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2013 Buyer’s Guide: Firewire

Photo Chuck Harlan

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For 2013, Firewire has reverted back to their original product offering which includes reinforced strap inserts and fins, but no straps and pads. With the broad cross section of straps and pads available and the growing legion of kiters who ride without any straps, they’d prefer to allow you the decision of which pad, strap, or neither is right for you. Firewire’s Brian Friedmann overviews four new boards that Firewire is adding to its product line for 2013.

Firewire has 25 surfboard models in its line. How do you decide which boards will be modified for kitesurfing?

Our team spends a lot of time evaluating boards from the surfboard product line that would best suit kitesurfing. We look for multiple attributes including rider ability, conditions, rider weight, and general board characteristics when selecting a model to go into the kiteboard lineup. We also take feedback from our customers, the forums, and other kitesurfers into consideration. With such a broad range of shapes and designs, this is a tough task. And while we can’t offer every model produced, we feel we offer something for everyone in our latest kiteboarding product offerings.

Does a regular Firewire surfboard differ somewhat in performance to its kiting equivalent due to its different construction?

There may be a very slight difference with the heavier build that is required to ensure kiteboard durability and to withstand the additional impact of kiting vs. surfing. However it would be challenging to feel that difference in the surf unless you were paddling the board as the kite will have input. Additionally we are introducing some new models without inserts to reduce weight and give consumers more choices. Bottom contours, rails, outlines, and general shape characteristics are identical in an effort to preserve the high performance top athletes expect from our boards.

Photo Chuck Harlan

Firewire is rolling out three new kite surfboards for 2013. Starting with the 51Baked Potato, who is this board targeted at?

Technically it’s four as we are offering our most popular 5’11” KP1 model (named WP1) without inserts and with weight reduction for unmatched high performance. But let’s talk about the little spud for a minute. The 5’1” Baked Potato is a super fun board and is really well suited for light wind when set up as a quad.

A deep double concave and wide outline make it a perfect board for practicing air transitions. The shorter length makes it easy to manage in the surf and a natural choice for anyone starting out on a directional board. But this little potato is also geared to perform and accelerates quickly in the flats and turns on a dime. Also, don’t be afraid to surf this board. You’ll be amazed how well it paddles and holds a rail even in bigger surf.

The 6’0” WJK Jacknife is a hybrid board. What are the main advantages to riding this style of board? Any disadvantages over a pure thruster or quad design?

This is one of our latest designs and has a little more beef up front by the nose which allows it to work well in lighter winds or for larger riders. The volume is comparable to our popular 5’10” diamond tail Hellfire but the winged swallow tail on the Jacknife allows for really snappy turns.

Like all of our hybrids you get a 5-fin setup so the choice to ride it as a tri or quad is up to you. It’s almost like getting two boards in one. This provides the consumer more options for different conditions over a standard thruster or quad board. For example if the wind is light or waves are mushy the hybrid can be setup as a quad. But when it gets hollow or the wind starts to howl a tri fin setup may be more optimal. Two options, one board, and all the performance you need.

How does the new 6’2” WMB Michel Bourez board fit into the lineup?

The Michel Bourez, AKAthe Spartan, is a great option for the larger rider or someone looking for a more standard high performance board. This tri fin has a gentle single concave and even rocker allowing the board to go rail to rail anywhere on the wave face. Our surfboard side of the house makes this 6’2” in two thicknesses.

We adopted the thicker 2 11/16” board for our kiteboard model as it boasts the highest overall volume in the kiteboard line up and we wanted to make certain the larger riders where well represented. This board is also great to paddle and can handle big surf with ease whether you decide to kite or paddle it into those bombs.

WMB

The 511KP1 was modified for 2013. Why and what was changed? Will previous riders notice a big difference?

We decided to revise the design slightly to squeeze out even more performance. The width and thickness changed a minimal amount but we believe it improved the overall shape. All of the characteristics of the previous model have been retained so there won’t be a big change in the way this board handles. This is an extremely high performance board that is perfect for the advanced rider or anyone looking for a board that will grow with them as they progress to the next level.

Returning for 2013 are the 56and 510Hellfire and the Dominator 58. What conditions are these boards best suited for and what type/level of rider?

People have found the Hellfire to be a great all around board. The bottom contour allows the board to get up a plane quickly making them suitable for lighter wind days. They also really shine for performance riding and will hook a tight turn with ease on steep waves. We typically use 185 lbs as a guideline for selecting the appropriate size on this model.

