitely going to be some changes with the next board. The fins need to be made with a soft rubber on its sharpest parts, so that the surfer doesn’t get cut up when the fins are retracted…amongst other things.

– Nathan Mehring

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