Then and Now
For more than three decades Chuck Ames and the True Ames Fins team have been at the forefront of the fiberglass fin industry. Balancing a surfer-driven design ethic with an unyielding commitment to innovation and production excellence, we have forged an international reputation in the surfing and windsurfing communities as the guys who, simply put, make your waveriding vehicle of choice work even better. After all, as Chuck likes to say, “You could have the best board in the world shaped for you but, if the fins are off, it won’t go- the thing just won’t work the way it should.” Day in and day out, it is our goal at True Ames to make sure such fin failures never happen to you.
This mission started one afternoon in 1979 in the parking lot at Rincon when Chuck found a flyer on his car post-surf session at the Queen of the Coast. The fateful note was advertising a fin business for sale and, well, being a recent college grad with designs on making a few bucks and still having time to chase waves, the offer was too good to refuse. Soon enough, True Ames was born and Chuck was busy laying up fiberglass, cutting fins, and grinding away foils in the bean fields of Oxnard.
The early 1980’s was a heady and occasionally tumultuous time in Southern California’s exploding surf industry and the Santa Barbara area was right in the middle of the madness. Lockstep with the innovation of that historic era, we worked closely with local comrades and emerging legends like Reynolds Yater and Channel Islands Surfboards’ Al Merrick to produce fins that helped make some of the best surfboards on the planet even better. True Ames templates and foils helped navigate a young Tommy Curren towards his first World Title and also played a critical role in the Campbell Brothers cutting edge Bonzer experiments of the day.
The mid-80’s saw True Ames jump head first into the technically challenging world of windsurfing. Forming a tight relationship with George Geenough, another one of Santa Barbara’s most brilliant and eccentric ocean-minded innovators who was already quite engrossed with the hydrodynamic challenges of windsurfing, we set to developing progressive fin foils that quickly set new standards for the industry. True Ames riders came to dominate race courses the world over and, when the first windsurfer broke the 50 MPH mark, he was propelled by one of our skegs.
The design adventure only continued for us in the 1990’s as the surfing world rediscovered longboards. Seemingly overnight, an unprecedented demand for Bane box fins was created and, with it, came a new wave of surfers and shapers demanding an ever-expanding palate of longboard fin templates for a wide variety of wave conditions and surfing styles. More than happy to oblige, we jumped in the fabricating shop with a mix of forward thinking shapers/surfers like Wayne Rich, Greg Liddle, Skip Frye, Dale Velzy, and the Yaters, to create their own signature True Ames fins, all of which continue to flourish and evolve. It was also during the latter half of the 90’s that we first started applying our vast fin experience to the sport of wake boarding.
Today, as the 21st Century enters its teenage years, True Ames remains as committed as ever to providing the best fins for your ride, no matter your vehicle of choice within the vast family trees of surfing, windsurfing, wake boarding and kite boarding. Long hours of research and development have led to our industry leading True Lite Hexcore line for FCS and Future systems, be they twin fin, thruster, quad or 2+1 set-ups. Knowing full well that a proper magic board requires collaboration between shapers, fin makers and surfers alike, we continue regular work on our signature fins for world class board companies like Channel Islands, Lost, The Campbell Brothers, Timmy Patterson, and Eric Arakawa. And, perhaps most importantly, envelope pushing and design-conscious world class surfers like Tyler Warren, Christian Wach, Josh Farberow, Adam Robertson, and the scores of 805-based surfers who care about what is under their feet, remain regular visitors to our headquarters in Goleta where we work together to vision quest the future of fin design and construction. From new foils and shapes, to our emerging wood fin project that features perfectly produced CAD system cut bamboo and cedar fins, ours is a world of constant evolution and dedication to keeping True Ames as the fin industry’s greatest resource.