Over 185 lb we recommend the 5’10”, under the 5’6” is better suited. Unless you’re a big guy leaning more towards a higher wind board, then the 5’6” is an option. The Dominator having the second highest overall volume in our kiteboard offering is a great option for light wind. Its wider outline makes it very stable and it connects mushy sections of the wave with ease. This board has a tad less high performance feel to it in comparison to the Hellfire but you gain extra stability.

KHF

Are the KTJ511Q, KDF600S, and KQF602Q boards still in the line?

We took a hard look at our lineup and decided to drop a couple models as they were either too close in specifications to another comparable model or the shape had been updated and replaced with a more current design. The KTJ511Q has been replaced by the KP1 (with inserts) and WP1 (no inserts) which is almost an identical board to its KTJ511 predecessor. We strive to provide riders with a lot of choices, but not so many that it becomes overwhelming. And fewer models help lower our production costs and that allows us to keep our pricing low, a key objective that we pass on to our customers.

2013 FIREWIRE BOARDS
Board Name Sizes Type Target Date Available
WJK600S Jacknife 6’0″x19 3/4″x2 3/8″ Surf High performance hybrid, fast rail to rail, very versatile, no inserts Spring 2013
WP1511Q PRO 5’11x 18 1/4″x2 ¼” Surf High performance, pure surf, paddle/kite, no inserts Spring 2013
WMB602Q Bourez 6’2″x19″x2 11/16″ Surf Larger rider, pure surf, paddle/kite, no inserts Spring 2013
KBP501D Baked Potato 5’1″x20 1/2”x2 1/4″ Surf Light wind, skate tricks, great entry level for newcomers Spring 2013
KHF506D Hellfire 5’6″x19″x2 3/16″ Surf Light wind, all around, under 185lb rider Now
KDM508R Dominator 5’8″x20″x2 3/8″ Surf Light wind, all around, great entry level for newcomers Now
KHF510D Hellfire 5’10″x19 3/4″x2 3/8″ Surf Light wind, all around, 185lb or more rider Now
KP1511Q-PRO 5’11″x18 1/4″x2 ¼” Surf High performance, pure surf Now

Experienced surfers will probably have no problems choosing the Firewire board that would suit them best but what about those with little to no experience?

With so many opinions and options out there, choosing the right model board can be confusing. Our boards standout from the pack as they are intended for both paddle surfing and kiting. One way riders can help narrow the search is to use our volume calculator at http://www.firewiresurfboards.com/surfboards_volume_calc.php.

You can use this simple tool to determine what board would be optimal for your size, weight, and riding ability. Many riders pigeon hole themselves into a board believing board length is what determines what they have to ride. While this can be a factor, volume is equally or more important in picking the right board. Volume determines float, paddling capability (or think light wind for kiting), stability, and directly impacts a board’s overall performance.

What would you recommend as a great all around board for a beginner with little to no surf background? That’s a tough question and there are a lot of variables but generally speaking a board with more float (volume) is typically easier to start out on. In our lineup that could be the Dominator, Bourez, or even the Baked Potato for someone smaller that may want a skimmy feel. But the Hellfires are also amazing and allow you to grow with them. The WP1 may be challenging as it’s a very high performance model, but aside from that, all the boards are designed to support a broad range of rider ability.

WJK

And for a solid surfer?

If you like carving tight turns high in the pocket or cracking lips the WP1/KP1 would probably be the first choice. This board is extreme high performance and easily goes beyond vertical and recovers quickly. It will stay with you no matter how hard you push it. The only other thing to add is if you’re a larger rider you may want to lean towards the Bourez, Jacknife, or even 5’10” Hellfire as these can deliver the goods for bigger guys.

At this level there’s a lot of personal preference involved but all the boards perform really well so you won’t be disappointed.

Is there anything else youd like to add?

We are really excited to be adding more board options for our customers. The pure surf models with no inserts and reduced weight are a testament that we listen to our customers and continue to pursue the best high performance boards available. Also the introduction of our next generation shapes to our kiteboarding lineup gives consumers more choices on what to ride and covers more riding conditions.

We believe our surfboard design heritage (over 40 years) with top shapers and validation from some of the world’s top surf athletes sets us apart from our competitors as we bring these characteristics to our kiteboard offering. If you’re looking for a true high performance kitesurf board, take the test. Kite and paddle your current kiteboard and then take one of our boards for a go. You’ll immediately feel the difference and taking one board to kite and surf on for your daily session or dream trip becomes a true reality.

Want 185 pages of 2013 kiteboarding gear info on 28 brands? Check out the TKB 2013 Buyer’s Guide.

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