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Second Look Surfboard Review: Firewire Potato-nator



Product Review

We test ride an older board model, the Firewire Potato-nator

Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 1 February, 2015 - The high-performance end of the Potato series from Dan Mann and Firewire, the Potato-nator takes the user-friendly and speed-inherent designs of the Sweet Potato and Baked Potato and mixes in a little bit of the high-performance characteristics of their Dominator.

The Potato-nator achieves this by cutting back the nose and tail width. But the most unique characteristic of the board is the bottom contour.

Designer Dan Mann says the bottom contour is a subtle “V” right at the tip of the nose which flows into a solid single concave under the front foot. Then, between the feet the single splits to the pronounced double-barrel concave with an obvious spline which is meant to split the water and push more water towards the fins that are being loaded up for the turn. 

“The biggest difference in these bottoms from those of other shapers is when I put the double barrel in with the spline I do so that it is all still running through the single concave,” says Mann. “In other words I don't have V out the tail like most boards with a wide tail usually do. That gives the board more lift and eliminates bogging.” 

Other (relatively) high-performance enhancements include a step-deck, so that the rails are thinner where they come in contact with the water. The thickness of the board remains the same at the center line so it floats like a thick board without the corky-rail tendencies of a a higher-volume board.


About the Test:
The board is designed for small to head-high surf. I’m an average-to-slightly above average surfer with 35 years surfing experience. I weigh 190 lbs and for a groveler I like about 34-35 cubic liters. The board I tested is 5’8” x 20 1/2” x 2 3/8” with 33.9 cubic liters. The board was ridden with various quad setups and a knub trailer fin in all kinds of conditions.

Here’s what we discovered:

Waist-High and Under 
The board went well in these conditions, but required a lot of effort to get moving. For this range a further step-down (wider, thicker) design would be better.
Hollow: With a little bit of push to the waves the Potato-nator picked up speed and I was able to make sections. Top turns are limited to fins-free slide maneuvers rather than rail carves since the board’s curve won’t really fit the wave at this size.

The Potato-nator excelled in this size zone. Mushy waves had enough push for my weight and the volume of the board. Once down-the-line speed was generated the board was extremely fun and easy for foam-climbs and snaps.
Hollow: Again here, the board fits best in lateral down-the-line surfing on small hollow waves. Coming down off the top, all that flat rocker forces the nose to poke. The thinner rails really help hold an edge when a hollow section pops up, much more so than boards of similar template and volume. 

Head-high and Above
Mush: Yes. The board can climb and carve through burgery, large surf with the added bite of thinner rail. So it’s fun in this realm.
Hollow: No. The excess speed attained in hollow surf locked up the board and it was hard to get it to release.

Sweet Spot: Waist-to-chest high either mushy or semi-hollow. Because of the lateral speed generating characteristics and the rail-to-rail transition friendly bottom contour, the Potato-nator was quick, fast and surfed on rail much better than most other short, quad 

Turns: Again, a big surprise was the carvey capabilities of the Potato-nator in non-ledgy waves and the board held its speed throughout roundhouses. With such a short rail line top turns are quick and the board resets on rail for the next turn very quickly.

- Paddles great for its volume
- Early wave entry and takeoff speed
- Very fast down-the-line for lateral speed generation
- Rail-to-rail transition is smooth and easy (has a nice ‘rolling’ sensation)
- Comes alive in slopey faced waves and semi-hollow waist-to-chest hight surf
- Shorter template length allows for quick adjustments, turns
- Surprisingly sensitive and responsive

- Hollow waves, can slide out 
- Nose pokes on ledgier waves
- Hard to achieve a solid thruster-pivot snap turn without sliding out

Bryan Dickerson

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