No B.S. Summary
The Sweet Potato is the board you should always bring on a surf check, and you'll find yourself ripping on small days where you'd otherwise go home
No B.S. Review
Sweet Potato-itis: a regenerative condition induced when riding a Firewire Sweet Potato Surfboard. Symptoms include: non-stop smiling, uncontrollable amounts of stoke, catching and claiming the smallest of waves, and more fun than you can handle in a single session! Please Note: For smiles that last more than 6 hrs. please consult a physician!!!!
Firewire has quickly become an industry leader in surfboard technology, design, and overall popularity. Their winning combination of R&D, craftsmanship, quality, and performance are why more and more people are gravitating towards the brand. Their boards have been test piloted and refined by some of the world's best and most influential surfers and shapers and they have been proven in almost any conditions; from World Tour events to your own home break, Firewire is making an impact and taking the surf world by storm!
A while back I reviewed a Firewire Dominator with their Rapid Fire technology. The Rapid Fire series is very recognizable and stands out with it's signature bamboo decking. The board is amazing and I never do a surf check without it! The Rapid Fire technology is so responsive and I really do feel that it adds a performance edge that you otherwise could not get on a board without it. I have also yet to go to the beach with it and not have someone comment on how beautiful the board and bamboo deck are! Although I am a huge fan of the RF series, Firewire also has a few other construction methods that I have been eager to try. With this in mind I reached out to our friends at Firewire and asked to try something with their FST technology. The boys said that they had just the board in mind and told me that they would be sending a Sweet Potato out for a test drive.
I have to be honest, the name scared me a bit and when I looked at it online, I was still a bit skeptical it would even surf! But Firewire hasn't let me down yet and when I saw that it was another Dan Mann design I just knew it would be good! Dan also designed the Dominator and a number of other boards at Firewire. His approach to functionality, volume distribution, hydrodynamics, and overall esthetics can't be found anywhere else in the surf industry and if he puts his name on something, I guarantee it surfs well!
The board arrived quickly and I immediately fell in love. The pictures online do not do it any justice and you have to see it to believe. The first observation is the stepped deck. Again, Dan's unique approach on volume distribution allows the board to have more performance rails with enough foam under your belly to catch anything. The next stand-out feature is the rails themselves. Laminated in bamboo, they create the original parabolic stringer that Firewire is known for. The ride they produce is much different than a board with a traditional center stringer and it has become a favorite and preferred choice for many. The hull is just as impressive and exhibits a trait not commonly seen; a sculpted ridge runs down the center of the board which ultimately creates the effect of two separate hulls. It just looks cool and it completely changed my outlook on board design. The last thing I looked for during this first inspection was the vent. I have received more reader e-mails asking about the vent on the FST models than anything else! However, after looking the Sweet Potato over from stem to stern I could not find one. I reached out the team and got the following response… “As part of our QC process, we bake our boards at high temperature before the vents are installed – this allows the resin to cure properly, and tests for any weakness in the sandwich. Under the high heat, the air inside the core expands and places pressure on the bond between the core and the skins. If there is a weakness there, the board literally blows up as the skin separates from the core. Despite our intention to err on the side of caution, our boards were not blowing up during the curing process so we began to test them without valves through actual use, and the results were great. We therefore recently decided to stop installing the vents and we've had no issues. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the vented boards – obviously there was some inventory already at retail and in our warehouse when we made the change so some of those are still out there. And anyone who purchased a vented board will be fine”. I hope that answers everyone's questions on the vents. And with that out of the way…it was time for some field testing!!!
Testing took place over a few months and was conducted by myself and a few other staffers. The results all of us achieved while riding the Sweet Potato just blew our minds! First off, the board is shorter than anything I have ridden outside of a handplane. Coming in at 5'6” I was really unsure if I would be able to get up on it but again, going back to Dan's design philosophy, there is basically the same amount of foam in their 506 that there is in my standard shortboard over 6ft. The unique lines and sculpting of this board offers a lower drag coefficient and a fairly dynamic surface planing area, similar to an old school plaining hull but with a modern twist. This combination results in higher speeds with just about everything you do on this board; from paddling to riding, the Sweet Potato is just so fast and smooth! A strategically placed quad set up completes the equation and brings superior control and bite to the ride. The fins sit unusually close to the outside rail line and tail of the board, but there is a method to the madness. When combined with the double barrel channels, it creates a multi hull experience which makes rail to rail transitions, top and bottom turns, and managing the crazy speed effortless and very user friendly. To summarize the ride of the sweet potato: It holds a really high line of trim, generates an immense amount of speed, turns on a dime, and gives the rider an artistic and creative freedom they have never had before.
As far as durability goes, the FST construction is absolutely bullet proof and I am confident saying that it is the strongest construction method I have tested so far!!! None of us could get a knee knocker or dent in the deck and the hull is just as strong. The overall compression strength is incredible and there is no give when squeezed. However, it still somehow generates an amazing amount of whip and flex when needed and it loads up and redistributes the energy reliably and efficiently. The wood rails of the FST also help with the overall durability, helping to deal with any rail dings or tail/nose cancer.
As you all know, I'm very lucky to have the opportunity to test a lot of boards and this is one of the most impressive surf craft I've had the chance to ride so far. It will make 1-3 ft. days feel more like a skate park and give you no reason to break out the longboard or SUP! In closing, SweetPotato-itis is a very serious condition and there is a lot of it going around. It can strike surfers of any age or race and it is highly contagious!!! Check out the Sweet Potato and Firewire's entire line of exciting boards today and do yourself a favor and get one today!!! As always, thanks for reading and be sure to tell a friend…- Shaper