My full, hands on review of the Firewire Mashup & whether it could be your new daily driver. Inc comparison to the Seaside & Dominator 2
After stumbling across the specs for the Firewire Mashup a while back I’ve been pretty keen to get my hands on it in real life and see how the combination of Rob Machado and Dan Mann has turned out.
And following the official launch of the Firewire Mashup at the end of Jan (well in Australia at least!) I’ve been busy putting it to the test to see if it’s worth the hype as a go to daily driver, and how it compares to the flagship boards of both shapers, the Seaside and the Dominator 2…
REVIEW – Firewire Mashup
What Is The Firewire Mashup?
The Firewire Mashup is a collaborative project between shapers Rob Machado and Dan Mann – combining two of their most celebrated designs, the Seaside and the Spitfire, with plenty of influence from the Dominator 2 as well.
Essentially they’ve merged the tail end of the Seaside and the nose end of the Spitfire to create a board which combines the speed and fun of the Seaside, with manoeuvrability of the Spitfire.
A fast, fun, small wave performance, swallow tail shortboard.
And seeing as I’m stoked on both of their previous board models I was frothing to get my hands on the Mashup and see whether it delivered and would be worth keeping in the quiver.
Who’s It For & What Wave Types Does It Suit?
When it comes to the optimum conditions for the Firewire Mashup it certainly lends itself well to the small wave performance category – being able to generate heaps of speed and fun in smaller, mushier conditions, whilst still turning incredibly well.
It can handle a bit more size and punch, but it certainly feel like this isn’t what it was aimed at – and for me head high and under is the sweet spot for the Mashup, although you can push it a little bigger on fatter surf breaks.
That being said though, having surfed it in a variety of conditions, I’d certainly say it’s a much more well rounded board than Firewire are currently marketing it as, and it can handle a solid range of waves.
So, it’s going to really suit a few types of surfers:
- Any surfer (intermediate upwards) looking to push small wave performance
- Surfers who usually surf “smaller waves” – head high and under
- Anyone surfing slightly mushier or fatter conditions
With than in mind it really feels that for a large chunk of everyday surfers the Mashup is going to be a great everyday board – allowing you to optimise your performance in the smaller stuff, push your turns and keep the stoke going when the waves aren’t fully on the pump.
Board Breakdown & Dimensions
When it comes to the board breakdown the Firewire Mashup runs from a 5’2 (24.9L) right through to the chunky 6’6 (47L) so there’s a good range of options to suit every height, weight and skill level.
For me personally, I opted for the 5’10 option (I’m 185cm and 82kg) which comes in at 35.5L
I was debating the 5’9, but figured I’d prefer the extra length and volume for the wave conditions I’d be surfing it in mainly, and the 5’10 has been spot on.
The medium entry and exit rocker, combined with the wide point being just froward of centre and generous volume to length ratio makes the Mashup a really easy paddle – whilst still retaining a whole heap of performance.
Add in the swallow tail for some extra control and speed between manoeuvres and you have the recipe for some serious fun no matter what your skill level!
One thing that’s will also catch your eye the first time you pickup the Mashup is the rail line on the tail end of the board. Borrowing from the Spitfire design they’ve used a turn down rail to help carry an extra bit of volume through the tail.
What Size Should You Choose?
Sizing wise the Firewire Mashup is going to end up being ridden a little longer than your Seaside and a bit shorter than your Dominator 2 or original Spitfire.
If you’re coming off a performance shortboard I would add a little extra volume to help maximise the Mashups small wave capabilities.
Personally for me I went for the 5’10 option, coming in at 35.5L and it feel spot on.
As with both the Seaside and Dominator 2, the Firewire Mashup comes in Helium Construction – my favourite of the Firewire techs.
It’s strong and lightweight, which makes it feel super lively underfoot. If you’re looking to travel with a board anytime soon the Helium models are super robust and durable, much more so than any other epoxy model I’ve ridden.
Coupled with a balsa stringer that runs around the outside of the board, it’s flex pattern is slightly different to standard PU boards and personally I really like the way they feel, especially in smaller conditions.
Comparison to the Seaside
Having not surfed the Spitfire before the Seaside and the Dominator 2 are the two boards in my quiver that it’s best compared with, especially as the Spitfire was the more performance orientated version of the original Dominator.
