EVO-lution Revolution? Odd History of the Modern Planing Hull

The world of surfing is at a pivotal moment, one that could reshape the sport’s foundation. The Modern Planing Hull (MPH) surfboard design is at the heart of this potential transformation, spearheaded by the innovative collaboration between Daniel ‘Tomo’ Thomson and Firewire Surfboards.

This partnership, bolstered by the involvement of surfing legend and Firewire co-owner Kelly Slater, aims to challenge conventional surfboard design with their creation, the Evo.

But is the surfing community ready for this shift? With its promise of unparalleled speed and responsiveness, can the Evo bring about an EVO-lution Revolution?

The quest for the perfect wave has always been about more than just the ocean; it’s about the symbiotic relationship between surfer and board. This dynamic is on the cusp of a revolution, heralded by the Evo – a Modern Planing Hull surfboard that defies traditional design norms.

The Evo is a testament to what is possible when ingenuity meets passion, developed by Tomo Surfboards and utilizing Firewire’s innovative Linear Flex Technology (LFT).

But to understand the significance of this potential revolution, we must first delve into the rich tapestry of surfboard design history and the peculiar journey of the modern planning hull.

A Dive into the Past: The Legacy of Bob Simmons and Lindsay Lord

Our story begins in the shadows of Prohibition America, where the Mafia’s need for fast boats to smuggle rum introduced them to Professor Lindsay Lord of MIT. Lord’s expertise in planing hulls – vessels designed to skim across the water’s surface – enabled these illicit cargoes to outrun the law.

However, the end of Prohibition and the onset of WWII repurposed Lord’s skills for a nobler cause, designing swift naval craft for the U.S. Navy. Amidst this, the planning hull concept began to take shape, setting the stage for its eventual surfboard applications.

Bob Simmons: The Surfer Who Looked Beyond the Waves

Enter Bob Simmons, a surfer with a knack for engineering and an insatiable curiosity about hydrodynamics. Inspired by Lord’s work, Simmons embarked on a quest to redesign surfboards.

Armed with Lord’s “The Naval Architecture of Planing Hulls” and a vision to improve wave riding, Simmons crafted the first modern planing hull surfboards.

These boards were lighter, faster, and more maneuverable than anything seen before, marking the first significant leap in surfboard design evolution.

surfing evolution

The Modern Planing Hull Renaissance

Fast forward to the mid-2000s, a period of stagnation in surfboard design had taken hold. It was then that a group of innovative surfers and shapers, inspired by Simmons’s work and the principles Lord laid out, began experimenting with new board designs.

Among them, Daniel Thomson–Tomo – stood out for his willingness to challenge the status quo. Utilizing modern technology and materials, Tomo, in collaboration with Firewire Surfboards, brought the concept of the contemporary planning hull to the forefront of surfing.

The Evo: A New Dawn in Surfboard Design

The culmination of this renaissance is the Evo, a board that encapsulates the essence of the modern planning hull.

Its design nods to the past, drawing inspiration from Simmons’ original concepts, yet it is firmly rooted in the present, leveraging the latest in surfboard technology. The Evo represents a step forward in design and a leap toward a new surfing paradigm.

The Conversation Continues

As we stand on the brink of this potential revolution, it’s essential to remember that the evolution of surfboard design is an ongoing conversation involving shapers, surfers, and the sea itself.

With its radical design and performance capabilities, the Evo invites us all to be part of this dialogue, test its limits, and imagine what’s possible.


The evolution Revolution is more than just about a single surfboard or design; it’s about the spirit of innovation that drives the sport of surfing forward. Whether the Evo becomes a mainstay in surf cultures worldwide or a stepping stone to even more incredible advancements remains to be seen.

What is clear, however, is that the journey of the modern planing hull, from its odd beginnings to its current incarnation, reflects a broader quest for perfection in the dance between wave and rider.

As we ponder the future, let’s not forget the words of those who have shaped our past, for in them lies the inspiration for our next great leap.

So, whether you’re a seasoned pro or a stoked grommet, the message is clear: the revolution is here, and it’s time to ride the wave of change.


1. What is a Modern Planing Hull (MPH) surfboard?

A Modern Planing Hull (MPH) surfboard emphasizes speed and responsiveness by utilizing a wider, shorter, and more buoyant structure than traditional surfboards. This design allows the board to skim across the water’s surface more efficiently, enabling surfers to catch waves more easily and perform maneuvers with greater agility.

2. How does the Evo surfboard by Tomo and Firewire stand out from other MPH designs?

The Evo surfboard represents the pinnacle of MPH design through its unique combination of Tomo’s visionary shaping and Firewire’s innovative Linear Flex Technology (LFT). Its distinctive features include a highly efficient hydrodynamic shape, superior responsiveness, and a construction that offers both durability and flex, making it stand out in the MPH category.

3. Who is Daniel ‘Tomo’ Thomson, and why is he significant in surfboard design?

Daniel’ Tomo’ Thomson is a surfboard shaper and designer known for his revolutionary approach to surfboard design. His significance lies in his willingness to challenge conventional designs and his success in integrating principles of hydrodynamics into modern surfboards. This has resulted in faster, more maneuverable boards that have pushed the boundaries of what’s possible in surfing.

4. How has Kelly Slater contributed to the evolution of the MPH design?

As a co-owner and brand advocate of Firewire Surfboards, Kelly Slater has played a crucial role in promoting and developing the MPH design. His involvement has not only lent credibility to the concept but has also provided valuable feedback from a professional surfer’s perspective, driving further innovations in the design and performance of boards like the Evo.

5. What historical figure influenced the development of the MPH surfboard?

Professor Lindsay Lord, a naval architect whose work on planning hulls during and after Prohibition in the United States, significantly influenced the development of the MPH surfboard. His theories and designs laid the groundwork for understanding how objects can efficiently move across the water’s surface, which pioneers like Bob Simmons later applied to surfboard design.

6. What are the key advantages of using an MPH surfboard?

The key advantages of using an MPH surfboard include increased speed due to the board’s efficient planning over the water, enhanced maneuverability allowing for tighter turns and more dynamic surfing, and greater ease in catching waves because of the board’s buoyancy and shape.

David is the visionary founder of Comparesurfboards.com, a dedicated surfer with over a decade of experience riding waves across the globe. With an unwavering passion for the sport and a deep understanding of what makes a great surfboard, David created Comparesurfboards.com to guide fellow surfers through the complex world of surfboards.

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