It’s been at least three years since I started to ride surfboards made by a company that would eventually turn into the Fire Wire brand. If you have a few minutes and you want to find out more about my thoughts and views on these boards then read on. If no, then go back to work and do what you are probably getting paid to do instead of surfing the internet!
I was lucky to have had a relationship with Nev Hyman from years of both riding and selling his surfboards. Nev is not only a good shaper; he is also very keen on making the best boards that can be built. There for when I saw him and some of his mates jumping up and down on a few boards that were lying deck down on the floor at one of the Action Sports Retailers shows here in San Diego, I had to find out what was up! The crowd around his demonstration area was pretty large so I let trying to talk with him go for awhile. I knew that he would track me down (as he has done over the years) and divulge his latest and greatest FUTURE SHAPES to me! Sure enough, a day or so after the trade show had ended he rang me up and we agreed to meet with in the next couple of days and talk about what was going on with his boards. Little did I know how much this upcoming meeting would end up affecting my thoughts and views on surfboards up to this time?
If you don’t know or haven’t ever met Nev than you won’t quite understand how infectious his enthusiasm can be. He was at the top of his game when we met. He quickly brought me up to speed as to why he was so excited about the technology behind the board’s construction. By the end of the conversation I was all FIRED up and ready to try one of the three boards that were being passed around to demo. Since the one and only short board was in someone else’s hands, I grabbed the 9’1” long board. Although I am not a long boarder on a regular basis, I have spent some time riding them. The board that I rode was contrary to everything that I was used to in an LB. It had BANNANA rocker with a tight pintail type of outline with a tri FCS fin set up that was moved way forward off the tail of the board. The nose looked as if it had been finished shaped with a butter knife but what the hell! Let’s give it a go.
The first time out on it I was sold! Paddles like a LB should, but surfs about a foot and a half shorter than it really is. The flex and twist of the board made it extremely forgiving and very fast. Solid nose rides one minute than full wrap around cut backs the next. Hard turns off the bottom that would project you straight back up the face or anywhere else on the wave you wanted to go. The well used term AWESOME pretty well sums it up. Now, I had to try a short board to see if the STOKE would carry over to that style of water craft. It took awhile but finally I got my chance.
A few months after riding the Long Board, the company Fire Wire had been established and plans for production of the boards was being plotted out. Mark Price was put in charge of the overall operation in the US and as luck would have it San Diego would be the place where the boards would be built. I was on my way out the door for my yearly two week Tavarua Tour when Price calls me up and offers to let me take the only short board demo with me to the Island. I had already packed my five boards for the trip and the engine was running for the drive up to LAX, so what was I to do? Why meet Mark at the freeway off ramp in Solana Beach and squeeze a sixth board into my bag. The loaner board was 6’2” x 18 5/8” x 2 ½” and a squash tail as well. Not my type of board really, as I prefer a fuller, thicker board and I can’t stand squash tails, as a general rule. We made it to LAX and down to Fiji no problem. The swell was rumored to be pretty solid down there with more energy heading out way. I had oh so many boards to try and so little time.
Well the surf was firing with waves at both Cloudbreak and Restaurants living up to their reputations. It was surf hard all day and go to bed early. My usual boards were working very well and the pre Fire Wire demo was just sitting in the corner waiting to be ridden. After a week of solid surf with more on the way I had to make a hard choice. Do I continue to ride my tried and true boards,or do I risk trying out that demo and perhaps sit through a four hour shift of pumping waves riding a board that I could not stand. With less than a week to go before returning home,and after all the extra effort that had gone into bringing the board down I decided to give it a go. On the first go out I brought the demo only just so that no matter what, like it or hate it, the board would be given a fair chance to prove it’s self. The surf was running in the 3 to 5 foot range with some solid overhead sets clocking through pretty regularly. I jumped off the boat and paddled over to my favorite spot to pick off some swing sets. The board felt short and narrow but it paddled real well. My first wave was a solid over header that had wrapped in off the top and was charging right at me. A quick spin and three or four solid strokes and I was in, or so I thought. The wave started to suck me back up the face and I hung at the top for what seemed like a very long time. Then the bottom fell out and I was in full flight down the face into the pit! At this stage of the game, digging the nose into the bottom of the wave is the most likely thing to happen. You might land the drop but would, most likely either have no speed to come off the bottom with or worse yet, just spin out completely. I was bracing myself for the worst. What did happen was completely unexpected. Upon connecting at the bottom of the wave, the nose flex up while the board twisted to let the inside rail hold in while the outside rail had full release. I was able to come off the bottom so fast that connecting into the next bowl section was not only easy but almost automatic. A few more pumps and the board pulled me right thru and down the line to exit at the end of the reef. Unbelievable! Was I just lucky? Not hardly. On the next wave, as well as on every wave after for the rest of my trip that board let me into spots and even more importantly got me out of certain areas on waves that I never thought I’d be able to explore. That demo was the ONLY board that I rode on every session until returning home and returning it to Mark Price.
Since that time Fire Wire has become well established and has progressed in both shapes and construction. One of the very few draw backs are that you can’t have a board custom shaped for you which means that if you can’t find a shape or style of board that fits into you normal dimensions you will have to make an adjustment. Every month or so Fire Wire adds a new shape or makes dimension additions to the existing line to broaden the consumers options. Another issue is that you are limited to what whoever designed and shaped the board was into at that time. Recently though, Fire Wire has worked out a deal to make certain LOST SURBOARDS models designed by Matt Biolis. I took one of his Stealth shapes down to Tavarua this last trip and again it was the only board I rode. Perhaps in the near future accords can be struck between other shapers so that the technology behind the Fire Wire designs can be put underneath the feet of legions of other surfers. My mind can only wonder how well a CI or Rusty shape/design would work with the Fire Wire treatment being used.
I could continue rambling on about more Fire Wire experiences both in the water and on the sales floor but those tales will have to wait for another day.