Welcome to the weird world of the Firewire Vanguard. Local ripper Bruce Campbell got himself one, and I just had to find out more about this crazy looking thing...
Ok, let’s start by admitting this has to be one of the oddest looking surfboards to hit the waves in a looong time! Give us a quick heads-up on what it’s called and the dimensions.
Ya, I completely agree! First time I laid eyes on the board, I laughed at its awkward features. It is called the ‘Vanguard’ Firewire by Tomo Surfboards. It has a thruster and quad fin option.
5' 4" x 18" x 2 1/4" Volume: 25.9 L
And what’s the story behind its design? Just someone drinking too many Jagermeisters one night and hitting the shaping bay with a moerse hangover the next day?
The original board design comes from the shaper Daniel Thomson. Thomson has forged his reputation on blending the design principles of the thruster - those three-finned, wave-destroying machines that have become standard issue on surfing's World Tour - with the speed and flow of the 1950s-inspired planing hulls and fishes that have come back into vogue over the past decade. The boards look downright futuristic, some of them resembling fighter jets. Stu Kennedy (pro surfer) was over at Thomsons house for a party and Stu started digging through his boards and when he found this design he simply got up and left and went straight to the beach. It has just grown from there onwards.
So how did you end up coming to be the proud owner of the double-ended flying machine?
I had been looking at it on the net quite a bit and watching all the different You tube videos on the board and listening to peoples interviews and it got me interested. So I went to the Country Feeling shop in J-Bay where all the Firewires are and tested out the demo board, I surfed it for about an hour and got out the water and went straight to shop and got myself one.
Looking decidedly weird is one thing, but how does this board actually go?
Well I was really uncertain on how it would go, I thought it may be a bit loose or won’t be able to turn critically off the top, but 1 hour on the demo and I was sold! It is ridiculously fast, as soon as you get to your feet the board just goes, got so much drive. I first started off doing some big carves and cut backs on it to try and get use to the speed and then I had to put it to the test on the bottom turn. So I took off on a decent size wave out at Seals and went as hard as I can off the bottom to see if it will slide out and it didn’t, it went off the bottom so well.
It is lightening fast off the lip and it holds its rail all the way through a turn. The parallel lines of the board reduces drag and thus lifting the nose up out the water, so to help generate more speed. The tail has a twin diamond tail profile which is super sharp and really bites when you put it on the rail. With the reduced nose swing of the board it goes incredible in the air as well, super quick to pop out the water and rotating is made easier with the reduced length of the board.
What sort of conditions is it ideally suited to? Does it like to carve or fly?
I initially got it for smaller PE waves but I have been surfing it in all types of surf out here in St Francis, I’ve surfed it in 1-2 foot soft Seal point and then also 4-5ft foot bumpy howling onshore Seal point. Took it out at solid Bruce’s and it just held its line so well, then recently put it through a big test of heaving 4-5 foot beachie barrels and it went amazingly, just had so much drive from the take-off and making barrels was just too easy. Not once has the board skimmed out on me which I thought it would do.
Is this something that will be your go-to board now, or you’ll only pull it out in certain conditions?
This will most certainly be my go-to board now, unless surfing anything bigger than solid 6-8 foot then I may look at one of my bigger boards.
Length-wise – do guys go for the same length as their normal shortboard – or do you ride it a bit shorter?
Quite a bit shorter than your normal board, my normal board is generally a 5’10 and this board is 5’4 so that is quite short but you would not be able to tell that it’s so small when you're surfing it.
Do you have to be a hot surfer to really get the most outta the board, or do you reckon it’s also got a place in joe-averages quiver as well?
No, I reckon everyone should have one of these boards in their quiver. Because the board is narrower than your normal board it forces you to surf on the rail, which is where all your good surfing comes from-on the rail. After riding this board for a few days and then I went back to my normal board, I surfed better on my normal board because I kept the board on the rail the whole time.
Shot Bruce - good to know the ironing board surfs like a real board!
n.1. the front part of an advancing army.
2. the forefront in any field.
3. the leaders of any intellectual or political movement.
[1480–90; earlier van(d)gard(e) < Middle French avangarde, variant of avant-garde]