While the recent retirement announcement of long time CT standout, big wave tour event winner, aerial maestro and behind any large boat wake surfer, Josh Kerr had most of the surfing world a little bit “what the….!!!” one of the legacies of Kerrzy’s pro career has been his helping introduce to the surfing world 3DFINS and their very original Dimple Technology. Despite Kerrzy’s exit stage right from future WSL events, 3D need not fret too much about lack of a high profile representative, given their “other” alpha male is none other than “Who is JOB?” star, Pipeline Master and North Shore icon, Jamie O’Brien. We’re not sure all the crazy water craft JOB and his buddies risk life and limb on have 3DFINS stuck in them somewhere….but needless to say, when shit gets serious and Pipe, Backdoor, and anywhere else call, he’s giving his 3D Signature Fins the ultimate seal of approval, doing what he does on them! Add to the team Christian Fletcher, QS ripper Hiroto Arai and upcoming grom Kobi Clements and there’s plenty of talented pilots flying on 3D’s super slick blades to keep the good word spreading fast.
Born in a rustic shed and the raw ocean waves of Western Australian, 3DFINS is the end result of years of fin making and research by Courtney Potter. While most elite surfers will attest up to 50% of their boards performance to the fins they choose, fin design and competition has gone through the roof since the days when you got whatever your board maker glassed into the bottom.
While most look at template outlines, materials and flex patterns to maximise performance, looking outside the industry square for something to make a difference to his fins, Courtney took a leaf out of the highly researched gold ball industry – built around maximising distance and control someone can get smashing that little ball around a golf course – applied it to his fin templates, and was instantly amazed by the results, and with that 3DFINS Dimple Technology was born.
Relocated more recently to the long, high performance points of the Gold Coast in Queensland, perfect for their continued development, and working closely over the years and more recently with long time CT standout and Big Wave contest winner Josh Kerr, Pipeline Master Jamie O’Brien, the ever innovative Christian Fletcher, and young shredders Hiroto Aria and Kobi Clements, 3DFINS are covering all bases to deliver exceptional quality and performance fins to suit all conditions and surfers.
You really only have to try them to notice the difference, like cutting through butter with a hot knife, exceptional speed and drive both down the line and going into, throughout and out of turns, the reduction in friction is immediately evident as is he flow and reactiveness, and available in Futures and FCS!
CP: Well to be honest with you I’ve messed around with fins since I was a kid. Me and my mates would make stabilisers for our twin fins, shaping them and trying different and weird things, but I actually got into it fully in a very roundabout way via being an artist and a sculpture. Through that I ended up working in the toy industry in America for a couple of years. By chance one of my mates was an inventor and he designed this four-winged soft indoor boomerang, which he took it to America and it just went nuts. So he was over there designing and making all these flying toys and he needed and artist for various parts of what he was doing…… and I ended up being there at the time, so through that I got to see first-hand through working with him, how a product is developed and made.
From there I went to work with this group of NASA aeronautic engineers, who were designing this plane with these crazy looking wings they had designed, and long story short, they couldn’t come up with the funds to make a full-sized aeroplane, so they made these toy sized prototypes. Through that process they taught me all about the aerodynamics of the design with these wings they had, and how air flowed over and around them, and when the work ended, I came back home but I brought a couple of these toy-sized planes with me. It wasn’t long after being home it dawned on me that these weird looking wings made up of three foils might work as fins, so I made up a mould and poured fibreglass in it, and as soon as I could I put them in a board I had been riding, I got a pleasant surprise!
SL: They were better?
CP: I wouldn’t say better, but it was different and there was definitely something there. So I spent the better part of a 2 years refining and developing these weird looking things, to the point where I had mates ride them who agreed I was onto something, and had Simon Anderson put some in a board, and gave me some really good information on what he thought they needed which was a huge help. Then I worked closely with Dave Macaulay, who basically became my test pilot over in W.A. where I made them in my shed, to the point where he reckoned they were as good if not better than anything out there.
The only problem I had was because of the unusual design, they wouldn’t fit in a regular fin/box setup, and you would have to pretty much make a board to take these fins, which was too big an obstacle, and eventually got us to the point where the business was going to tank.
Ironically though, around that time I went and had a hit of golf with a mate, who I noticed kept hitting these shots that would start over to one side or other, then seem to straighten out the further they went. It got the better of me so I asked him about it and he showed me these balls he was using, that apparently through the dimple pattern on the polar ends creating an axis of sorts, made the ball travel as straight as possible. I was intrigued and checked out the website my mate told me to look up about them, and it was like a lightning bolt went off in my head. I had fins laying around as usual, so I grabbed some and a dremmel and made a dimple pattern on them, threw them in a board and it instantly felt amazing, so I got a guy in to make up a 3D cad design based off a golf ball to apply to a fin, and it went from there.
Once we got some better prototypes fins back I rode them and they felt amazing, my mates rode them and said the same, and luckily around the same time we got some into the hands of Josh Kerr who really liked them. His initial thoughts were they felt like they had no speed limit, like with normal fins he felt like you got to a certain speed and that’s all you get, but ours felt different, so we worked on stiffening them up and getting them sized right for him, and was very keen to put his name on them.
