Thinking of getting a Firewire Dominator 2? Here’s everything you need to know – from what waves its best for to how it surfs!
The Firewire Dominator 2 is one of the most anticipated board releases of 2020, tweaking a classic, staple model of the Firewire lineup and making it even better than before.
So does the Firewire Dominator 2 deliver on its promises? Does than refined shape, updated squash tail and new Helium 2 build create that dream, one board quiver?
Well I’ve been busy putting it through its paces, so here’s my full review…
REVIEW: Firewire Dominator 2 – The One Board Quiver?
What Level Of Surfer Is It For?
The Firewire Dominator 2 is aimed at the intermediate to pro market, so if you’re just starting out, have yet to master green wave riding and turns, then this really isn’t the board for you.
If you’re already an experienced surfer looking to take your surfing to the next level and push your turns, or an advanced surfer looking for an epic new go to board for all conditions, then the Dominator 2 is certainly for you!
The Dominator 2 builds on all the key elements that made the original Dominator such as success and has refined, tweaked and taken them to the next level.
Although the shape is very similar there are 2 key difference with the Dominator 2.
The first – and most notable – is the move from a round tail to a squash tail. This gives the board more pivot points and certainly livens up the turns and release of the board.
Secondly is the slight “hip” on the rails which sit in line with the front fins. This has allows shaper Dan to keep the wide point of the board running further back, giving the board more speed (especially in the flatter sections), without compromising on the manoeuvrability of the board.
And it certainly works as planned!
Other than that there are a few mild tweaks in the volume and dimensions, as well as the construction moving to the new Helium 2 technology, but more about that in a bit…
The Dominator 2 comes in a huge range of sizes, running from 5’4 (25.9L) all the way through to a chunky 6’10, packing in 54.4L, so you can dial it into your preferred dims and volume.
In comparison to the original the dimensions are pretty much like for like, although overall the Dominator 2 is actually just a fraction lighter on volume. For example the model I’m on is 0.1 litres less than the original equivalent.
At 6 foot and weighing around 80kg I opted for the 6’1, which comes in at 36L. To be honest I should really be riding around the 34L mark, but I prefer a bit of extra foam under me.
Personally I feel that the Firewire range (especially in Helium) sit in the water and paddle like a slightly higher volume PU board, so you can use that to either drop to a smaller board, or give you even more buoyancy, your call.
You can check out the full dimensions below:
What Wave Sizes Does It Suit?
One of the biggest surprises and positives of the Firewire Dominator 2 is the sheer range of conditions the board can handle, and more importantly – handle well.
Although I’m still yet to get a solid day of swell to test it out in the bigger stuff (head high+), a quick scour on YouTube will bring back clips of people absolutely charging on nearly double overhead waves on the Dominator 2 – with barrels, aerials and big turns all in the mix.
Given the high volume, shortboard style dimensions this is a huge plus as many similar boards in this category tend to tap out at head/head and a half, or get super chattery.
More importantly for the average surfer though, the Dominator 2 absolutely flies in small, mushy conditions too. In fact my second surf on it was in on a pretty mediocre beach break day, with waves in about the waist high range and I was still able to easily paddle in, generate speed and knock out a few turns.
The bottom line on this side of the review is that for most surfers, the Dominator 2 will handle all the conditions you’ll be surfing it in, making a serious contender for a one board quiver!
Helium 2 Construction
Much like one of my other favourite Firewire Surfboards – the Machado Seaside – the Firewire Dominator 2 is built using Helium 2 construction.
Its arguably the best epoxy construction out there – strong and durable, yet light and with plenty of flex to transfer the energy of your turns with those balsa and paulonia wood rails which act as the boards stringer.
I wont go into heaps of detail on how the Helium 2, sandwhich construction is made – but the result is a really long lasting and hardcore board that will withstand almost everything you can throw at it!
After over a year of heavy use and travel, my Seaise barely had a pressure mark anywhere on the deck!
Sure the Firewire Dominator 2 comes with a bit of a hefty price tag (around AU$1,080) but trust me – it’ll last a long long time, and this construction is certainly my go to when looking for any travel surfboards now.
Which Fin Setup?
As with many boards in this class, the Firewire Dominator 2 comes with a 5 fin setup, available in both FCS2 and Futures.
Having tested it out as both a quad and a thruster I can certainly say I prefer the feel of the quad setup – and having checked out numerous reviews and watching pro surfers shred on it, it seems the quad is certainly the way to go.
I was surprised at the amount of release and pivot it had for a quad setup too, which is one of the reasons it’s so fun to ride.
I’ve also ridden it as a thruster (I’m running the 5ive series by LZ Surf, which is a large template, tri-quad setup) and although it turned easier (as you’d expect) it certainly wasn’t as fast or fun. I might experiment a bit more with it, but for now the quad will be my go to in it.
Having been riding it for the last few months as a quad, after a recommendation from surf reviewer Noel Salas I also recently gave it a shot as a twinny with a trailer and I was really surprised out how fun and playful it was!
In fact that’s my new go to setup for smaller days (up to chest high) and it really allows you to smash out the turns and release the tail – so make sure you give that a try too! I went for a more upright twin fin (the LZ Duo) with a standard trailer) which went like a dream.
In case you hadn’t figured it out yet, I’m pretty stoked on this new board, however there is one slight issue that I’ve got with the board.
It’s less about the board itself, more about the finish.
The previous generation of Firewire surfboards came in a clean, all white finish. Now it seems they’re refreshing the entire range with the new Helium 2 look – which is the move to a slightly altered logo, but also the introduction of a dark rail, with a clear tail finish, allowing the wooden rails to be visible.
Now at first glance, this is a slick move and on the rack they look epic. However, even before I’d hit the water for the first time I noticed that these rails were getting scuffed, simply from some light brushing in and out of a board bag!
I wasn’t really expecting my AU$1,000+ to look that worn, that quickly and although it’s not a deal breaker on the board overall, it’s not ideal.
It’s also worth pointing out that the rails aren’t the jet black colour they first appear (and certainly look like on the Firewire website), they’re very much a dark blue and I can see they’ll probably end up fading fast. Even worse they look very Hypto Krypto like…and we all know the kind of reputation that board has in the lineup!
Again, not a deal breaker, but I thought I’d point it out.
My Final Thoughts
Having eyed up the original Dominator but failed to pull the trigger, the Firewire Dominator 2 ticks all the boxes I was looking for in a go to shortboard – fun, reliable, responsive and suitable for a huge variety of conditions.
The squash tail is a welcome addition and although I haven’t ridden the original Dominator, my own personal preferences have moved from rounded tail shapes (like the Chumlee) to squash tails (like the Puddle Jumper HP) over the last year and it certainly feels better under my feet and through turns.
Even after only a few surfs I’m already clearing out some of my board rack as I can quickly see that the Dominator 2 will be my go to stick for shortboarding, easily replacing a couple current boards and helping consolidate my quiver.
It paddles well, handles everything from sloppy onshore mess through to clean overhead walls, comes in a solid construction and is heaps of fun to surf.
So whether you’re pushing your turns to the next level, consolidating your surfboard collection or looking for a fun new board to shred on the Dominator 2 is going to tick the boxes for a huge range of surfers.