Firewire Boards Breakthrough

Mon, 3 May 2010

Firewire surfboards have been around for some time now, but are new in South Africa. Chris Mason rode his first several years ago at a deserted beach break in rural Nicaragua, and the memory stayed.

So when I walked into the Country Feeling surf shop in J-Bay and found that they were gratuitously lending out sample boards to all and sundry, I happily took one for a spin. It was 4-5’ out at Supers, and surprisingly uncrowded with just 5 people in the water. I got several speedy walls and laid a few rails, and was so thoroughly impressed with the 6’2 Taj Pro Model that I had thoughts of claiming I was hijacked on the way back and the board stolen, before I snuck off to Cape Town with the kidnapped stick tucked under my arm. Of course this is not what happened, but I did go and investigate a little around this new breed of surfboards.

Firewire boards are slightly different from the traditional polyurethane boards in both design and material.  Epoxy resign and EPS foam are used to make them, making the boards more environmentally friendly, as well as being lighter and stronger than traditional boards.  What I noticed most when riding the Firewire was the flex it had. It wasn’t the inordinate flex of a really lightly glassed board, but more like a twangy flexibility that increased speed of the bottom and through rail to rail transitions. The boards are more buoyant than normal surfboards, meaning you can probably cut off a few inches when choosing Firewire.  But there are a few misconceptions concerning Firewires that should be cleared up, before one considers buying one:

Firewires are not invincible. As with any surfboard, they will break in extremely hectic situations.  But Firewires are stronger it seems, and last a lot longer.

You can fix a Firewires ding. But you must do it immediately and have to use epoxy resin. You also shouldn’t surf your Firewire with a ding, because if water gets inside it is potentially fatal. They tend to have almost impervious rails though, because they are mostly made of balsa wood, which makes them good for dropping.

They are not heavier than normal boards. They weigh around the same, and the high performance boards are positively light.

They do not have whale-like blow holes that eject steam and whistle. The vent towards the front of the board is there to allow for the flow of air through during extreme temperature changes, thus allowing the foam to expand and contract without damaging the board. It would be cool if they whistled though.

There are a couple of SA guys on Firewires already, including J Bay resident and Xcel Supers Showdown reigning champ Ryan Payne. Here’s what Ryan had to say:

What is your Name, Age, Hometown and Occupation:

My name is Ryan Payne, 26, born in Durban, but now reside in Jeffrey's Bay, South Africa. My official title is Team and Events Manager for Billabong South Africa.

How did you discover Firewire?

Teeb's joining the team was when I first took notice of the Fire Wire Boards.

What is your take on Firewire Tech/boards?

Durability, all boards break, but the Fire Wires have the strength to last longer whilst not compromising their performance

Can you share a story where you were blown away by your board, like a manoeuvre, a contest result etc.

I rode my 6'2" Taj for almost 8 months of 2009, everything from 8ft Supers to 3ft beach breaks to heavy wildside ledges. If I was riding anything else, my board allowance would be shot into negatives… It still amazes me how it's in one piece…

Do you have any broken board stories?

Wow, yeah, I've had a polyurethane board buckle under my stomach whilst paddling into a wave in Scottburgh. The wave at Scottburgh has a rock outcrop where the wave before yours normally rebounds off and gets in the way of your take off; the tension of the rebounding energy (wave is too small to be a swell) shattered my board. I’ve since taken a Fire Wire out and no problems like that since… On the Fire Wire front, no, I haven't snapped one yet, but I have witnessed one or two break, as you said, any size wave can break any board, the right angle and bang, its history. I saw one break in a two foot beachie, how do you say, wrong time, right place?

Are you paid by Firewire surfboards?

Nope, why do you want to? :) Could always do with an extra buck!

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