Fin iterations

Trial, Error, Failure, Repeat & The World Wide Web


surf spots in the iconic style of the National Parks posters.

Sometimes it’s easy to look at a website or an Instagram or even just a product and assume it’s all peaches. At least I can fall victim to that and certainly have in the past.

If you look at the Wave Arcade Instagram and read some things on the blog, my hope is that you see some of the mistakes I’ve made and continue to make. This shit is challenging.

At the time of writing this, I’m about a year into focusing on Wave Arcade full time. I’ve learned a lot in this year.

Looking back now, it’s a little crazy to think I thought I was going to be making and selling fins my cutting down and splitting bamboo stalks by hand. That’s insane.

What I’ve found is that when you pour your whole focus into something, your thought processes and learning becomes accelerated.

I’m well into the double digits on materials, methods, designs, and processes I’ve used to make surfboard fins, and that will continue to evolve.

One of the core components of the Wave Arcade project is experimentation. At first I thought that just meant with equipment in the water, but I’ve come to realize that experimentation encompasses everything – and anything you do in the water starts in your mind.

If you’re interested in trying to design and build something of your own or if you’re just curious about the process of embarking on a project like I have with Wave Arcade, maybe some of my thoughts here can help you.

Trial, Error, Failure, Repeat

You’ve definitely heard something along these lines before, and honestly, I don’t think I truly believed or understood it at first.

But, if you’re trying to do something new, you’re going to make a lot of mistakes.

I think my biggest mistake at the beginning was to go big on a certain idea too quickly. I’d vet something out about 70% and figure it was the way to go for a big batch of fins. That was foolish.

In doing so, I was on this really fast roller coaster of excitement and big failures at the beginning of the project. It was this frustrating cycle of start, accelerate, crash, repeat.

Here’s my advice – if you’re trying to figure out some sort of new process or design – vet out a bunch of different iterations to completion before picking a path. You’ll get the value of failing and learning quickly without the waste and frustration of a worthless batch of defective products.

Along those same lines is how to come up with your ideas. Here’s where the trap of the magical World Wide Web comes into play.

You can find a number of fairly well explained processes for doing almost anything – including making surfboards and fins. This is a double edge sword. Do not think the processes you find on the internet will help you 100%.

The internet and the information you’ll find is simply another tool you have at your disposal. When you’re making something, you’re going to be using more than a single tool.

If you’re doing something once and want to follow something that already exists, then yes, use what you find on the internet. But, if you’re trying to do something new or you need to design a production process, you’ve really got to start from first principles.

Read and understand the information you find on the internet, test some things out if you want – but approach it all with skepticism and look at it through the lens of your own project.

After a while of fumbling around, tinkering with things and thoughts, you’ll start to find yourself getting into more of a rhythm. You’re going to start brainstorming new ideas faster, understanding and spotting problems sooner, and making things that you could not have made without going through the motions of your project.

Failure and mistakes are extremely frustrating at first, but over time, you learn that they’re just part of the deal. You figure out how to control and manage it so that it doesn’t derail the process.

Then you get back in the water to test something new, and you really remember why you’re doing this all in the first place.