If you are like most surfers, you look at your state-of-the-art tri-fin surfboard and assume that the story of one of surfing’s greatest design innovations, Simon Anderson’s Thruster, is told solely in those three fins studding the tail. Well, isn’t it? Not exactly. There is hidden in each modern tri-fin, another design revolution, that few surfers are aware of: the Needle Nose.
Back in the late 1970s and up to the inception of the Thruster in 1981, most pro surfers were desperately seeking a board design to match Mark Richards and his unbeatable twin-fins. At roughly the same time Anderson was experimenting with making twin-fins (which he hated) feel more like his single-fins, fellow pro Cheyne Horan and his shaper/designer Geoff McCoy were working on “the Needle Nose” (sometimes called the “No-Nose”), a modern version of the old Velzy “Pig” board. This radically tail-centered planshape had a drastically pulled-in (for the time) nose, width and hips stuffed way in the back, and a wider tail that bestowed greater speed for Horan’s single-fins in smaller, slower surf and allowed the tight and snappy turns that were all-important to match MR’s twin-fin performance.
The timing was perfect for a surfboard-design quantum leap. Anderson adopted the new Needle Nose planshapes on some of his early Thrusters and found them to be a perfect match for the new tail-centric form of surfing. Although the triangular turning axis and torque of Anderson’s three fins are key to his design’s incredible success and staying power, it was that three-fin array’s marriage to the planshape of the Needle Nose that paved the way for the shortboards we know today.