Board Review #2 | Firewire’s Evo Helium

As you’ve probably heard through our social media and newsletter, Witch’s Rock has opened a new surf shop right across from El Vaquero and it’s STOCKED with brand new surfboards and equipment. Witch’s Rock guests now have an extensive selection of Al Merricks, Torqs, and Firewires. In total, we’ve got about 50 new shred sticks to ride in addition to the 250 in the board cage

One of the benefits of working for Witch’s Rock Surf Camp is having access to a wide range boards, and if the boss is in a good mood, we can grab one for some “quality assurance testing.”  As we sit here during the last week of February, the South Pacific has come back to life and there is a solid SSW ground swell in the water (3.5 ft at 16 seconds from 214°). I figured this would be an excellent opportunity to test out another board in our new quiver.

For my second review, I grabbed a 5’5 Evo by Firewire. Here are the full dimensions for all the surfboard nerds out there.

5’5 height by 19 1/2 width by 2 1/2 thickness with 30.5 Liters of volume.

Here is how the board performed in head high to slightly overhead right handers at a local reef-break. Wind was light onshore so a bit mushy but long lines and open walls.

Catching Waves

This board’s unique shape is referred to as a “modern planing hull” which is a fancy way to describe it’s compressed shape and lack of traditional nose.  This shape allows more foam compressed in the center and nose of the board which helped me stroke into waves a little easier. Also, the Helium technology makes the board so light and buoyant that planed quickly once I started paddling to push me over the edge.

Speed

This board is undeniably fast. Even though I was surfing powerful waves that naturally provided speed, the board maintained its pace when the wave got fat and also when I performed big swooping roundhouse cutbacks. I was able to go further out on the shoulder of the wave and swoop back to the white water as a one-stage turn and no fluttering or unnecessary pumping.  The Evo has distinct channels running the length of the bottom of the board. You can see that it’s double concave leading to a quad concave through the tail. I feel these concaves allowed better water displacement riding over the bumpy onshore wave faces and propelled me through my turns.

Turns

As I mentioned in the previous section, doing wrapping cutbacks and smacking the white water on the rebound was my maneuver of choice. The board maintained its speed and with a little weight on the tail, I could slide the fins out at the end of my turns. When presented with a vertical section in the pocket of the wave, the Evo felt a little too beefy and tail-wide to hit the lip and flick the fins out the back. Instead, it felt easier to do a transitional floater.

Ideal Surf Conditions

The conditions that I surfed today were pretty dreamy for the 5’5 Evo. Powerful walls with a medium pace, light onshore winds, and lots of room to do cutbacks and floaters. Understanding that everyone doesn’t have an overhead right-hand point break nearby, this board would also shine in average waist – chest high mushy waves that you find on the East Coast in the Summertime.  Without much effort the board picks up speed, glides through flat sections and parts water like Moses.

Overall Rating

This was a new experience for me. I’m pretty faithful to my standard short board so trying out this unique modern planing shape with the exaggerated bottom channels was refreshing. I loved how the board paddled and caught waves along with doing big swooping turns with speed.  My favorite waves were the ones where I could put a little more weight on my back foot taking advantage of the maneuverability and trying  to link turns together without any pumping. This board would work well in anything from 2 – 10 foot faces making it an excellent all-around groveler.

I give this board an 9 out of 10.

Want to get down here and try these new boards out yourself? It’s as easy as contacting our reservations office and we’ll set you up with the surf trip of a lifetime. With access to aver 300 boards, you can dial into your perfect dimensions before spending money on a new board. I hope you enjoyed my first board review. Let’s hope there are more “extended lunch breaks” in the future.

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