One would by now, have had to had his head in the sand the last year, if he were to still deny the rising emergence of the five fins, or to be more precise the quad – thruster combo. If the best surfer in the world felt quite alone with this design under his feet, he certainly hasn’t this year.
Many of the top order simply dismissed his boards as irrelevant blaming his success- on Kelly himself. Many were spooked by change and to almost this day have paddled out into heats with a rabbits foot firmly planted in their back pockets.
Their magic boards were surfed in anything and everything- better the devil you know attitude seemed to permeate the ranks. The time Slater put in tweaking this design lays testament to his current use. It seems he knows exactly when to pull out the 4 fins and at other times, when to discard one, indeed even when to insert his nubster.
This is how far down the track he is. Thankfully this year we have seen more of the top order see reason and pull out a quad when conditions beckoned and immediately success has followed; Mick at Chopes- is one example.
As a shaper designer I went out on a limb with quads over 6 near 7 years ago. My team riders were too spooked to ride them on the tour but marvelled at their speed and with the intro of the round tail how much more vertical they went….and with speed. In fact Brooko perfected his Superman on them coz he could get even higher. Going out on an even more delicate limb, I can say that my efforts certainly helped popularize the round tail quad fins.
It all started with the Brooko RTQ and morphed into the Bullet series which has turned out to be my most popular design EVER. The original Brooko RTQ which Brooko and I developed was aimed squarely at the high end thruster market as an alternative to 3 fins and certainly got some traction at the time but unfortunately on tour was deemed still a risky choice. Well times have changed and now the thinking is warming to this type of design- albeit with a 5 fin capacity. So I thought it is about time the RTQ got a face lift and a purpose.
The HP RT-5 is now my frontline high performance design for those who want ride deep and get some serious altitude. You have to remember one thing about the new age quads, and that is they are more in the centre fin camp than the twin fin camp. This is primarily because the two rear trailers have been positioned closer to the stringer than the rail, giving them in fact a more centre fin feel and therefore are more able to pivot than those earlier quads where all fins were out on the rail, the end result- they were only comfortable when on rail and lacked control during the transition from either rail to rail. This fact has fallen on deaf ears the last half decade but now with the round tail addition, thruster die hards are warming.
Most of my quads have been specifically quad designs i.e. very wide and wider in the nose so it was in my mind pointless putting a centre fin on and riding them as a thruster as they would be too front heavy.
Not so with the HP-RT5, for one the nose area is not much wider than today’s normal thrusters that have been getting steadily wider anyway, and nor is the tail, so as a thruster it will feel quite comfortable in small to medium waves. When confronted with long barrelling pits the HP-RT5 will be better served in full quad mode and if real solid- with the mini stabilizer keel for more reach and bight particularly off the bottom because in this mode, it becomes even a closer relative of the thruster.
Low nose entry is now a way of life and the HP- RT5 is no different and because it is a round tail and with a quad mode installed, the rocker does not flip madly out the tail either, since it will be loose enough already with the above.
Not much has changed here from the original design which incorporates a deepish concave through the guts and shallows out with a double inserted in front of the front fins then passes out the pod with a little 3mm exit vee.
The outline of the HP-RT 5 is similar to our conventional thruster but perhaps a little wider in the nose and tail but by today’s standards not too much different. This board does not make use of the opportunity of more width since it is aimed at the highest performance a quad or thruster can deliver, so there are no big paddle advantages in this design. This board would be one of only a few in my range that will work equally well in either mode given it is applied in the right mode to the right conditions.
I think why it took quads so long to catch on was the quandary of where should the fins go and what fins should be used. It probably took 30 years for a consensus on thruster positions and quads are perhaps more complicated. Why? There are many places where the fins can go since the board is not going to slide out because it has double traction on the rail. The HP-RT 5 has the rear fins a little further back than some and therefore they can be smaller. With the mini keel applied when in quad mode you can really give this design a thruster like gouging bottom turn but the speed out of this turn leaves a thruster in its wake.
To remain true to the idea of high performance this design cannot be too heavy so it is glassed with a 4×4 Diagonal only. Problem with this is with only one layer on the top it is more susceptible to deck denting and even though being a diagonal weave is still vulnerable to snapping. With this model I have come up with a novel way of conquering the 2 problems with one idea. I trialled the idea on the” Little Pinger” and it worked a treat. I have used a carbon Vee patch that begins from the nose and runs out diagonally and hits the rail north of the front fins.
This carbon and E glass combo gives the board added nose to tail strength, perhaps even more than just a normal 4 oz insert would but with less weight. Also this type of lamination puts the 2 layers of glass at the rear where all the denting occurs so the dent strength is where it is traditionally needed. The front half of the board has less glass traditionally where it is not needed but the lateral structure is still sound due to the carbon bolster. At the end of the day we have a lighter board that will not snap easy nor will it dent any more than a normal glass job.
5.10 X 18 ½ X 2 3/16
6.0 X 18 5/8 X 2 1/4
6.2 X 18 ¾ X 2 5/16
6.4 X 19 X 2 3/8
6.6 X 19 ¼ X 2 7/16
Subject: RE: HPRT5
Just though I’d give you a bit of feedback bout the new stick! I only managed to ride it about 6 times before having to leave to work (I’m in Shenzen China at the moment) so it won’t be very thorough unfortunately
First thing I noticed when I was riding it as a quad was how much more drive it had off the bottom than the the RTQ’s which I loved. The light glass feels great when its clean too, I took it out when it was onshore and solid 5 foot and it didn’t go as well (which I expected) but as a thruster it would have performed better for sure (I left my fins at home that time.) As a thruster I had to tinker with the fin setup a little and I ended up finding that the ML channel islands worked well (with the slightly smaller centre fin) to loosen it up a little. I only had 3 surfs on it as a thruster and struggled a little unless it was overhead.
Overall I really loved the extra drive off the bottom in quad mode whilst still retaining all the other quad characteristics and I think it will be better than functional as a thruster in slightly “fatter” overhead waves. Definantly works well in both fin combinations in the right conditions!
Thanks again and as usual yet another great board!
Why haven’t I got onto quads earlier?! I love this board!!! I’ve only really surfed it above 4ft around Newcastle and up the coast, but I love how the thing can be dropped in late, race sections and has this really balanced smooth yet snappy feel to it. Also being someone who usually only surfs performance surfboards (with a thruster set-up) in anything overhead, I was pleasantly surprised to find it surfed much like a my other typical shortboards. I actually think now that the feel of the quad actually compliments my type of surfing a whole lot better than a three finner. Speed on demand, great hold on take-off, releases in the pocket well and feels comfortable behind the curtain. Mate I’m stoked! I have tried it in thruster form, but I keep going back to the quad. I also haven’t noticed any real lack of drive or slip (even in bigger stuff), so I haven’t even dropped the stabiliser in. Just feels right. Also I’m just about to leave for Mentawis in a week and I can’t wait to see what this thing can do. I’m 99% sure I will being doing the large part of my surfing over there on it. Thanks for the advice on getting something to suit my needs.
Anyway thanks again Muzz. When the Mrs finally allows me to spend some money on surfing and equipment again (I’ve broken the bank for this Mentawis trip!), I think I’ll come back to you and see if we can get a refined quad going for the 2ft-6ft wave region.