22 years ago, Western Australia-based shaper Darryl Wilkes had a shaping epiphany: what if the thruster isn’t the ceiling in surfboard fin design and technology?
What if a new fin could deliver vertical lift in addition to lateral lift, and so is quicker to plane which gets you to optimum speed faster and is maintained for much longer?
What if you just brought the three fins of the thruster together into one single unit and reduce the pivot circle so you can drive more quickly off your back foot?
What if ultimately, a fin could drive the performance of the board, not the other way around?
These changes, Darryl hypothesized, would give the rider more lift and drive, more freedom, more fun, and introduce a whole new, exciting experience for even the most seasoned surfer.
So he promptly set about designing a prototype in his shaping bay, bringing three large fins together to make an all-in-one super fin. Made from carbon and fibre-glass and connected to the board into his own 8” sliding box, it was soon ready for a test surf.
Paddling into the swell at Secret Harbour in Fremantle (Western Australia), Daz knew this evolution of the fin could change the way the world surfed forever.
One problem - it just went nuts! It had SO much speed and lift that it literally left the water! While it had no problem holding in, it slipped, slid sideways and was way too pivoty. This made it difficult to control but he thought it still had, ‘something’, something exciting.
A life does, time went by, Daz literally shelved the idea, hanging his fin on the wall in his showroom to use as a hat rack! And there it would stay until August 2013, Francine had entered his life.
Two decades on, it would take the loving encouragement of Darryl’s new wife Francine to convince him to take another look at his groundbreaking idea.
Taking up surfing herself at the tender age of 49 years with her 15 year old daughter in 2011, Francine says she knew Daz was onto something as soon as she saw it: “it was so out there, bringing the two side fins together off the centre fin at the base.. it just made sense”. “It made so much sense, it was practically revolutionary”.
Buoyed by Francine’s enthusiasm and insistence that he ‘go and fix it’, Daz’s passion for his innovative design was reignited. Within 10 months, Daz had worked through 14 evolutions tested and refined in Exmouth, Yardie Creek, Margaret River, Noosa and Bali would then become known as the Quantum fin or Q-fin.
This time, when his board hit the waves with the Q-fin in tow, Daz’s vision was finally realised: it really worked. Gripping the face of the wave and slicing through its face was like nothing his team had ever experienced. Out there, just a little drop in a big ocean, Daz finally understood the magnitude of his design: he was about to change surfing forever.