Shredderz, I’m afraid I have reached the point of no return. I am speaking about the precise moment in time when one finds oneself flipping through an old issue of Surfer Magazine, and then stops short in order to take a closer look at an advertisement for a fin box system that has been defunct for about 30 years.
Pictured above is an ad for the old Star Systems fin box, which had its peak during the 1980s. I’m not sure why, but Star Systems fins — often called star fins, though this is not to be confused with Cheyne Horan’s design — predominantly appeared on twin fins from the late 1970s and 1980s. Nowadays Star Systems fins mainly infuriate collectors looking for replacement fins so they can ride their 80s twinnies. Star Systems pre-dated the invention of the thruster, but for some reason, they didn’t seem to stick around long enough to compete with the likes of FCS and co, when removable fins became standard on most shortboards. Star Systems was one of the first attempts to create what we now take for granted as the modern removable fin system, but it’s far from being a household name.
At some point, Star Systems was closely associated with Gordon & Smith Surfboards. I’m not sure if G&S purchased Star Systems, but you’ll often see 80s G&S boards sporting the funky fin boxes. The ad pictured above is from 1979. From the looks of the advertisement, Star Systems was a separate company from Gordon & Smith at least during its early days.
Finally, here’s a great video from The Fin Project that features Larry Allenson talking through some of the unique mechanics of the Star Systems fin setup:
Thanks again for reading Sagas of Shred! We’ll be back in a week with some more surf history odds and ends.