OAM has teamed up with Australian Barry Jolly to market and sell a new fin system they say offers easier installation in a stronger and lighter fin. In a market currently dominated by the Fin Control System (FCS), it looks as though OAM has a tough job ahead.
The FCS system was introduced six years ago in Australia and has had a meteoric rise ever since. Currently, FCS Director of U.S. Operations Tyler Callaway estimates, “Seventy-five percent of the shortboards in the United States use the Fin Control System.” After the 22 percent using glass-ons, Callaway says, “the remaining three percent use other fin systems.”
For Jolly, the idea began three years ago when he started making replacement fins for FCS. As a shaper and experimental surfboard maker, Jolly turned his attention to developing a new fin system, a system he had been thinking about for years. With the help of Australian legend Lawrie Hohensee¿who has been making boards since 1956¿he began working on product development.
Jolly and his partners are into technical experimentation in surfing. After stress tests, prototypes, and two years of R&D, he started feeling his way through patents and eventually applied for worldwide rights.
“Then came the scariest part, putting up the 100,000 dollars for a mold,” says Jolly. Next came OAM.
OAM was created to provide products the five pro riders/part owners didn’t receive through sponsorships, the most technically advanced equipment possible. According to OAM President Guy Trotter, “We want to be the company you go to for all travel needs.”
It was through Australian OAM licensee Perry Underwood that Trotter first saw the fins and eventually met with Jolly. From that came the partnership responsible for the OAM Fin Tech system. According to Trotter, “OAM is working hand-in-hand with Jolly using our knowledge and customer distribution.”
So far surfboard shapers such as Michael Baron and Richie Collins have used the new fin system on their boards.
A routing system and jig designed by Jolly makes it easy to install with less chance of error. The fin system is designed to snap out at the base and not crack the box, minimizing damage to the board. The fin material is a high-grade polyester combined with carbon, which makes the fin lighter and stronger. These features, according to Jolly, make the OAM Fin Tech System “a total surfer-oriented product,” and so far the results have been favorable. After three weeks on the Australian market, the fins sold out. OAM is looking for the 5,000-square-foot factory in Australia to produce 100,000 sets in the next year.