SAN DIEGO — Australian surfboard hardware company Fin Control Systems may add an advanced material to its fast-selling line of removable fiberglass-nylon fins.
The existing system contrasts with the industry standard, molded-in-place fins. The easy-to-replace fins feature set screws that lock in factory-embedded thermoplastic plugs.
The existing system is lightweight, highly maneuverable in the water and changeable among 10 templates, Tyler Callaway, San Diego-based director of U.S. operations, said in an interview at the Action Sports Retailer expo, held Sept. 5-7 in San Diego. ``The real advantage is that surfers can adapt boards to different surf conditions by changing fins.''
``We are working on new materials including carbon fiber, polyurethane and acrylic,'' Callaway said. He displayed a new ``stiffer, lighter'' K-fin that world champion surfer Kelly Slater designed for the firm's next-generation model.
Fin Control Systems said the K-fin has ``higher acceleration, higher top speed [and] more drive out of turns.''
Custom injection molder C. Brewer Co. in Anaheim, Calif., has made the fiberglass model, which is filled with 50 percent nylon type 6/6, for two years. Michael Brewer, vice president of the molder, expects orders to mold the new model.
Fin Control Systems introduced the original line in Australia and gained rapid acceptance in Hawaii. It claims to hold at least a 60 percent share in each market.
Callaway estimated Fin Control's share of the U.S. market has doubled within the past six months to more than 10 percent. He said about 350,000 surfboards are produced in the United States each year and another 150,000 elsewhere.
Based in Monavale, Australia, Fin Control Systems employs 100 worldwide, anticipates 1997 sales of $2.5 million and has invested five years developing the product line.
Board maker Roger Baltierra said, ``Kids are saying they are faster.''
He compared development of the FCS fins to a cycle ``like when the single-fin box came out in the '70s.''
Baltierra, owner of Baltierra Surfboards in Costa Mesa, Calif., makes 100 boards a month and ships 30 percent to Japan, Taiwan, Mexico and Brazil. Removable fins ease shipping requirements, he said.