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The Firewire S Boss - Pushing High Performance Surfboard Design

Surfboard shaper Dan Mann recently sat down to discuss the details of Kelly Slater's latest high performance shortboard design - the Firewire S Boss.

This blog is a transcription from our exclusive interview with Dan Mann about the S Boss Surfboard. You can watch the video or read through the end of this blog to know more about this awesome model. 

The innovative S Boss surfboard packs some exciting new features into a fast, loose, and extremely maneuverable package designed for high performance surfing.

The initial concept for the S Boss surfboard took shape back in 2020 at the height of the COVID pandemic. Kelly Slater met with longtime shaper Dan Mann at Firewire's factory with some new board ideas in his mind. His goal was to build the ultimate high performance shortboard by improving on key elements of speed, maneuverability, and control.

Firewire S Boss


After countless hours of hands-on shaping, glassing, and testing experimental prototypes, the Firewire S Boss surfboard was born. This progressive design takes high performance surfboards to the next level.

The Origins: Kelly’s Initial Vision

Kelly had been working on some unique shortboard outlines which he brought to Dan back in the deserted Firewire factory during the 2020 pandemic-era .

The overall goal was to build the highest-performance magic stick possible by improving on these aspects:

  • Bullet Nose - With its length chopped off, it reduces swing weight 
  • Parallel Outline - Maximum drive and hold from front of board
  • Round Pin Tail - Enhanced control through turns

Kelly Slater with S Boss surfing

    Dan and Kelly precisely refined prototypes, working with both outlines and bottom contours to strike the perfect balance. The final product represents some of Kelly’s forward-focused design concepts bundled into one progressive rocket ship of a surfboard.

    Outline and Dimensions

    The most visually striking aspect of the S Boss surfboard is undoubtedly the bullet nose outline. This stubby chopped nose drops up to 3 inches of length from the front of the surfboard compared to a traditional shortboard shape. The goal is allowing surfers to ride shorter boards that fit tighter in the pocket for increased maneuverability.

    According to Dan:

    That bullet nose allows for the last little bit, two or three inches of the nose to be essentially chopped off. So you can ride a shorter board but it also allows for a real parallel outline - a shortboard outline.

    Complementing this bullet nose, the rest of the outline incorporates a parallel rail line from front to back with a classic rounded pin tail. This combination essentially fuses the best elements of drive, speed, and control into one package.

    firewire S Boss

    As far as dimensions, available sizes range from 5’6” on the ultra-small end up to about 5’11”. Dan’s personal S Boss measures:

    • 5’11” length
    • 20.5” width
    • 30 liters volume

    So significantly shorter and wider than an average shortboard with decreased foam for high-performance surfing. The compact outline lets it fit easily underfoot and whip around rapidly.

    Construction and Materials

    The S Boss surfboard construction comes in Firewire’s top-end builds designed for balancing weight savings and durability. Specifically:

    • Helium Technology - Ultra lightweight EPS foam core
    • Ibolic - Heat cured epoxy exterior skin
    • Volcanic Ash - Enhanced resin containing volcanic particles

    Firewire S Boss

    According to Dan there is minimal perceived difference between these material variations. They all aim for high strength to weight ratios crucial for performance surfboards. Compared to classic polyurethane boards, the S Boss surfboard feels slightly lighter and lively without sacrificing ruggedness.


    Bottom Contours and Rails

    Herein lies the magic that sets the S Boss surfboard apart as a true leap forward in performance shapes. The bottom utilizes a complex contour pattern stoking maximum acceleration to twist speed. The most unique design element is surely the hybrid double barrel to central V concave.

    Traditionally front foot concaves aid paddle speed and rail to rail transitions while central V channels increase drag. As Dan explains:

    I always thought the concave allows for a hovering fluttering above the limit on speed, no drag. So when Kelly said he wants to do a similar double barrel but in a V under the front foot I was hesitant...I associated V with drag limiting speed. But the combination of the outline and double barrel breaks this up and allows for incredible acceleration.

    Somehow this unlikely pairing generates instant speed burst rather than the expected stability issues. From the fins back it transitions to a standard single concave release. There is also a moderate nose rocker on late drops matched to a relatively flat tail rocker enabling tight snap transitions.

    Firewire S Boss Kelly Slater

    On the rails, there is a standard medium rail with a slight easing along the edges to mitigate a bit of bite. But the main source of speed performance stems from the way bottom contours interact with the parallel + stub nose outline.


    The ideal fin configuration for the S Boss surfboard remains open to interpretation. Both thruster and quad rear setups have their merits. For quad rears, Dan recommends starting with your standard sizes then potentially sizing down given the tucked under contours.

    The shorter wider tail outline makes bigger more upright trailer fins overly stiff according to team riders' feedback. Both Kelly and Kevin Schultz continue testing out alternative mixes from smaller nubster quads to five fin options to elongated raked fronts.


    Where Does the S Boss Excel?

    Given this surfboard incorporates some of Kelly’s cutting edge dynamic theories cultivated in his surf ranch laboratory, expects it caters towards high performance surfing. However, both Dan and Kelly thoroughly field tested prototypes in real waves from beach breaks to reef breaks over multiple seasons.

    Dan confirms the S Boss surfboard truly excels across a wide variety of conditions. Of course it shines on open faced waves allowing utilization of its explosive power and precision. 

     Firewire S Boss

    The medium nose/tail rocker provides control across varied conditions that many pure performance shapes lack. Even longtime Pipeline specialist and team rider Brody now opts for this rounded pin over his normal squash at Backdoor.

    Dan calls this board the best performing model he has ever had the pleasure of riding. The combination of drive on a glassy face yet ability to whip through the most critical pocket-rides proves it a true leap forward in both efficiency and excitement.

    Kelly Slater riding the S Boss

    Make no mistake - the S Boss surfboard leans towards the high performance genre. But rather than one-dimensional, its well-conceived contours and outlines generate a thrilling versatility suitable for travelling surfers seeking magic sessions from beach breaks to dreamy reef passes.

    More S Boss Surfboard Frequently Asked Questions:

    What sizes are available for the S Boss Surfboard?

    The lineup covers smaller high performance dimensions ranging from 5’6” up to about 5’11”. Both Dan and Kelly's preferred sizes fall around 5’10” to 5’11”.

    What construction types can you get the S boss surfboard in?

    The main construction utilizes Firewire’s high-end epoxy/EPS builds like Helium, Ibolic, and Volcanic Ash so durable, lightweight performance.

    How does the epoxy S boss vary from past polyurethane boards?

    Minimal difference according to Dan Mann. Epoxy perhaps feels slightly livelier but getting the ideal size and fins matters far more than core materials.

    What fins work best in the S boss surfboard thruster setups?

    Start with standard thruster size then potentially downsize trailer fins given the rear tucked under shape. Longer raked fronts and knubster options also prove fast/loose.

    When will new S boss model boards be available for purchase?

    Limited quantities arrive intermittently. Check Hawaiian South Shore's website here for the newest updates on availability.

    Does Hawaiian South Shore offer local Oahu delivery options?

    Yes, we deliver across much of the south and west sides. Convenient for North Shore residents heading back from town trips as well. Details here.

    So in summary, Kelly's latest idea on the Firewire S boss resets boundaries of both efficiency and thrill seeking across the high performance shortboard universe. As Dan says, possibly the best performing design he has ever experienced.




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