A few days ago, Firewire released a board that was over two years in the making. The Cornice, as they’re calling it, might just be Firewire’s strangest shape yet.
Back in 2013, a man named Eduardo Cenzana, the Managing Director and lead engineer at Trinity Technologies, approached Firewire with a promising design. Trinity, a company that designs blades for wind turbines, used their knowledge of how wind moves over turbine blades and transferred it the water and came up with a strange looking hunk of foam with a skinny waist and big feet. “Trinity has significant computer resources due to our work designing products such as wind turbine blades and modeling how they perform in different conditions,” he said in a press release. “I believe this is the first time anyone has applied that much computing power and engineering expertise to determine the functionality of a surfboard design. After countless months of computer modeling, we’re convinced that the side-cut design offers significant performance advantages.”
As board design goes farther and farther from the norm, more established companies are testing the waters of unconventional surfboards. The challenge now is getting surfers to ride them. Surf culture is reminiscent of high-school, where being weird isn’t always cool, and far too much importance is placed on being cool. But with these new designs, more surfers are opening up to the idea that maybe, just maybe, the board that Kelly Slater rides isn’t all that great for the average surfer. The interesting thing about many of these radical new designs is that, in the end, they makes surfing better easier–something every surfer on earth wants.
The Cornice features something called a side-cut. Put simply, it’s less foam on the waist of the board, giving it a vaguely hour-glass shape. “The side-cut shifts the majority of the board’s volume from the mid-point towards the ends,” said Cenzana. “In the Cornice outline in particular, [it shifts] towards the tail, leading to a most effective area in contact with the water. The board literally displaces less water, leading to minimal friction and in surfing terms, increased speed that is noticeable.”
But most times, with conventional surfboards, at least, more speed equals more difficulty turning. The Cornice may have figured out how to beat that. “Firstly, the water flows more smoothly through the waist of the board rather than buffeting against it,” Cenzana continued. “The way the board fits into the flow of water reduces the water pressure from the wave, allowing the board to respond intuitively to maneuvers. The overall effect is the sensation of traveling on rails, and a feeling that you have complete control over the most radical turns.”
What’s interesting is that so far, the most unconventional thing we’ve seen in a World Tour event is a quad. In action sports, what the professionals are using normally dictates what the amateurs want to use–but in surfing, it seems that strange shapes are catching on with everyone except those surfing for a living. It’s always been the general consensus that performance boards have certain, defined shapes, but the Cornice is aiming to shatter that. And it’s my bet that within a few years, we’ll see some truly weird boards in pro-level events around the world. Firewire is releasing The Cornice to the public early this year.