Daniel ‘Tomo’ Thomson’s latest and greatest Modern Planing Hull design, the Tomo Surfboards Vader (leveraging Firewire Surfboards LFT construction technology) takes flight…literally.
The latest model from the budding partnership between Tomo Surfboards and Firewire Surfboards (Read more about the evolution of the Firewire Surfboards + Tomo Surfboards partnership here), this is the first pure Tomo Surfboards branded model launched in Firewire LFT construction…I hope the first of many!
+ Dynamic dynamite in the water. Instant acceleration, point and shoot precision – it allows me to ‘punch above my belt’ in the surf. I was pulling off manoeuvres on this Tomo Surfboards Vader that usually elude me (or happen by accident…)
+ Parallel rail modern planing hull design creates less drag (think less rocker but applying that effect to the boards outline) makes this one of the fastest accelerating boards I’ve ridden
+ Versatile design feels very comfortable and fast on fatter, smaller, weaker wave faces but gets serious when you need it in more solid, powerful, hollow surf
+ Bottom contours geared to react instantly to rider feedback (see images below, the contours on this thing are wild!)
– While I’m sold on the modern planing hull design, I admit it always takes some getting used to a board with such a drastically different aspect ratio. Psychologically, you have to push through the comfort barrier of not having a nose. While this doesn’t really have anything to do with the very capable design, it can take away some confidence if you think you’re going to pearl the nose on every takeoff…but rest assured, you won’t
The Tomo Surfboards Vader at 6’1 x 20 1/8 x 2 7/8 @ 43.5L’s of volume. This is larger than I would normally ride this style of board. I made the decision to go bigger after processing the Matt Biolos, My Quiver Series and realising that I may actually be still riding boards that are too small. I’m glad I did…I wouldn’t change a thing about this Vader.
I tried a few fin setups with my Vader. First, I went with my tried and true favourite quad setup, the Futures Rasta Quads . Then, for variety, I popped in the new Futures EA Blackstix 3.0 thruster fins up front with quad trailer in the back. Finally, I went with the straight EA Blackstix thruster setup. Although you know well by now that I generally prefer quads, I actually preferred the extra hold and precision of the EA Blackstix thrusters in the Vader.
Best Wave Type
Stomach high to overhead. The modern planing hull design loves sucky barrels but also easily dominates flatter, weak sections
- The latest and greatest evolution of Daniel ‘Tomo’ Thomson’s Modern Planing Hull designs. The Modern Planing Hull (MPH) promises a “freer, faster and more intuitive ride.”
- Intricate bottom contours channel water like a jet engine
- More generous foil versus the Firewire Vanguard make this an incredible paddler
- High performance entry and tail rocker shape and foil
- Parallel rail line running from tip to tail reduces drag
- Firewire Surfboards Nano LFT Review: the board that got me over the mental hump of riding a Modern Planing Hull design with a drastically different aspect ratio. The Nano is dynamite in the water. It handles solid overhead surf like a much longer board but feels right at home in your stomach high, average conditions, too
- Misfit Surfboards Mermaid Killer Review: my first ride of a planing hull design board. Speed on tap but ultra maneuverable, this is Otis Carey’s signature model
- Vulcan Surfboards Archetype Review: a modern planing hull design for tiny, weak, fat surf, the Archetype will become your ‘go to’ tiny wave groveler and still keep you up and smiling in slightly larger, better quality surf, too
Hey! Welcome to Benny’s Boardroom! My name is Ben. I buy, ride, and review surfboards because I love to surf, I love surfing, and ever since I started surfing, I caught this bug where I looked at a surfboard design and every design I looked at, I just wanted to understand how it went in the water. I would see a Mini Simmons and I want to understand how that Simmons would work in the water or I would see a nice, tight rounded pin tail by Simon Anderson. I want to know how that would feel going down a big, steep, hollow face.
Needless to say, I have a serious surfboard addiction. Thanks to you and thanks for all of your support. I think there are many people out there that share that same addiction; who love surfing and surfboards and want to know how a board is going to go for the average, everyday surfer.
