Legendary surfer/shaper reviews Firewire Surfboards

surfwhere

Gerry Lopez status
Aug 5, 2008
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Not my words, copied from a review conversation about Firewire from a real surfboard legend

Firewire make cheap shitty boards in Thailand , and then put their stock on consignment in all shops world wide.....consignment, not sales.....this has ruined the surfboard commercial world as we know it!
Kelly has had the most negative affect, of any single person in History , in fucking the Shapers/surfers/designers all the way down to the future of all surfboard makers....as his shitty boards have no succession/shaper/designer future plan/career for young up and coming surfers who have a passion for design /surfboard making.
For the surfboard industry, Kelly was/is and will be the malevolent evil that brought a cottage industry to it's knees......he uses Mark Price as his hitman and buffer between him and the worlds most unsustainable surfboards, so that for a few extra $'s Kelly is richer......but there is no-one in surfing that has disrespected shaper/designers/surfboard makers than Kelly.......a parasite on surfing , yeah!!!

Will someone really ask me what I really think?

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Yes there are shapers who are doing fine as they have new , more better designs , the innovative ones, but when I talk to the Blank makers/glass shops and shapers the last 6 mths has seen sales fall off a cliff.......
The problem is Firewire make their boards really cheap , sell them really expensive and fill stores( as the ask for at least 40% of floor space) with their product so a couple of the other brands have to do the same ......consignment is a very unhealthy business principle.
The good news is that a lot of shapers like myself have created a much smaller business model, do not wholesale , only do direct sales , and don't need to do as many boards.
The downside to being creative/innovative is boards are extremely expensive as there is much smaller supply ,and demand is up. This is when we get to a point and only rich people can afford the boards , so that becomes available in retail store is just Pop outs.....so people just get used to mediocrity, which in turn has stifled career paths for youger people who want to shape and glass.

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any shaper in their mid 30's is barely getting started........it's people like Kelly who try to suck the soul out of us surfer/designer/shapers , by exterminating and brazenly smashing any and all commercial relationships with retail we have built over the last couple of decades/

Kelly Slater/Mark Price/Firewire the anti-Christ of the Surfboard Industry!
 

Duffy LaCoronilla

Duke status
Apr 27, 2016
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1. Who is this shaper?

2. 40% of floor space? Either the shops I go to that carry FW are “cheating” or this statement is false.

3.If consignment is so bad why would a shop take the deal (maybe that isn’t the deal I don’t know).

4. FW started putting color on their boards. I know why. The ones in the shop would sit so long they’d turn yellow.

5. I still rarely see anyone on FWs.

6. I agree with much of the rest. People are willing to “accept mediocrity“ but in reality 99% of surfers will never progress beyond a mediocre skill level and not because of the boards they ride.

7. Ordering a custom surfboard is still (in 2022) one of the shittiest customer service experiences in any industry even when everything goes smoothly.
 

oeste858

Miki Dora status
Sep 11, 2017
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San Diego, CA
pretty meaningless rant without knowing the source. Might as well be any one of us every 6 months when FW comes up in a thread. LOL

:cursing:
There's just way more boar options for consumers now, including FW. Surfers aren't limited to their local town's shapers anymore. See something you like on Instagram? Go to the website, or can reach out to the shaper (wherever they are in the world), dial in dims, and order that boar within the hour. I've got way too many boars the last 10 years, and 96% of them were shaped and made within 15-90min drive from me. But I've also ordered a custom from Akila in HI and Tomo in OZ. Not something available at my local shop. While it's fun to browse the stock boars occasionally, I'd venture to guess that most of us now don't buy their boar OTR at the shop. The FWs may fill some % of the racks, but we all know the shops make their money on clothes and softgoods.
Vote with your wallet. dont like em, dont buy em!
 

jory

OTF status
Aug 13, 2006
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3.If consignment is so bad why would a shop take the deal (maybe that isn’t the deal I don’t know).

5. I still rarely see anyone on FWs.

6. I agree with much of the rest. People are willing to “accept mediocrity“ but in reality 99% of surfers will never progress beyond a mediocre skill level and not because of the boards they ride.

7. Ordering a custom surfboard is still (in 2022) one of the shittiest customer service experiences in any industry even when everything goes smoothly.
3- Consignment does work for the shops, that’s the point he’s making. The shop doesn’t need to pay up front for inventory with FW and take the financial risk of the inventory not selling thus protecting the shop owner. This dis-incentivises shops to carry smaller / local brands who need to be paid for the stock on delivery to the shop in order to keep their own cash flow going.

5- Maybe not in So Cal but they are a significant proportion of the boards you see over here.

6- This is totally true but the point being made is that those mediocre surfers often aren’t connected to the “core culture” and will buy whatever the obvious choice is - that used to be the small local guys, now it’s FW.

7- Not always but I agree, many shapers could do A LOT better!
 
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Duffy LaCoronilla

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Apr 27, 2016
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3. I have to buy all the parts that sell to my clients up front. Running a business is hard.

5. I’m sorry to hear that. Really. FW can blow me.

6. The small local guys fuckked themselves for the most part. When I started surfing (1980) buying from a shaper was down right scary. If you even looked at ‘em the wrong way you were fuckked.

