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I know the perfect surfboard probably doesn’t exist. The best surfboard in the world is what you think is the best surfboard in the world. But there are millions of surfboards out there, in all shapes and sizes. What should you choose?
Nowadays all major surf brands sell boards, and many local shops have shaping rooms. But there are still real shapers out there, who take pride in perfecting the craft.
Many proud brands (like Channel Island or JS) produce top of the line surfboards, and they all must rightly be considered as the best in their field. They have small nuances, making some shapers preferred by some surfers, while other surfers have other preferences.
It’s the old Gibson vs Fender, different strokes for different blokes- kind of story. I have my personal favorite and its Firewire. I have no commercial interests in making this statement, nor do I claim to know all shapers out there. So be aware that this is only my humble opinion, not the universal truth (even though I think it is).
But why? I’m glad you asked. Here is why I think the best surfboard in the world, most probably has a Firewire Surfboard logo on it somewhere.
The man behind Firewire Surfboards, Nev Hyman, is a true legend. In 1975 Nev started Odyssey Surfboards in Perth, West Australia. After a couple of years, he changed the name to Nev Surfboards, which in 1998 became Nev Future Shapes.
In the beginning, Nev was perhaps most known as a Christ-centered company and a tagline including the word “neva”. But as his shaping skills evolved, so did his business. He Put together a team of highly talented surfers, including Sonny Garcia. He promoted his surfers as “Future Champions”, and as we all know, in 2000 Sonny became world champion.
Besides being recognized as one the best shapers in the world, Nev is equally known as being a pioneer in the development of an automated shaping process. In the early 90’s, computer-shaped boards were not generally recognized in the surf community, and both surfers and shapers argued that hand shaped boards had more “magic” than machine-made boards. Nev argued that he always shaped the prototype, including the magic. Problem is, if you make a magic board, it is impossible to recreate that board by hand. This new technology enabled him to produce exact replicas of magic carpets. So he helped create the APS3000 / AKU Shaper which is now the industry standard.
In 2004 Nev folded Nev Future Shapes and went all in on creating a new approach to making surfboards. Nev and Bert Burger started a company devoted to making the best possible surfboards possible. They started by redesigning the surfboard from the ground up, bending the rules in order to achieve perfection. Voila, Firewire Surfboards was born.
In 1994 Nev built the largest surfboard ever, and today he is deeply involved with building sustainable houses. But when he is not saving the planet, he still shapes for Firewire. But as he claims, his shapers are so good, that he doesn’t wish to compete with them.
All Firewire Surfboards are constructed using Expanded Polystyrene Foam. The core of the boards is also essential to the design of Firewire Surfboards. A heavier core makes the board both more responsive and stable during rail changes.
Firewire relies on the Future Shapes Technology Parabolic Balsa Rails to control flexibility. These boards also use high-density aerospace composite foam that is vacuum-attached to both the bottom and the top decks of the board. This adds significant strength the final surfboard and is more durable than polyurethane surfboards.
The rails are created from 12mm balsa wood and shaped into 3 x 4mm strips that control flex, add strength and allow the board to be protected from rail dings. This allows the board to be durable and retain its ‘feel’ for an extended amount of time.
Perhaps most known for his innovative designs, and his thoughts on the the physics of surfing are DANIEL THOMSON (TOMO). In recent years Daniel has challenged the traditional concepts by introducing radical new designs, pushing the entire evolution of the sport forward. But Firewire also houses shapers such as DAN MANN, JON PYZEL, MARK MARTINSON, and GREG WEBBER.
Firewire is also working closely together with the best surfers this planet has ever produced. Both Rob Machado and Kelly Slater are shaping Firewire surfboards, riding their own designs and testing out new possibilities.
Basically Firewire has organised their Board selection in two categories, one based on customised designs from different shapers. The other category offers a vide variety of boards, meeting the general needs of a vide variety of surfers.
The more traditional range of boards includes the following categories: PERFORMANCE, GROVELER, GROM, EVERYDAY, CROSSOVER and STEP UP. These boards are made for everybody. You can find the perfect board for small waves, big waves, the inexperienced, the pro, the young and the old.
I know this says absolutely nothing about Firewire surfboards, but still, if the best surfers in the world ride Firewire, then it must be a little more than just all right. And the rooster is quite impressive.
First and foremost the king of the sport, Kelly Slater both designs and rides Firewire. But other pro surfers such as Michel Bourez and Stu Kennedy are on the team. As mentioned surf- style icon Rob Machado also both rides and shapes Firewire surfboards. Timmy Reyes shreds Firewire, and one of the biggest superstars of the sport, Wingnut, also rides Firewire longboards.
Firewire Surfboards are respected for the effort they put into producing eco-friendly boards. All Firewire Surfboards are constructed using Expanded Polystyrene Foam. This material is more environmentally friendly than polyurethane and can also be recycled. In addition, Firewire boards use only epoxy resins because they emit an estimated 2 percent of the volatile organic compounds that polyurethane resins do.
All boards produced by Firewire meets the standard of ECOBOARD Certification.
From 2018 Firewire will use REREZ which is a recyclable epoxy resin. Any fiberglass, carbon, or EPS product manufactured with REREZ (for example a surfboard) can be submerged into a concentrated vinegar solution that dissolves the REREZ epoxy into liquid and separates it from the product it was laminated to.
Granted, Firewire surfboards are a little pricey, but in reality, they cost about the same as any other high-end brand. So the question is, do you get more bang for your buck?
Back in the days, I imported 10 Nev Future shapes. Back then we only had 1 other Surfboard brand in our area (from a renowned brand), and The Nev Future Shapes smoked them. The Future Shapes held 2-3 times longer than other brands, they were shaped to perfection, and the graphics were unbelievable.
I believe that Firewire still honors the originalv alues from back then. And they have kept pushing the standard, often being frontrunners in the industry. It seems as if Firewire didn’t accept status quo, always trying to optimize every aspect of the surfboard. Better shapes, better materials, better durability, better flexibility, more sustainability etc.
As stated in the beginning, I am not saying my opinion is the universal truth, but the way I see it Firewire Surfboards houses the best shapers in the world, the best surfers, and is by far the most progressive in the shaping business. At the same time, Firewire Surfboards always puts quality above everything else.
Granted many of our readers know how to surf. But I for one wish that somebody gave me a rundown of all the small tips and tricks.
Looking back on my own mistakes, I realise a lot of them could have been avoided, if only I took the time to digest some of the basic knowledge in surfing.