FCS burst onto the surf scene as a truly revolutionary product. Broken fins from air travel were a thing of the past. You could finally fit multiple boards into a surfboard bag. You could experiment with fin sizes and get creative. Eventually you’d have the option to purchase a board with five fin boxes, enabling you to switch from quad to thruster in seconds.

The original Fin Control System was unbelievably simple. Simply push a fin into the fin box and tighten the screws. In many ways the first version of the system was easier than the second. FCS2 arrived on the scene as a way to forgo those little screwdrivers and simply click the fin into the box. It is a great idea and helped FCS deal with the influx of cheap copycat fins that had flooded the market – but FCS2 have proven to be a bit more hard on the hands. In fact, some companies have invented fin pulling devices to solve this pain point (literally).

FCS2 branched into apparel and made some rather fine caps, leg ropes and t-shirts. They certainly shouldered their way into the surf industry, quickly becoming on of the best surf brands in the world.

Discover more about the FCS story below.

History of FCS

When was FCS founded?

FCS was founded in 1995.

Where was it founded?

FCS was founded in Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia

Who were the founders?

The FCS system was designed by Brian A. Whitty in Elanora, Australia, and patented on November 7, 1995.

Why was it founded?

In the early 90s the original FCS system was developed by Narrabeen surfer, Brian Whitty. FCS weren’t the first removable fin systems on the market, the idea had been around since the mid-60s, however Whitty had two things going in his favour. Firstly, his system was simple and unobtrusive, and secondly, surf travel was just beginning to boom. Removable fins meant surfers “didn’t get their fins smashed out when travelling around the world,” as Whitty explained in an early FCS promo.

  • Important milestones in the company’s history September 2013, FCS introduced FCS II, a new pre-glass fin system to the market. The new system boasts a number of key advantages over its predecessors. Firstly, the need for any screws or tool to secure the fins has been eliminated; the fins now simply lock into the plugs. Secondly, the leading edge of the fin resides inside the plug, and the base of the fins sit flush to the surface of the board creating a more seamless connection. The final key feature of the new system is that it’s backward compatible, meaning it will accept fins from the original dual tab system. Adding two grub screws and a small silicon insert allows you to secure your two tab fins into the new system.
  • SurfStitch buys FCS Fins for $17.1 million The online retailer launched in 2007 by Justin Cameron and Lex Pedersen acquired 100% of the shares of Surf Hardware International (SHI), the company behind the brands FCS, Gorilla, Hydro, and Softech.
  • In 2002 Macquarie Bank, the investment bank dubbed the Millionaire’s Factory, bought majority shares in FCS and cleaved off a slice of surf industry profits.
  • Legal challenges against the FCS patent: First was a company from Hawaii, Surfco, who made fins with FCS tabs. SHI took them to court and lost. Further cases eroded FCS’s exclusivity before the patent itself ran out. Perhaps you noticed when it happened, perhaps not, but within months a slew of fin companies popped up selling FCS-compatible fins. FCS had the surf retail network locked down so most of the new companies had to sell through eBay, yet their very presence was significant: FCS had relinquished rights over their invention.
  • In 2013 FCS finally launched FCS II which appeared to be the answer to their patent woes.


The Company Today

Who is the CEO?

Michael Heath is the CEO of Surf Hardware International. Surf Hardware International owns FCS.

How many staff do they have?

Estimated number of employees is 44-79.

How much revenue do they earn?

Estimated revenue is between $8 to $20.5 million.

Where are they located? 

The headquarters of Surf Hardware International is located at PO Box 423, Newport, New South Wales, 2106, Australia.

Do they have a foundation / non-for-profit arm?

FCS has no foundation or non-for-profit arm.

Which products do they specialize in?

Surf Hardware Inernational water board sports products and accessories include thrusters, racing fins, boardbags, surf fins and surfboard covers.


The Ambassadors

Who is sponsored by the company?

Julian Wilson, Mick Fanning, Mason Ho, Kelia Moniz, Kolohe Andino, Sally Fitzgibbons, Filipe Toledo, Jacob Willcox, Caroline Marks, Barron Mamiya, Oscar Langburne, Jeremy Flores, Seth Moniz, Harley Ingleby, Eli Hanneman, Matt Chojnacki

Any interesting quotes from executives or ambassadors?

I feel like if I was to leave a legacy behind it would be something involving the WSL and a competitive career more so than being a free surfer. And I’m not really trying to make a name for myself from anything other than surfing right now. That’s my main focus. I just do it because I love it.

Eli Hanneman

I can use my fin anywhere in the world, I get the perfect amount of drive and hold when I’m doing turns, and I can also get the tail free when I need to

Kolhe Andino

The way I see it, FCS is unchallenged for the best system and fins available, so I couldn’t be happier to continue the great relationship while working closely on developing my fins even further.

Julian Wilson


Sustainability

Do they produce any eco-friendly products or have a sustainability focus?

Surf Hardware International both have eco-friendly products and a sustainability focus as well.


Campaigns and Partnerships

Are they doing anything interesting in terms of campaigns or partnerships?


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