7. See #6.
 

jory

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Aug 13, 2006
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3. I have to buy all the parts that sell to my clients up front. Running a business is hard.

5. I’m sorry to hear that. Really. FW can blow me.

6. The small local guys fuckked themselves for the most part. When I started surfing (1980) buying from a shaper was down right scary. If you even looked at ‘em the wrong way you were fuckked.

7. See #6.
3- of course you do, so do I but imagine if someone offered to let you sell 40% of your parts before you had to pay for them yourself. Would be hard to say no wouldn’t it?

5- yes!

6&7 I agree that’s true. There’s a wider conversation here about surfing moving from a somewhat underground culture based activity to a “hobby” that people pick up like golf / tennis. Mark Price was just better at spotting this happening and exploiting it than many of the “core” guys.
 

ULUSURFER

Gerry Lopez status
Jan 2, 2007
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7. Ordering a custom surfboard is still (in 2022) one of the shittiest customer service experiences in any industry even when everything goes smoothly.
I still dont understand why this doesnt get more attention. Most shapers are miserable at running businesses. Even ordering from a multi million dollar global company like lost sucks. As if they cant figure out how to improve their ordering experience and learn to set expectations around delivery. other industries would get thrashed but this sh!t is ok in the surfboard industry?

- Why do so many shapers still get things wrong on custom orders? Wrong fins, wrong color, wrong volume, wrong dims?

-Why do so many shapers take months without proper updates and then blame their subcontractors for the problem?

-Lie about status of the boards when asked?

-No proper tracking systems and everything is a handshake bro deal?

If shapers want to improve their businesses they need to improve the ordering experience. For most average surfers custom ordering a board would be a total disaster and not even improve the quality of equipment or surfing level.

Firewire originally started to bring technology to the surfboard world. You all seem to forget that at the time their boards were space age tech when most shapers were building crap quality PU boards. Firewire performed better and was far far more durable than anything on the market at the time. Also when started 100% of boards were made in San Diego and in Currumbin and costed more than they do now from thailand. At one point after moving to thailand they ever tried to offer custom orders but it failed.
  • Im not going to justify the rest of the stuff because I cant. But one thing they did right is not price their boards below market rates which makes other boards in the shop competitively priced.
 
Oct 5, 2021
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here In oz FW seems to have been on a downhill slide in popularity for last 5 years, apart from seasides (which do seem very popular) and the odd dominator rarely see them out in the lineup now. probably overrepresented by the average surfer but apart from tomos they hardly have a decent hp shortboard in their range anymore. Still in the shops but usually way more sharpeyes, JS and CIs on the racks… find it hard to relate to most of these comments TBH, local shapers like chilli, psillakis and Warner all seem to be doing fine around Syd northern beaches. If FW doing consignment suspect all the other big labels are as well
 
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ciscojaws

Michael Peterson status
Jul 28, 2008
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Kook City, VA
I still dont understand why this doesnt get more attention. Most shapers are miserable at running businesses. Even ordering from a multi million dollar global company like lost sucks. As if they cant figure out how to improve their ordering experience and learn to set expectations around delivery. other industries would get thrashed but this sh!t is ok in the surfboard industry?

- Why do so many shapers still get things wrong on custom orders? Wrong fins, wrong color, wrong volume, wrong dims?

-Why do so many shapers take months without proper updates and then blame their subcontractors for the problem?

-Lie about status of the boards when asked?

-No proper tracking systems and everything is a handshake bro deal?

If shapers want to improve their businesses they need to improve the ordering experience. For most average surfers custom ordering a board would be a total disaster and not even improve the quality of equipment or surfing level.

Firewire originally started to bring technology to the surfboard world. You all seem to forget that at the time their boards were space age tech when most shapers were building crap quality PU boards. Firewire performed better and was far far more durable than anything on the market at the time. Also when started 100% of boards were made in San Diego and in Currumbin and costed more than they do now from thailand. At one point after moving to thailand they ever tried to offer custom orders but it failed.
  • Im not going to justify the rest of the stuff because I cant. But one thing they did right is not price their boards below market rates which makes other boards in the shop competitively priced.
How often is there a post on here of an adult terrified about asking the shaper what the status of his board that, for some reason, he paid 100% up front for?
 

tedshred5

Michael Peterson status
Aug 5, 2015
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A few guys I know who are on Firewires are white collar dudes with kids who don't pour over board design minutiae. (they often look at me with blank stares when I refer to shapers/boards I'm discussing on the erbb) They surf 1-2x a week b/c of family duties and wanna pop into a surf shop and grab something off the rack that is perceived to last longer and is more "tech"-y. They're also adults with normal jobs so they don't mind paying a slightly above market price. Also, they all grew up surfing and are competent/good surfers, who didn't just pick it up in the last few years.
 

rgruber

Michael Peterson status
May 30, 2004
3,436
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This.

Most custom experiences I've had are terrible. Lost being the worst offender.

I'm certainly not a firewire fan and I've had some good custom experiences, but I dread ordering a custom for the reasons stated.

