FCS PC-3 vs. PC-5 – Fin Size Matters

This is sort of a review, sort of a comparison, and sort of some advice for fin choice in general. I say that because fins depend on you – your ability level, weight, height, etc. Even the size of your board comes into play. Keep all this in mind when reading on below…

 

The reason I am comparing these fins to each other as well as on their own is because of something I learned the hard way – fin size matters. Before I knew what I was doing on a surfboard, I rode almost exclusively the entry-level FCS M-5 thruster (medium size fins), and sometimes as a quad with G-X trailer fins. Down the road, I acquired the PC-5 thruster set and began riding this (same size as M-5 fins). Just in the last year did I finally try the PC-3 set and I can confidently say that these small size fins are the right size for me (I’m about 5’8” 140lbs).

It took me years to realize it but I had been riding the wrong size fins for almost my entire surfing life. Side note – I have found that keeping a journal really helps in all board sports to get your setups dialed in exactly as you like with things like fins, board dimensions, etc.

So, I rode “-5” medium size fins for a long time but they were too big for me. This hurt my progression and my ability didn’t improve that much because I could not make the board turn as fast or as hard. Switching to the PC-3 and the smaller fin size was like putting performance tires on a car – suddenly, I could get the most out of my wave-riding vehicle. This definitely gives me more confidence in the water.

 

Photo Jun 10, 7 02 58 PM
FCS PC-3 thruster | 5’3″ LIB x …Lost Puddle Jumper

 

The Review

These two fin models from FCS are arguably some of their most popular. They are relatively cheap, solid fins ($82 from FCS directly) with good response and drive through turns. Both feature what FCS calls “performance core”, and FCS says they are lightweight performance fins (can’t argue there). They are both sold as quad and thruster packages, but this review concerns the thruster versions.

Once I found the right size fins, the PC Series became my favorite fin. I have been riding them on a 5’3” LIB x …Lost Puddle Jumper – the PC-3 thruster is my go-to setup for this board. I can get so much power and response out of these fins, it really opens up the possibilities for me. Speed is definitely not an issue, but a quad is still faster with these as side fins. That said, the thruster is good enough to get barreled.

The PC Series material is definitely snappier than the old M Series I had been riding for years. The snap is more aggressive as well, so a hard bottom turn is essential if you want to get these to release a bit. That is kind of the fun of it though – you really have to lay into it sometimes. If you do it well, the rewards are priceless. This forces you to work on technique and perfect every step – the drop, your line, the bottom turn, etc.

That said, I could never get this out of the PC Series when I rode the PC-5 due to the size. The PC-5 felt much less responsive and much less snappy. Even if I laid into turns on these fins, I never felt the flex doing any work to help me out. That’s really why size matter when it comes to fins – when the size is right, the fins respond and you can actually feel the flex working. That’s how it should be.

Overall, I would recommend the PC Series fins for intermediate-advanced surfers who want something predictable and responsive. They are priced right and widely available. I would say these fins work best in rippable, punchier waves where you want to go hard off the lip – the snap and response really helps these fins come into their own here. Don’t be afraid to really lay into these fins, as they will respond.

Just make sure you have the right size.

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How To Set Up a New Skateboard

If you are struggling to get those bearings out of your old wheels, or just plain don’t want to mess anything up setting up a new deck, you found the right video. Check out this tutorial for everything you need to know to take apart an old skateboard and put together a shiny new one, plus a bunch of tricks to make it all easier. Enjoy.

Burton Toe Strap Swap for Union & Ride Bindings

If the toe straps on your bindings are broken or just aren’t doing it for you, I would highly recommend that you swap on some Burton toe straps. It’s a quick and easy mod and it will make your bindings much better. The straps I’m talking about are called Burton Gettagrip Capstraps. You can get them for around $40. These bad boys hug the toes of your boots like nothing else. I’m talking total contact with less of that painful, uneven pressure you get from other toe straps (I mean you, Union). Check the video for a quick tutorial.

How to Wax Your Stick – Hot Waxing for Snowboards

Ever hit the slopes a little too hard and ended up flat on your face? I have. Typically, a few things can contribute to this. You should ask yourself: is it slush season? are you even on snow? and, what’s your wax situation? I’m going to focus on wax, because the other two should be easy to correct if you have waxing down. The steps for doing a good hot wax are simple if you have everything you need and are in the right environment. You should find a table in a well lit area and cover it and the surrounding area in newspaper. Don’t do this in a place where pink wax might stick to and ruin something, because it will stick to everything. If you got that, then here’s what you’ll need:

  • Clothes iron or Waxing iron
  • Hot wax
  • Plastic scraper
  • Wire brush
  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Paper Towels
  • Gummy Stone (optional/recommended – get one here)

The Steps

1: Prep/Gummy Stone

I like taking my bindings off before waxing because its easier to work with the board. If not, you should at least loosen the screws so the heat doesn’t mess with the mounting holes. You should make sure you have the right temperature wax. Hot wax can be all temperature (more versatile, good all around) or temperature specific (faster if the conditions are right). It’s a preference for you. I like temperature specific wax because I re-wax my board a few times a season anyway. Also, if you have a gummy stone, the first thing you want to do is rub that thing all up and down the rails of your board. This will remove any rust, dings, burrs, or rough patches in your rails…as long as it’s nothing serious. This will make some metal shavings so after that..

2: Clean Your Base

Take your rubbing alcohol, get it on some paper towels and rub it all over the base of your board. This will clean off any dirt that could get stuck in the fresh wax. Wait for this to dry for about 15 minutes. Once you’re sure its dry..

3: Drip the Wax

Heat your iron up. For an average clothes iron, the right setting is the lowest one. On my iron, it’s called “synthetics.” It could be called “wool” on others. For a fancy waxing iron, the temperature should be set to whatever it says on the wax you’re using. Between 250-270 degrees Fahrenheit is a safe bet if you don’t know what else to do. Drip the wax up and down the base until you have some pretty dense coverage. You’ll probably have to move the iron back and forth a bunch of times.

4: Spread the Wax

After you drip a good amount of wax, you need to spread it all out. Run your iron slowly across your base. Keep it moving though, or you risk burning your base! A good pace is around an inch per second. If your iron is a little hot you may have to move it faster, so keep an eye on it. A few slow passes with the iron and you should have a pretty smooth layer of wax. Leave this to dry and harden for 45 minutes to an hour.

5: Scrape the Wax

After the wax is cool and hard, you need to scrape it all off. Hot wax doesn’t work if it’s just on your base. The heat from the iron actually makes it go into the pores in the base, and any left on the base surface will make you go slower! So, take your plastic scraper and really put some effort into it. Your arms might get tired but you should try to scrape as much wax off as possible.

6: Brush It

After you do a bunch of scraping, take your wire brush and brush your base. You don’t need to be super aggressive with this, just enough to take off the last thin layer of wax. Brush until it seems like no more wax is coming off. A good way to check if there’s any wax still on the base is to run your fingernails down it. If you have any wax under your nails, brush a little more. It doesn’t need to be spotless though so no need to go nuts.

That’s it! Check out the video up top to see it happen.