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Launched in 2006, FireWire has had a significant influence on the surf industry, bringing a range of new materials and cutting-edge technology to the forefront of surfboard design. Five years ago, kitesurfer Felix Pivec found FireWire and what he believed were the best boards to blend pure surf style and kiting. Since then, the company has expanded their kitesurf board program to four models available in various sizes. FireWire’s Brian Friedmann talks about FireWire’s 2015 line.
FireWire launched the Vanguard in 2013/2014 in cooperation with Daniel “Tomo” Thomson, who has reintroduced the Modern Planing Hull (MPH). How does the sizing and smaller shape of these boards work and are they more geared toward advanced riders? The Modern planing hull concept utilizes parallel rail lines and a number of design features to create a board that will provide the feel of planing across the water instead of a typical short board which will sink into the water. The effective rail line on the board is fully utilized and additional length is not needed to produce a high performance board. On standard surfboards the nose and front part of the board serves very little purpose. The Vanguard’s aggressive concave nose drives air under the board forcing it to push towards the rider’s feet. This increases stability yet the shorter size allows a very controllable higher speed skate type feel. The tail also has a sophisticated design mimicking jet fighter aerodynamics that provides very reactive control points awaiting the rider’s input. While the board offers incredible upwind capability surpassing traditional boards and extreme high performance, it’s also very well suited for beginner and intermediate strapless riders. The board provides a very stable feel in any conditions including large surf and lends itself to riders of all levels.
What kind of conditions does the Vanguard excel in? The Vanguard does incredibly well in all conditions and is truly a revolutionary shape and ride but if you had to state only one thing that stands out it would be upwind performance. The people riding Vanguards are finding themselves on smaller kites and out on days that they normally would be watching others from the beach. The Vanguard is a very stable platform that works well in all types of surf in light to high wind conditions.
How should a rider best choose a size? What kinds of fins do you recommend? Our typical recommendation for sizing is based on rider weight. For rider’s 185 lbs. And over we recommend the 5’4” or 5’6”. For rider’s under 185 lbs. The 5’2” or 5’0” is a great choice. Of course if you’re looking for lighter wind performance then lean on the longer side and conversely higher wind (more kite power) then go shorter. The Vanguard is designed to be ridden very short and you’ll be amazed by the performance. Most riders will benefit from small to medium sized fins as the vanguard already has plenty of drive and doesn’t’ need more speed. The exception to this would be a heavier rider who needs more fin in the water.
FireWire offers boards in FST (Future Shapes Technology) or TimberTek construction. What’s the difference? Our Futures Shapes Technology (FST) is the original build that we have produced for a number of years consisting of a 1.5lb foam core, high density aerospace composite and our 12mm parabolic balsa rail system to control flex and provide strength. This design is much stronger than standard polyurethane (PU) boards and provides durability for extended life of the board. TimberTek is one of our latest advancements in board design and uses a visually stunning Paulownia wood deck skin that is sustainably grown and an Entropy bio resin to produce one of the least toxic and smallest carbon footprints of any commercially available surfboards manufactured today. TimberTek is extremely lightweight yet very strong and is equally as beautiful under your foot as it is on the wall.
You also offer the Hellfire, Hell Razor and Profile V1 boards. Has anything changed on these models and how would you recommend a rider choose between the three and the Vanguard? The Vanguard has certainly earned its place in the lineup and is our latest technology offering that performs well in all conditions. Board choice is really a personal thing and we try to provide a number of options for our customers. The Hellfire is one of our most popular models and a fantastic all around board that anyone can get on and feel right at home with. it’s offered in both a strapped (FST) and strapless (Timbertek) option. The Hell Razor is probably considered a little more high performance in terms of vertical attack on a wave. This board really adapts well to both riders that weight their front foot more and riders that weight there back foot more. As a result, it is very well suited for those that want both down the line drive and a tight hook off the top. Similar to the Hellfire, it’s offered in both a strapped and strapless option. The profile V1 continues to be known as one of our high performance models and really shines when the waves get hollow. It’s more of a traditional shape with lots of rocker so works really well in the pocket.
How does your R&D process work for kitesurf boards and how does FireWire determine which boards will be offered to the kitesurfer market? We use some of our top riders to review our kiteboard lineup and regularly make changes. We also take dealer input on what’s performing well and other customer feedback to make our final decisions on the kiteboard lineup. FireWire is a leader in the surf industry and we have a vast number of options to choose from. Not all of those options are the best fit for the kiting community so we try to select shapes and sizes that will fit most riders and offer a lot of variety. We are constantly looking at the boards being offered for kiting and strive to bring the latest advancements to our customers.
This year we have dropped the Sweet Potato as the vanguard can do everything and more that the Sweet Potato offered. We also went to a 5’8” Hellfire and did away with the 5’10” version after taking into consideration a lot of feedback from our dealers and riders. We have a number of customers that continue to use our standard surfboards without reinforcement for kiting. While this isn’t recommended for aggressive airs and really hard riding, many are happy with the surfboard’s performance and it provides them a huge selection to choose from. these are often riders that want to surf and kite the same board placing more emphasis on the surf properties of the board. Our kiteboards are specifically designed to withstand the extra abuse that kiteboard forces place on a board. These boards can also be surfed but are more optimal for kiting. We add reinforcement and are constantly reviewing the weight vs. strength with regular adjustments being made to ensure our customers get the highest performing and most durable boards we can offer.
FireWire kiteboards don’t come with fins, straps or pads. Why? We feel that most riders have fin preferences as well as pad and strap preferences and we would rather pass on the savings for accessory items to offer the lowest possible prices to our customers. We give them the choice of what accessories they want instead of having them end up with extra fins and pad sets.
We understand that another Tomo MPH kitesurf board will be added to the line in 2015. Can you tell us anything about it? We are always looking to add and update our kiteboard lineup and Tomo has a number of designs that we are currently discussing that could become the next great board for people. We were really happy with the Vanguard and how it’s creating a lot of change in the kiteboard market. FireWire is always looking at new technology and will continue to push design limits and Tomo’s Modern planing hulls are a natural foundation for us to work from.
All FireWire boards come with Futures fin boxes. Can riders get FCS fin boxes if requested? Futures have been the standard fins for our Kiteboards for some time. We have offered FCS II’s in our surfboards since their inception and do offer FCS II’s as an option for our customers if they want them on any of our kiteboard models.
Is there anything you’d like to add? FireWire continues its goal of innovation with new board designs and technologies like the Vanguard and TimberTek construction. We are one of the largest surfboard companies looking to offer our proven designs and advanced technology to the kiting community. With some of the world’s top surfers succeeding on our shapes there is no doubt that we can help to bring your kiting to the next level.