My solution has been to buy off the rack unless what I want is just not available. Being on the east coast and ordering predominately west coast boards is definitely part of the issue. But I've had instances when I've ordered from big name shapers while they were on an east coast tour and spoken to them personally and still had them screw up.

There aren't a lot of shapers in my area and some of them are decidedly less skilled or simply have less experience than their west coast brethern so ordering local isn't really a solution. I don't want a lesser product.

The level of shaper BS wouldn't be tolerated in any other industry.

Props to people like Pyzel who manage to do big volume and still pay attention to detail and deliver on customs as well. But they are an exception not the rule.

I still dont understand why this doesnt get more attention. Most shapers are miserable at running businesses. Even ordering from a multi million dollar global company like lost sucks. As if they cant figure out how to improve their ordering experience and learn to set expectations around delivery. other industries would get thrashed but this sh!t is ok in the surfboard industry?

- Why do so many shapers still get things wrong on custom orders? Wrong fins, wrong color, wrong volume, wrong dims?

-Why do so many shapers take months without proper updates and then blame their subcontractors for the problem?

-Lie about status of the boards when asked?

-No proper tracking systems and everything is a handshake bro deal?

If shapers want to improve their businesses they need to improve the ordering experience. For most average surfers custom ordering a board would be a total disaster and not even improve the quality of equipment or surfing level.

Firewire originally started to bring technology to the surfboard world. You all seem to forget that at the time their boards were space age tech when most shapers were building crap quality PU boards. Firewire performed better and was far far more durable than anything on the market at the time. Also when started 100% of boards were made in San Diego and in Currumbin and costed more than they do now from thailand. At one point after moving to thailand they ever tried to offer custom orders but it failed.
  • Im not going to justify the rest of the stuff because I cant. But one thing they did right is not price their boards below market rates which makes other boards in the shop competitively priced.
 

jory

OTF status
Aug 13, 2006
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A few guys I know who are on Firewires are white collar dudes with kids who don't pour over board design minutiae. (they often look at me with blank stares when I refer to shapers/boards I'm discussing on the erbb) They surf 1-2x a week b/c of family duties and wanna pop into a surf shop and grab something off the rack that is perceived to last longer and is more "tech"-y. They're also adults with normal jobs so they don't mind paying a slightly above market price. Also, they all grew up surfing and are competent/good surfers, who didn't just pick it up in the last few years.
That’s kinda partly what I was trying to get at.

People who do sports / hobbies are used to there being a couple of large market leading companies in the space who provide the best tech in high volume - think specialised for bikes or head for tennis racquets, sure there’s an equivalent in golf.

People buy those products because they are the biggest company with the newest “tech” and biggest marketing budgets. It’s only the very elite in those sports who would have anything custom from a small builder (& then often on the quiet with their sponsors logos on) . Your average tennis player would not believe that “chuck” is making a superior racquet in his shed down the block.

Plenty of people (not on erBB) would expect the same in surfing, FW have positioned themselves as this with aggressive marketing, new “tech” and aggressive targeting of retail space ( see consignment above ) and premium pricing. They’ve backed this up with lots of inventory and you can just buy off the rack without the random surfer labour roulette game a custom order can entail.

And to be fair, you rarely hear that any of their boards are “bad” shapes. The seaside and the seaside & beyond all seem to get universally positive feedback in my experience
 

jkb

Kelly Slater status
Feb 22, 2005
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Central California
Yes there are shapers who are doing fine as they have new , more better designs , the innovative ones, but when I talk to the Blank makers/glass shops and shapers the last 6 mths has seen sales fall off a cliff.......
People love to make FW the boogie man.

Sales have not been falling the last 6 months because of FW. That's total bullshit.

Sales have been falling because there was an unprecedented run on boards when free money was being given out in 2020 and 2021. Shapers were busier than they had ever been. No one was complaining about FW taking their business then, BTW. Now things are cooling off and people aren't willing to spend like they were.

In the wise words of Matt Biolos......"shut up and make a better board."
 

EastCoastBrah

OTF status
Nov 16, 2020
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6. I agree with much of the rest. People are willing to “accept mediocrity“ but in reality 99% of surfers will never progress beyond a mediocre skill level and not because of the boards they ride.

7. Ordering a custom surfboard is still (in 2022) one of the shittiest customer service experiences in any industry even when everything goes smoothly.
This is what gets me. half the people on firewires can barely stand up, why buy the most expensive board on the rack?

Part of it is #7, part of it's marketing. Part of it is the shop pushing higher margin boards?

5. I still rarely see anyone on FWs.
I see tons of FWs
 

GromsDad

Duke status
Jan 21, 2014
44,669
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West of the Atlantic. East of the ICW.
Sometime soon the paradigm will change again. Shipping boards all over the globe makes zero sense to me in 2022. Perhaps it will be regional cutting machines cutting boards on demand for local glassers to finish or it could be something that poops finished boards out of a 3D printer.

Gotta call bullshit on the opening post though even though I hate firewire and think very little of Price. The opening post doesn't comport with reality or what I see in my local surf shops......even the ones that carry firewire.