Today on The Wire we’re joined by Daniel ‘Tomo’ Thomson, who you already know as the designing mind behind The Sci-Fi, The Omni, The SKX and many more surfboards, like The EVO, which after several years is still one of the most popular boards at surf shops around the world. This conversation was recorded during the Hurley Trestles Pro in September and it covers many things. Like the low point in Daniel's life that inspired him to set the path that has led to his current position as one of the world's most well known and respected surfboard designers. He discusses the difference between working with Kelly Slater and Stu Kennedy. He also shares the backwards approach to designing surfboards for big waves and why it works so well, and much more. Enjoy.
You're flying westward towards the ocean above Orange County, moments before landing at John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana, and there you see it. Out the window. Painted on top of a factory roof big enough to take in clearly from your seat on American Airlines. It is Birdie. Wearing his Birdwells. He is the iconic mascot of Birdwell Beach Britches, and he is the X that marks the spot on Birdwell's HQ, only visible from airplane or helicopter. Birdwell is the longest running advertiser in SURFER Magazine because they’re one of the longest running board short manufacturers on earth. In fact, they were one of the first companies to sell boardshorts commercially; specifically tailored to the needs of surfers, as still evidenced today by the wax pocket on each pair, designed to hold an entire bar of wax. It’s design elements like this along with the easy to notice label on Birdwell’s high waisted trims that make these shorts some of the most recognizable articles of surf wear in lineups today, even among surfers who don’t wear them. After a storied history, Birdwell is today owned by an unexpected group of surfers from Facebook and Instagram. They grew up surfing and today shepherd the board short maker from a rich past towards a future horizon, at the same address that Birdwell has called home for decades. C.E.O. Geoff Clawson joins us on today's episode of The Wire Podcast to discuss what life is like as a surfer at Facebook and Instagram, what made Birdwell Beach Britches seem like such an exciting company to own, and how he carefully balances product innovation with paying homage to Birdwell's traditions. We also cover much more. Enjoy!
This episode is an hour and a half of hanging with Kelly Slater in his San Clemente home alongside Action The Dog. We talk about The Gamma (his new surfboard), golfing with Bill Murray, and the difference between finding yourself stranded on an island with Eddie Vedder vs. Jimmy Buffet. We also dig into the details behind Kelly's role at Outerknown, what life was like when he was sponsored by Quiksilver, and previously unheard stories about his friends Dane Reynolds and Bob Hurley. We also go on a lot of fun and unexpected tangents such as cryogenically freezing yourself on accident (don't do it), the curiosity of brain traumas, the social habits of dogs vs. humans, and what it's like to make deep changes in your diet, life habits and more If you enjoy this episode, you can rate it 5 stars on iTunes.
Jess Lambert meditates calmly on what others might find tedious. She’s known around her home in Byron Bay, Australia as someone who can spend as much as 10 to 30 hours drawing intricate lines on surfboards that interweave to create the enchanting aesthetic you can see in the show notes for this episode at firewiresurfboards.com/the-wire. Since drawing on her first surfboard in 2014 she has created over 50 pieces in total that have have been sent to clients across Australia, the U.K., China and more. But her art on Timbertek and LFT boards from designers like Daniel Thomson and Dan Mann doesn’t just hang on the wall in clients homes and offices. Jess often has her work coated when finished, so that clients can slide it across the water on waves, and not just show it off to friends. Enjoy this episode.
Without Dougall Walker you might not be surfing a Firewire Surfboard and Kelly Slater might not own a surfboard company. Before he became CEO of Volcom Australia, Dougall Co-Founded Firewire. But this story doesn't begin there. In 1980 he was the first person ever to surf a thruster in Hawaii. And in 1986 he was tapped by Billabong Founder Gordon Merchant to join Billabong as Sales Manager. Dougall spent the next 18 years helping to grow Billabong, eventually retiring from his post as General Manager of Billabong Australasia in 2004, a year that Billabong earned hundreds of millions in revenue. Not bad for a brand that started out making board shorts on a kitchen table. It was difficult for Dougall to leave his staff of 300 people but he wanted to surf more and wanted to hang more with family. And now he's excited to hang with you in this episode of The Wire Podcast.
Ron Shine sorts through at least 300 photos a day. Each one shows a surfboard. and each one was sent to him by a fan who has emailed, tagged, texted or messaged him. To give you an idea of just how sought after his surfboard centric attention is, we recorded this podcast when Ron had 135,000 followers. He now has 145,000. A 10k increase of audience in just weeks for BoardPorn - the account he owns, manages and oversees on Instagram. It’s a task that would tire many but for Ron, it’s an energizing endeavor that brings surfing into his life in the moments that he’s not actually surfing. The first 25 minutes of this episode explores the details of why Ron started BoardPorn, and how he turned it into what it’s become today. This conversation then turns to Tomo Surfboards, Dan Mann, and more as we settle in for an hour of surfboard talk. Enjoy!
This new episode of The Wire Podcast focuses on three of Dan's most recognizable surfboards: The Sweet Potato (2010) The Baked Potato (2012) and the Chumlee (2017).
Each board has grown a loyal following for different reasons, and each board has a party of surfers ready to claim it superior over the other two. These three boards highlight just how personal surfboard preferences are; the likelihood of the Chumlee being your favorite board and the Baked Potato being your best friends favorite is strong. And this is the focus of this episode.