Although not quite as fast as the Seaside, the Mashup carries speed incredibly well and the board really does fire you where you need to be. In fact I’d say shaving off a bit of speed is a good thing, as it allows you to set up turns a little easier.
Compared to the Seaside it does turn a lot smoother, and quicker too, mainly due to the narrower outline, especially towards the front end of the boar, where the Seaside can feel a bit fat sometimes.
I find the Seaside is great for more drawn out turns and carves, whereas the Mashup pivots really nicely for some more top to bottom style surfing.
My main takeaway from the Mashup v Seaside comparison is I feel like surfers really trying to progress their turns and small wave performance are really going to love the Mashup as you can surf it much more aggressively.
Main takeaways for the Mashup v Seaside:
- Much more manoeuvrable
- But not as quick off the mark
- Slightly less paddle power
- Can surf it more aggressively
Comparison to the Dominator 2
In comparison to the Dominator 2, being able to drop a little in size also makes it a little easier to turn in the pocket and the Firewire Mashup certainly feels a bit more manoeuvrable in this department – I felt like it wanted to be thrown around a bit more.
The wide point on the Mashup is slightly further forward than the D2 as well, which means it still has heaps of paddle power too, which is always a welcome trait!
Wave size is going to be the key differentiator with the Dominator 2 comparison though – the Mashup feels like it has better small wave performance (especially in fatter conditions) whereas the D2 handles bigger, punchier surf a bit better.
It’s really going to depend on what waves you surf most of the time, but my hunch is that the Mashup is going to be a great fit for a lot of surfers, especially in the high end intermediate range.
In terms of how the Mashups sits alongside both boards, there’s quite a lot of overlap and you could easily find yourself replacing the other two with it!
The Seaside does have added speed and fun factor in smaller waves, whereas the Dominator 2 offers more scope in at the bigger surf end of the scale – but everything in between it’s going to be a hard call to make if you do have to choose!
Main takeaways for the Mashup v Dominator 2:
- Feels a bit snappier on turns
- Better performance in smaller conditions
- Not quite as optimal in bigger, punchier conditions
- Dominator 2 certainly works better in bigger surf
Thruster Or Quad Fin Setup?
In terms of the best quad setup for the Mashup – I spoke to Dan Mann before taking mine out and he recommended just using your go to quad setup.
I’ve tested mine out with both the Machado Quad set (same as I use in the Seaside) and my LZ 5ive set (which I use in the Dominator 2) and they both go heaps well.
The standard quad setup of the LZs does allow the board more release and better turning, so that’s the setup I’ll be running from now on.
As for riding it as a thruster, you can certainly tell the Mashup was designed as a quad – and although the manoeuvrability jumps up with a 3 fin setup, it feel a lot more sluggish and you have to put a lot more effort into linking together turns.
As a 5 fin configuration you have the flexibility of being able to swap between both, but I’m firmly sticking with the quad fin setup, and I think most people will do the same.
My Final Thoughts
With it’s DNA being a merger of 2 proven boards it’s not a huge surprise that the Firewire Mashup performs so well and is heaps of fun to surf.
For a lot of surfers it’s going to quickly become a solid go to day to day board, especially if most of the time you’re surfing waves in the chest to head high range, or bigger, fatter surf.
It’s a board that really allows you to make the most of small, or slightly fatter conditions – forgiving and fast enough to get through the dead sections, but pulled in and dialled to smash those turns as well.
For me, the Mashup has a solid slot in my quiver and I know it’s going to be the board I reach for on most sessions – so much so that I’m even considering selling my Dominator 2 as a result!
The narrower outline and pulling the wide point further back also adds to this feel and overall the Mashup surfs like it wants to be smashed off the lip again and again – with the speed and flow to link together some solid turns even in smaller conditions.
I’d also like to reiterate the fact that this is certainly a much more well rounded design than Firewire are currently marketing it as – so don’t write it off as simply “a grovellor board” – it’s going to go super well in most daily conditions, unless of course your local is a pumping, hollow wave!
Definitely a board I’d highly recommend checking out.
Have you surfed the Firewire Mashup?
What did you make of it?