As Firewire Surfboards blazes a brave and fresh trail across the ocean in San Diego, the man behind it all, Australian Nev Hyman quietly stays out of the spotlight while continuing to create bold new waves in surfboard engineering.
He happens to be regarded as one of the big kahunas of surfboard design.
The story of Firewire is the story of Hyman. He started Odyssey Surfboards in Perth back in 1975 and then renamed it Nev Surfboards in 1981. It was at this time when Hyman started designing blanks for some of the biggest names in the surfing world. This experience pushed him to explore and experiment on designing the perfect surfboard.
In 1989, Hyman became involved with computer shaping. As he infused technology into the craft of shaping, he began his quest for the Holy Grail of machine-shaped surfboards. In 1998, he yet again changed the name of his company, this time to Nev Future Shapes, which spoke of the direction he has taken in the field of surfboard design.
As investors took interest in his eco-friendly, lighter, stronger, and more flexible parabolic rail/ epoxy resin/expanded polystyrene foam boards, they pushed for a catchier name. Thus, in 2005, Firewire Surfboards was launched with much fanfare in Australia.
At that time, many considered Firewire a disruptive innovation in the world of surfing. This is a culture that thrives on individuality. Surfers want their boards custom-made by shaping masters; they tend to sneer at anything factory-made. But through the years, the brand has proven its mettle with wins from Firewire-riding surfing stars such as Taj Burrow, Michel Bourez, Sally Fitzgibbons, and Dusty Payne.
Firewire originally targeted the everyday surfer, but its initial lack of intent to create custom boards served as an obstacle to the brand’s development. Despite the general preference for made-to-order boards, Firewire, nonetheless, steadfastly earned converts. Finally, to cater to the hyper-old school crowd, it also introduced a custom board line in 2009.
These days, Firewire is considered one of the major players in the global marketplace. It has a 10,000-foot warehouse in San Diego, but almost all of its boards are manufactured in a factory in Thailand. It is the first word in surfboard design innovation and technology. These are not words that a culture that clings to tradition welcomes, but when a good thing is involved, it always comes around.
Regardless of the uphill struggle for acceptance, Firewire enjoys a good position in the market. Three of its designs were included in the Top 12 Selling Surfboard Models of 2013: Spitfire (5), Dominator (7), and Vanguard (10). The surfing world is evidently coming around.