Quad or Thruster setup for sup surfboards

Deciding whether to ride a quad or thruster fin setup can make a difference to what you get back from a board but are you ready to make that decision?

jimy lewis worldwide sup 8'9What exactly is a quad compared to a thruster?

The quad is a 4 fin setup on your board whereas the thruster is a 3 fin setup.   Look at something like the Jimmy Lewis Worldwide and you can see that the fin slots available allow for a quad or thruster with the thruster fin position being the back mid slot.

How different can it feel

Fins produce drag as you would expect from anything being pulled through water but this is only an issue when travelling in a straight line which surfers rarely do.

If you consider the tail of the board and think about the water rushing back, when it hits the centre thruster fin drag is created whereas a quad does not have this problem and releases the water freely.

Smaller slower waves could certainly benefit from a faster board so the quad would most definitely be worth trying. It will help you to drive the board quicker down the line.

Many of the world’s top big wave surfers ride quad fins when braving treacherous breaks like Mavericks and Jaws. The reason for the superior hold in larger surf is the two fins near the rail working together. There is no doubting the appeal of a faster board with more hold when trying to outrun a bomb.

Quads also offer greater grip when slashing but this may not be what you want.   Not being able to release the tail and throw the board around so easily would definitely be a problem for more advanced surfers so the thruster fin setup would then lend itself.


A quad definitely feels looser and skatier because it lacks the center fin of the thruster setup.   The quad will feel a lot more responsive but can take time to get used to this style and certainly handling faster bottom and top turns.


You may not think this matters to you at your level but as you progress you’ll find what you like.   I ride all the configurations and prefer the quad but this is mainly because my time is spent on the south coast in less than powerful waves.

Check out our Jimmy Lewis Kwad, Jimmy Lewis Supertech and Jimmy Lewis Worldwide for the more performance surfs sups or have a look at our surf sup range here.