SL: With the amount of money and science that’s gone into making golf balls over a long time to get greater distance and control, it’s kind of amazing it hadn’t been thought of before?
CP: Exactly! Air and water are both considered fluids, but due to water being denser, while happening slower the effects are the same. With that in mind, the foils on fins can stall during turns where the foil loses its effect, and the fin becomes more like a flat plate rather than the foil working as it’s designed. You sometimes notice it three-quarters of the way around a cutback, or sometimes coming off the bottom towards the top, when the drive ceases, and you’re sort of left between turns.
SL: Having a set myself, the thing you immediately notice is they are really fast, especially straight off, and are just smooth with lots of drive right through turns. Is that what you get from most people?
CP: Yeah that’s it, fast, and smooth, but lots of hold and drive when you lay it over off the bottom and reactive off the top. We did extensive CFD (Computer flow dynamics) tests with a specialist from CSIRO the results were surprising to us, and the guy from CSIRO. The dimples reduced drag and increased outward lift (Drive) up to 15%. These are numbers you can feel. Another surprise was they eliminated wing tip vortices, a problem that aircraft wngs have that creates stalling at high angles of attack. Effectively it is the same with fins the high and low pressures created by the foil becomes turbulence at the tip, which translates to the last couple of inches of your fin, the flow actually just sort of flap around or get tangled into a vortice which reduces the performance of the fin dramatically.
That’s where we’ve found the dimple pattern, and even more so with the new channel tips on the J.O.B fins, directs water across the outside off the fins right to the tips creating energy, allowing the inside of the fin to hold pressure and the foils to work at all times, so this makes the foils perform better especially in extreme turns or speeds. Fins are a very sensitive part of the board and small adjustments can be felt even by novice surfers. I say you can’t do this much to a surface with out the effect either being positive or negative, luckily for us its positive.
SL: Speaking of the new J.O.B Templates, how did you get Jamie O’Brien onboard? Gotta say, you couldn’t get a better test pilot to show the fins work in extreme waves and situations?
CP: Too right, he’s amazing, and such a cool guy. It’s funny that we initially heard through the grapevine he’d been seen riding some of the earlier Josh Kerr fins, so I gave him a ring to ask and he said he really like them. So sent him over a batch, not long before he did that ting where he caught a wave at Teahupoo on fire, and the next thing we noticed all these orders coming in for the pink Josh Kerr fins from America which was great, then we found out he had been riding them when he did the stunt!
I ended up contacting him again and he said he was really liking, them and was keen to do a signature fin. This was right about then time I’d been working on the channel tips, and him being a guy who’s into trying everything said yeah send some over. A while later with work carrying on I’d sort of forgotten about it a bit, the next thing he’s in the Pipe Masters getting about a 10 second barrel along the way, then came runner up in the Volcom Pipe Pro, and we found out he was riding he channel tips. I checked him out and he was absolutely loving them, so we put them out in the size he likes, 5.0 as the J.O.B Signature Fin.
SL: He’s obviously always going to be known for Pipe, and being probably being debatable along with John John for the world’s best barrel rider, but seeing the footage he brought out a year or two back from Indo, it’s a pity we don’t see more of him at places like that, showing how insanely good he is as just an all-round, on the face as well as in the barrel surfer.
CP: Oh he’s insane, and it’s been great to work with him. He’s really easy going, and wasn’t at all phased that we were still a relatively smaller company which is awesome.
SL: The riders you have, after starting off with Kerrzy are a radical crew, with Jamie O’Brien, Christian Fletcher, young Japanese QS guy Hiroto Aria (who lit up the net recently catching an insane wedge somewhere in Japan) and you’re working on something with Matt Hoy?
CP: Yep I’m currently working on something for Hoyo.
SL: I imagine with his endless love affair with extra-large hacks, he might go for the channel tips?
CP: No, he actually said to me, with his boards he’s already got enough channels! Haha
At this stage we’re looking at a template for him with the dimples alone, but yeah, another great surfer and a really cool cat. I met him through Christian Fletcher and he wanted to try the fins so it’s worked out well, as with Christian, amazing surfer, lots of good feedback and really great to have on the team.
SL: Sounds like a good crew
CP: Yeah, from starting with Josh, through to the newer guys, they all show how well the fins go for absolute top end surfers….. otherwise they would be riding something else. It’s hard coming out with something different, and actually getting it into people hands to let them see how good it works, but thankfully everyone who has tried and bought a set, that have come back to us love them so we know we’re onto a good thing.
SL: Anything new on the horizon we should keep an eye out for?
CP: There is! I’m currently working with Cheyne Horan on a new fin design, and also with the legendary Akila Aipa (Ben Aipa’s son) to bring the twin fin into the future adding Dimple Technology to one of Akila’s twin fin designs, so yeah, definitely keep an eye out for them!
Check out more below or via their website at www.3dfins.com and go buy a set and tell us what you think!
Click on fins below for more info and the rest of the range!
JAMIE O’BRIEN SIG. SERIES CHANNEL TIP
CHRISTIAN FLETCHER SIGNATURE QUADS
JOSH KERR SIGNATURE “DARKSIDE’ TEMPLATE