In particular, I want to call a couple of people, Berm Cannon, Torrey B, Rob Lewis. You guys have been a great support. Thank you so much for contributing to the community. Thank you to everyone else out there who has liked, commented, and subscribed. I really appreciate that. I appreciate your support and get excited for 2015 because we have some seriously cool stuff coming up!
“I want to end 2014 with a big bang and I think I found that the right board to do it!”
This is the Tomo Surfboards Vader. This is a brand new model. It has been released under the Tomo Surfboards brand only. Some people don’t know this – I actually didn’t know a great deal about the history – but Firewire Surfboards and Daniel ‘Tomo’ Thomson of Tomo Surfboards have been in partnership for some time. Firewire Surfboards helped give a platform for growth to Tomo Surfboards. Firewire has been able to benefit from some of these great designs that Tomo makes.
You would know of the Vanguard as it raised many eyebrows upon release. And the last board I’ve reviewed, the Firewire Surfboards Nano by Tomo, which was just a fantastic board. The more I rode that board, the more I fell in love with it. It worked from big overhead hollow beach break barreling conditions, all the way down [00:02:00] to your average stomach to chest, shoulder-high, mushy conditions. It just worked in so many different conditions.
I was very excited to ride this board – this Tomo Surfboards Vader. I didn’t try the Vanguard, which looks similar to this. This Vader is the latest evolution of Tomo’s Modern Planing Hull vision. This board is just tremendous to ride.
I’ve had experienced now with a few of these boards and rather than try to come up with my own definition of what this Modern Planing Hull design philosophy tries to achieve, I read an article of Daniel ‘Tomo’ Thompson being interviewed on The Inertia. He explains the design simply:
“The (Modern Planing Hull) formula is quite logical and simple: straighter (rail) lines provide less drag and more glide (just as a flat rocker would), the most efficient way for fluid to move around an object is in a straight line.”
So, it’s a pretty logical setup. You have a greater amount of surface area in a shorter package. You have this parallel rails, which helps you to glide through the water with less drag.
In a very similar vein to the concept of having a flatter rocker that allows a smaller wave board to fly across flatter sections because there’s less drag. Those parallel rails help you to fly through the water because there’s less resistance against the fluid that the board is sliding through. That concept, it makes a lot of sense. I think in the beginning when, at least when I saw the Vanguard for the first time, I was actually was like, “That thing can’t work. There’s no way it can work.”
I didn’t ride the Vanguard [immediately 00:03:30] but I have ridden a couple of these Modern Planing Hull designs now. This latest one, I think, is the one that’s really clicked for me. This board I’ve ridden in a few different conditions. Actually, the first surf I had in it, I didn’t have a very good experience.
I was surfing this wave up the coast and I had surfed in the morning when the conditions were a little bit smaller and just [00:03:53] had a cracker of a session. I went in the afternoon and I took this board. I just couldn’t get in front of the waves. It was pretty fast, [00:04:00] pitching but smaller beach break conditions. I couldn’t make the drops quickly enough and I just couldn’t get down the line. I was quite frustrated but it wasn’t this board. It was just that the conditions had changed. It was closing out pretty quickly. Nobody was really making any waves.
I came back the next day, surfing the same beach break. It had picked up a couple of feet and the angle had changed just to touch. It was really starting to fire. It was shoulder high to a few feet overhead, same beach, hollower, good quality beach break conditions. I was sold [00:04:41] on this board after that session. I felt like I could do whatever I wanted to with the board from take-off. I just felt that it would do it.
I could pop up on these sucky, hollower waves, and the board would sit perfectly in the pocket. It would glide down, do a bottom turn, and then I was doing stuff on this board that I just really normally don’t feel like that I have the aptitude, frankly, to do. That’s I guess one of the overarching purposes of this style of design is that it’s meant to be very intuitive and it’s meant to free up your surfing to be more creative, to be able to draw more creative lines on the wave face.
Anyways, I surfed it in that session. I was pretty sold [ 00:05:26] after that but obviously getting one good session out of a board isn’t nearly enough and I’ve been surfing it for a few weeks since then. I’ve surfed it in all manner of waves now. I’ve surfed it, again, in bigger stuff, up to a couple feet overhead. I’ve surfed it all the way down to a waist to stomach high, mushier conditions. It does the same thing but on a different scale, depending on the wave type. I’m very impressed by this Vader by Tomo Surfboards.
