Fin systems and which one to use? FCS, FCSII or FUTURES.
Another choice to make when choosing your next custom surfboard.
Written by Laminations surfboards
For many years the original FCS system, now called FCS X-2, has treated us well, with only a couple of drawbacks to mention.
Firstly, the upside to the FCS X-2 system. It is the easiest and cheapest system to use, get fixed and find replacement fins and plugs. Even on your most intrepid of surf trips you’ll find someone that knows how to fix a broken plug. The fin range is also huge with deals all over the internet and as I said at the beginning it has treated us well for a long time.
The possible drawbacks. Surfers with a slightly heavy back foot may have noticed a tendency for the plugs to push up through the deck of the surfboard and occasionally crack the deck laminate, but I must point out that not all surfers or boards suffer this problem and beginners and intermediate surfers will not usually come across this issue at all. This problem is caused by the fact that during installation the plugs are drilled through to touch and connect with the deck of the board, the foam around the plugs being softer than the resin and plastic of the plug compresses under foot and your plugs seemingly rise up through the deck.
The other difference between FSC X-2 plugs and Futures or FCSII is the flex in the fins themselves. Removable fin systems are ultimately trying to duplicate the flex pattern of the original glass on or fixed fins, a strong base with flex towards the tip
With the original FCS X-2 system the fins are attached to the surfboard via 2 relatively small tabs, which are inserted into the plugs. The tabs unfortunately allow the fin to flex at the base.
The new FCSII (FCS2) system has addressed the issues of the original FCS X-2 plugs while adding the keyless, click in click out, fin. Oooh.
The new FCSII has a single, larger, plug per fin, which is set into the blank after shaping. The plugs are fibre glassed over when the main laminates are applied to the surfboard (as are Futures). This gives the fin plugs far more strength in the board and there is no longer a need to connect the plugs to the deck for strength. This cures the issue of plugs rising out the deck.
Another upside is having much more of the fin base in the plug and surfboard, which in turn leads to a better flex pattern reducing flex at the base of the fin.
Now for the keyless part which my hold the only downside that I have come across. The keyless mechanism in the plug is constructed using ‘a corrosion resistant titanium tension rod, and a rotating, wear-resistant polymer barrel’.
When the fin is inserted (with a little force) the spring-loaded barrel within the plug fits with a groove detail in the fin to lock the fin tight into place. This is apparently necessary for even faster fin removal and changes (I’ve never been in that much of a rush personally). But therein lies my only fault. When installing the plugs into the surfboard manufacturers have a 2 to 3mm tolerance in depth for the system to work perfectly, if that is not adhered to there is a slight chance that the fin is not 100% secure. It’s ok though, there is a simple cure. The FCSii fin plugs have holes for the FCS X-2 grub screws (unfortunately the system does not come with screws). Get yourself some FCS screws and your fins are secure. One last advantage with FCSii is that the older FCS fins are still compatible.. as long as you have grub screws!
A good fin system, which as far as I know, is still actually manufactured in the USA.
As with the FCSII system Future fin plugs are installed into the foam blank and fibre glassed over resulting in a strong bond with the surfboard and a lighter plug system than the FCS X-2. The Futures plug has a single slot for the entire base of the fin to be fixed into the board possibly resulting in the best fin flex of them all. The only down side is maybe the length of the plastic plugs and the stiffening affect it has on the tail of the boards, especially on a five fin model, the long footprint of the plugs can lead to cracking in the laminate at the leading or tail edge of the plug which, if not fixed, could lead to some problems.