Customizing Firewires

The Spitfire is now customizable. Firewire

Ever met people who ride Firewire Surfboards? They love Firewire Surfboards, and for good reason. Surfboards have pretty much been the same construction for fifty years. Sure there have been some diversions from the common polyurethane coated polyester, but Firewire is the only one that has really been taken seriously by the high performance surfing world. I can't think of any example of a surfer riding anything but your average foam and fiberglass stick at in professional competition, but you have Taj Burrow and Michel Bourez riding Firewire boards on the World Tour. That represents a major shift.

But for the average surfer, the one drawback to Firewires was that you had to ride a model from the Firewire line. The future-forward construction didn't allow for a shaper to shave rails or tweak noses to your liking.

That is until now. If you ride a board from Nev Hyman and crew, this is the best thing since sliced parabolic carbon rod suspension systems. It's the Firewire Custom Board Design.

The best way to sum it up my experience is to relay a conversation I had with a friend around the same time I ordered my stick. I ran into him in a surf shop (our local Firewire Dealer) He told me had had just ordered a new Firewire and I told him about the Custom Board Design Program.

--"I got a 6'0 Spitfire," he told me.

--"Yeah, I ordered the 5'11," I said.

--"Oh man. I actually wanted a 5'11," he replied.

And therein lies the beauty. You can pick your favorite stock board and custom design the dimensions. Say you've always wanted a 6'2 Flexfire with the tail pulled in .12 inches -- you're welcomed to it. Heck, pull it in a half-inch if you want. Get yourself a 5'8 version of the Michel Bourez model at 18.75 inches wide. You can go nuts.

Obviously, you can't order a 7' Gromflex, but that's probably a good thing. Noses and tails can be changed up to an inch. Boards can be ordered 1/8-inch thinner or ¼ inch fatter than the stock, so as to not throw off the foils and keep you from ordering some oddball board from that just won't work.

I decided to go with something for the short wedgy beachbreak waves here in the fall and spring. This isn't for those big days, but the in-between sessions when it's peaky and steep without much of a line. So, I picked the Spitfire. I went with a very wide 19 ¾ and a thin 2 3/8. I pulled in the diamond tail as much as the program would allow. The idea is to get into waves early and have a board that fits into the barrel of a wave that might only last four seconds. (Like most boards, barrel riding skills are not included, to my chagrin.)

My numbers were loaded into a program that spit out a 3-dimensional computer animated drawing of my Spitfire. I was able to flip it around and look at it from every angle. It was like feeling the rails of the board if you're shaper was R2-D2.

A few months later, I had a custom board from the company known for a stock selection. And just like sticks from your favorite shaper, it says "For Jon" on the rails. Granted the board would be a lot happier if it said "For Taj," but that's life. It's going to have to deal with my heavy feet and slow take offs.

And like all Firewires, it's built to last with better durability than most boards coming out of California factories at a competitive price. The customs have control flex, Firewire's standard fiberglass and epoxy resin, high-density aerospace composite core, and those trademark parabolic balsa rails. That same friend I saw in the shop abused his in Costa Rica this winter and came back looking basically the same. So like I said, if you're a Firewire guy, this is your day.

Summertime doesn't really allow for those little pitching tubes I intended the board for, but I did get to put the custom through the paces in some waist to chest-high summer trade swell in shallow sand spit-style waves. She paddles like a champ and gets in early. I ordered the five-fin option and thus far have only ridden it as a quad. Not sure how it really feels in a turn yet, but the added "pop" is something each surfer has to feel out for himself.

The custom board will cost $75 more than your stock Firewire. You can order your custom today at Firewiresurfboards.com/Customs.