We talked about this parallel rail design and the [00:05:57] surface area that this allows for. I actually ordered [00:06:00] this board even bigger in volume than I normally order boards. I had this kind of revelation that maybe I’m even riding boards that are too small even though I ride the biggest boards of anybody I know. I [went 00:06:12] a little bit bigger on this and, again, to get this kind of volume I would have had to a get a more traditional pointy nose shortboard board, probably at about 6’6 or 6’7 in length.
To be able to squash this down – this is a 6’1 Vader – and get that [00:06:26] literage is great. The approach that I could take in to waves, I felt pretty dynamic. I would take off on something. I would take off. I would lock that nose in. I would get around the bottom turn and then whatever I wanted to do, if I wanted to go and try to do crack the lip or something like that, where I wanted to go and do a floater[00:06:46]:
“I would just shift my weight on the board and it would just react and do what I wanted to do.”
Very interesting kind of design. The concept of these boards, again, being shrunken down while creating a larger amount of surface area is interesting. It’s also very interesting to me that you have water flowing in underneath the board here and immediately that water is flowing down through the board, channeled very interestingly by some pretty pronounced bottom contours.
You can see the bottom contour in the front here. If I put this little bar on here, you can see that there’s a very kind of pronounced entry channel going through the front of the board there. That entry channel takes the water and starts running it down the rails of this board, providing less resistance than you might otherwise see in a different style of board or your pointy nose shortboard.
Out the back, he’s got these channels that, I think these provide a little bit of extra hold and also provide just a little bit an element of extra kind of liveliness. They really make the board like a jet engine: taking water in the front and shooting that water out the back. [00:08:00] Very interesting bottom contours as well. That was the first thing I noticed was those bottom contours.
Very interesting ride and the approach the I could take with this board just felt more natural. I didn’t feel like I was forcing anything. You can see that it does have a fair bit of rocker. On that second day, I said surfed this and it was quite sucky and hollow. You can see that it goes from being relatively flat here. It’s then being very quickly drawing down into this steeper, more pronounced rocker on the nose and then a little bit more rocker through the tail here as well.
This isn’t the type of board that you’re only going to be able to go and surf when the conditions are more mushy and flat. This board can be surfed in suckier, more hollow conditions. It’s going to handle it just fine. That is the Tomo Surfboards Vader. Fantastic board, probably my favorite parallel rail design board yet. It is the latest evolution of Daniel ‘Tomo’ Thomson’s Modern Planing Hull design.
Thank you so much for watching. Thank you again for your support in 2014. This is the last review you’re going to see in 2014. I’m going to take a break, spend some time with my family over the holidays, surf a bunch of boards that I haven’t had time to surf in ages, and I will see you the first week in January 2015. I hope you’re doing well. I hope you’re getting waves wherever you are. Have a great holiday period. Hopefully, you get some time off and get some surf. I will see you in 2015. Thanks again and I will speak to you soon.
OUTRO: Get your Modern Planing Hull on with the Vader by Tomo Surfboards, grasshopper.
Stock Standard Dimensions and Volumes
Tomo Surfboards Vader dimensions and volumes available on Firewire Surfboards website here.
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I finally got my vader. After much thought I also went on the top end of my volume range (thanks for the insight). I got the 5'11 at 39.5 liters, it is an increase of about 2 liters from what i was riding before. When it arrived it seemed big! Even though it's the shortest board I've ever had, i was worried it would feel clunky. The tail seemed so wide and thick, just an usual shape. Because of the wide tail i fitted it with the lost mb2 fins which are pretty big and decided to try it out as a quad on a dumpy onshore chest to head high day at my local beach break. This board really goes! The first thing i noticed was the speed. Once you set your rail it just flies! And it turns too! Very lively and fun! Didn't feel big at all. Can't wait to take it out on a big hollow day to put it through its paces. Will keep you posted. Thanks for the help!