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With an ever-expanding kitesurf board line, FireWire is introducing their TimberTek construction in 2014. Also new for this year is the choice to get boards with strap inserts or without and an exciting new shape, the Vanguard. FireWire’s Brian Friedmann gave us all the latest info about the 2014 FireWire product line.
New for 2014 is FireWire’s TimberTek construction. What is it and how does it differ from the FireWire FST construction?
TimberTek is an exciting new construction using a lightweight, strong, and sustainably grown Paulownia wood deck skin. This allows us to reduce the amount of exterior deck skin and to use less overall material to achieve the same or better strength while reducing board weight. TimberTek boards are lighter than our FST boards and maintain the strength and flex characteristics required for high performance surfing. This significantly moves our designs forward in terms of technology and environmental responsibility.
Riders receive big gains in performance and durability with a board that looks amazing. TimberTek is the next evolution of kiteboard construction and we have done countless hours of testing and adjusting to produce boards that will withstand just about anything you can throw at them. We are so convinced this is the perfect kiteboard construction that we are offering nearly all of our Pure Surf (no insert) kiteboards in TimberTek. We will still offer our traditional kiteboards with inserts in a number of popular models which lend themselves better to our FST construction.
The range of kitesurf boards has been expanded. How did you decide which models to offer in a kite construction?
We took into account a lot of feedback from our team riders, customers, retailers, and online communities. Our riders are constantly evaluating our surfboard shapes and determining which boards work best for kiteboarding. Because rider skill level, physical rider size, and kiting conditions vary, we try to take all of this into consideration when selecting the right kiteboard models.
We also ensure that the latest models in the surf side of the house are considered for kiting and bring designs like the Vanguard to the kiting community. With customer-driven input, team validation, and the latest designs, we give our customers more choices and models to choose from than ever before.
Also new for this year is the choice to get boards with or without inserts. Do inserts add a noticeable amount of weight to the board?
There is a slight weight difference as we build up the insert areas a bit more in order to withstand the additional force that straps put on them. Our Pure Surf (no insert) kite models are constructed in the TimberTek build so this creates even more of a spread in weight difference between our boards that include inserts and the ones without.
We factor into the build that kiters riding strapped often prefer to ride a bit more powered than those without straps who are looking for more of a natural surf feel from a board. Every board we make is done with pride, performance, and longevity in mind and that’s reflected in the craftsmanship which separates us from the pack.
Is it true that any FireWire surfboard can now be ordered in a kite construction?
Unfortunately not at this time. With well over 200 boards in our surfboard lineup we simply can’t produce every model and size in a kiteboard version. The difference between our surf models and their respective kite versions is the build of the board. We add reinforcement in the foot areas and use some other strengthening techniques to ensure you get a durable high performance board that will last many kite sessions. A number of our kiting customers prefer the flexibility and endless model choices with our standard surfboards and that’s great.
However, a little more care and a lighter riding style is needed to get longevity out of these models. So really, people do have a lot of choices and while we recommend if you’re planning on kiting hard that you pick up one of our kite-specific models, there are another 200+ options waiting out there if you decide to give one of our surf models a go.
Which board would you suggest to a kiter with no surf background looking to get into strapless riding?
Wow, that’s a tough call. Our Hellfire models are really easy to make the transition to strapless on. But surprisingly, the new Vanguard is a fantastic first board and is very stable as well. The other would be the Sweet Potato. With its wider outline it offers the rider a stable platform to get going on. The hybrids like the Hellfire and Sweet Potato area great and the high performance models are a logical next step up when you’re ready.
The Hellfire, Hell Razor and ProFile V1 are all high-performance short boards. Are they designed for different conditions or different surfing styles?
The Hellfire is one of our most popular models and is a great all around board for a variety of rider skill level and conditions. Comparatively, the Hell Razor, with its slightly more flattened double concave, narrower nose and tail, and a bit more traditional outline, is probably a step up in terms of high performance from the Hellfire for the intermediate or advanced rider. The Pro File V1 has a lot of rocker and while it won’t do as well with upwind performance as the other two it really shines in steep pockets for an advanced rider to unleash a vertical attack on the waves.
In what conditions does the Sweet Potato excel?
The Sweet Potato is great for light wind, small mushy surf, or as a board to practice transitions on in flat water. It’s a pretty versatile little spud and will work well in junk or quality surf up to head high.
Are any of the shapes kite specific or are they the same as the equivalent FireWire surf shapes?
All of our kiteboard shapes are derived from their identical surfboard counterparts. FireWire is a global leader in surfboard design and manufacturing. We have spent years perfecting surfboard shapes with legendary industry shapers and have top professional athletes validating our boards. It’s from our strong surfboard shaping roots that we determine which boards translate to great kiteboards by taking into account kiteboarding conditions and rider requirements.
There’s a lot of interest in the Vanguard. What is so special about this board? Why has it taken so long to get a kite version ready for production?
To put it simply, the Vanguard is a huge leap forward in board design. By definition the shape is not considered a board at all, but a Modern Planing Hull (MPH). On the water, that definition becomes very clear. Traditional surfboards have to be pumped or use wave energy to create speed on a wave without a kite. The MPH allows you to plane similar to a foil and creates lift so it wants to move forward with much less resistance. It’s this principal that makes the Vanguard the ultimate choice for kiting. Upwind performance is incredible and the MPH is stable yet turns effortlessly when moving your foot back on the tail.
It’s extremely smooth in the water and provides the rider a feeling of floating across the surface. The shorter overall rail line lends itself to quick turns and the deep channels push water through the fins and tail to create a lot of drive. But it’s not just the shape that makes this board unique. The build process and technology inside the skin also contributes to its positive attributes. You can ride this board much smaller than a traditional board. And don’t be concerned if you’re a larger rider as this shape will handle the load even at 5’6” in length. Medium and smaller riders are encouraged to ride the 5’4”, 5’2”, or 5’0”. We have nicknamed the 5’0” “The Smuggler” as it fits into a standard golf bag so you can save on baggage fees. We spent some time working on building the board in TimberTek construction, however with the MPH’s unique shape this proved to be challenging and delayed the release date so we have opted to offer the Vanguard in FST construction only at this time.
Is there anything else you’d like to highlight?
FireWire continues to innovate with new board construction, cutting edge shapes, more sizes, insert options, and durable, proven high performance wave riding boards offered at a competitive price. We are a hardcore surf company with a desire to bring great surfboards to the kiting community. Our kiteboards are designed to be surfed and kited and allow you to easily get to a one-board quiver for your next kiteboard trip. We are very excited about this year’s board offerings and hope to see you out in the surf on a FireWire soon!