Tech talk: thruster vs. quad fin setup


In these Tech-Talk videos we will answer all your board related questions. From deck pads to different types of kite surfboard constructions. Ask your questions via social media or send us an email. We will answer them in our next videos!

Fin setups on a kite surfboard

We regularly get questions about fin setups on a kite surfboard. Our Malus Domestica, for example, has a five fin setup. But do you have to use all five fin boxes to get the best out of your board? And what exactly is the difference between a quad setup and a thruster fin setup? Check out the video to get your questions answered!

Don’t feel like watching a video or would you rather read anyway? Below the video is a summary of what is told in the video.

Thruster vs. quad fin setup

Welcome to another episode of Appletree’s tech talk videos. In these videos we answer your questions about the technical aspects of our surfboards. This time we’ve got a question from Peter. He asked us: Should I use a quad or a thruster fin setup? 

5 fin boxes

I prepared this little demonstration set up for you guys. These are both 5’2 Malus Domestica boards. The Malus Domestica comes with 5 fin boxes, therefore we get this question quite a lot. Which setup is the best fit for you? Do you use 5 fins? No! So, you either use a 4 or a 3 fins setup. And the main difference in kitesurfing is that the 3 fins will give you more stability and more control. Especially in bigger surf it’s nice to have the 3rd fin for stabilization and control. The board is designed for a quad setup, that’s why the tail of this board is fairly wide. This means that the wider the tail the less control you will get out the of the fin in the middle. It actually doesn’t do that much anymore.


Upwind ability

With kitesurfing you have one thing that makes a big difference compared to normal surfing, which is that you have to go upwind. A board’s upwind ability in normal surfing is not relevant. However in kitesurfing it’s highly important. With the quad fin setup, you move the surface that the fins cover closer to the rail of the board. When you’re hanging on one rail trying to ride upwind this extra surface will help you to go upwind a bit more. That’s an important thing to understand about a quad fin setup on strapless kiteboards.

The pivot point of the board

Another thing to know is that when you have a quad setup board the two quad fins are actually a little bit more forward than the 1 back fin, which moves the pivot point of the board a little bit more forward and this makes the board a little bit loser when riding it. For the Malus Domestica this is very nice, because you get this very loose skateboarding feel. However, when you aim to use it for bigger surf this looseness feel translates into more hectic feel. Therefore, in order to make the Malus Domestica more versatile for different kind of conditions we put in the 5 fin boxes to make it possible for the rider to choose which fin setup is the best fit for them.

Does it help the performance?

In some of the other models that we use, you can see that there is only a 3-fin setup because those boards are mainly designed as a thruster board. We do this, since adding a quad fin setup doesn’t help the performance of those boards. If you have a different perspective on this, it’s always possible to order a customize board with a 5-fin setup. Or even a quad only fin setup if you want to save weight.


Send us your question

So, this was a simple explanation on quad versus thruster fin setups. I hope you understand that it’s very different than normal surfboards, this was hopefully a useful explanation on what setup is best to use for our strapless kiteboards. Let us know if you have any other questions. You can always send us your questions via our social media channels, email, give us a call or speak to us during one of our test events and we’ll try to put them in the next video. See you guys soon! 


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