The Thruster Setup
The thruster setup utilizes three equally sized fins on the bottom of the surfboard. It offers surfers a combination of stability and drive. Thrusters blend the maneuverability of twin fins with the hold of single fins to create a new type of performance.
The thruster setup can be arranged a few ways. The most common is to have three equal sized fins set up in a triangular pattern with the center one closest to the back of the board. The two side fins are placed about a foot from the tail and an inch from the rail. The center fin is typically a double foiled fin while the two side fins are asymmetrically foiled with the flat side on the inside. They will both point slightly inward towards the nose of the board.
The thruster setup is strong in a wide range of conditions. It holds well in steep and barreling conditions and has been the standard for high performance surfing for the past 25 years. The thruster allows for vertical surfing which has opened the door for above the lip and aerial maneuvers.
The thrusters main setback is that the fins create a lot of drag when the board is heading in a straight line. In order to make good use of a surfboard with a thruster setup, the board needs to be on rail, turning constantly.
The thruster fin setup is praised for its strength in a wide range of conditions. You can use it in 2ft conditions on your longboard or in 20+ ft conditions on a gun. It allows you to make use of all sorts of boards and to ride them to the fullest of their ability.
The thruster setup is versatile and strong in a wide range of conditions. It combines stability, drive and maneuverability to produce what has been one of the favorite fin setups of the past quarter century. It allows for vertical surfing and higher performance maneuvers but requires the surfer to be constantly turning on rail to reduce drag. The thruster has been the favorite fin setup of hobbyists and pros alike and will likely continue to be a staple of surfing for years to come.