Dan, Chris, and Mark each have different favorites, different preferred fins, opinions, etc, and this is a conversation that will be fun to drop in on.
John Moore’s magic fits into a single sentence: Without John, the world’s most authentic surf brand wouldn’t exist today, and neither would the world’s least authentic surf brand. John went to Art School as a surfer from California in the 90’s. His intention was to study painting and printmaking. Designing clothing never crossed his mind. But John was so talented that Abercrombie and Fitch wanted him. He was recruited heavily. The pitches came and he ignored them. And then one day he allowed the opportunity take him and he proceeded to create the look and feel of Hollister Surf Co. It was years later in 2011 that he resurrected M. Nii. These are the initials of a 1940’s tailor from Waianae Hawaii who made the world’s first surf specific shorts for surfers. Think about that – a tiny tailor; M. Nii was the first mover in what has now become the defacto poolside fashion for kids in Montana and adults in France – board shorts. See, John’s craft is creating things out of thin air and also employing a keen eye for the interesting. His superpower is taking whatever crazy idea you have and actually creating the thing. Because of this, he’s uncommonly impactful in the act of designing board shorts and living spaces and human experiences. Visual landscapes even. He can discuss the jacket and the pants. And the way their fabric print compliment the skin tone of a model as she stands in front of a camera. And he’ll actually know what he is talking about. This is why surf brands like Quiksilver have consulted him for input and opinions on the design of swimwear and clothing and the creation of entire brands. It’s how he and Kelly Slater became friends and collaborators. Today, John is the Creative Director at Outerknown. The brand he and Kelly created to represent travel, sustainability, and style. And this episode will keep your ear close to the speaker for more than an hour. Because John’s story is an example of the incredible control someone can have over the way they live their life and the things they spend their time doing.
This episode is a long and calm hour and five minutes of deep talks with Rob that you’ll want to sink into. So pour a cup of Yerba Mate or whip up an Acai bowl and set some headphones on your head. Catch the vibe with us. This episode, like every episode, begins with an introduction. And in this case, it's an introduction that shouldn't really be there. See, the purpose of an introduction at the beginning of a podcast is to whet the audience's appetite in a way that gets them excited to listen. But exciting listeners for a conversation with Rob Machado is a bit like getting people excited to surf. Surfing is its own justification. So is Rob Machado. In fact, what this episode should really begin with is a segment where Rob introduces you to The Wire Podcast. Because Rob is the show here. Not The Wire. Rob is bigger than The Wire. In this episode we discuss his Go Fish, as well has his upcoming board models; The Midas and The Melted Butter. We also talk about the filming and editing of Proximity, why he never gets tired of surfing at Seaside Reef, and the surprising story behind why getting paid a lot of money to go surfing can actually be the scariest experience of your life. Enjoy.
Inside Firewire there are two types of surfers. The first surf the same board over and over. For example, Mike Miliken who mostly rides mid- lengths like the 8’6 Special T. Or Mark Price who mostly surfs a Vader, and an occasional Omni. Then you’ve got the other side of the spectrum - these guys surf everything. Any Tech. Any shape. They’ve got everything in rotation from a Seaxe to a Sci-Fi and everything in between. They know what they like and what they don’t. They have some techs they favor more than others, but they’ve got experience on everything, and their garage looks like a surf shop. Today we have three guests from inside of Firewire. And each one is from the second category. Mike Thomas, who is Firewire’s Art Director (who has a really wild rule that determines the volume he surfs), Mark Pesce, who is Firewire’s U.S. Shop and Sales Consultant ( who surfs the weirdest looking set of fins you’ve seen - hint: They look like the letter L), and Tony Curto, who is Firewire’s U.S. production manager (who is hilariously notorious for blowing his board selection at the Kelly Slater Wave Co’s pool in Lemoore). These guys surf Spitfires and Sweet Potatoes, Baked potatoes and Omnis. And you’ll find this episode interesting if you want insight into what your next board might be. You may also find clues about why you like certain shapes and build technologies more than others.
Andy Stern enlisted Futures Fins and The Scripps Institution of Oceanography in pursuit of a breakthrough in the way humanity understands the ocean. And a breakthrough in surfboard fins. A Yale graduate and former professional squash player, Andy has created a fin set that measures ocean chemistry and gathers data while you surf. Salinity. PH balance. Temperature. Wave data. It’s all collected through your fins as you ride waves. But Andy is not just the founder of a noteworthy achievement in fin design. He also commissions sculptures of extinct birds and places them in the wild where the species was last seen before vanishing. He also has a Zen Buddhist meditation practice that often entails week-long silent retreats. This is a special episode and we’re excited to have you join us on The Wire.
Punker Pat surfs an Evo. He also has the keys to a recording studio at Hurley. This episode was recorded in the same space that Blink-182, Weezer and Social Distortion have recorded. It's housed inside a building on the campus that Hurley and Nike call home in Costa Mesa. It's the place that Michel Bourez, Rob Machado and others under the Hurley / Nike umbrella come to re-fill on board shorts, pick up new wetsuits and strategize upcoming surf trips, like the explorations seen in John John Florence’s 'View From A Blue Moon'. This episode covers much, such as the role Pat had in designing the Unibrow years before Firewire released it, the one trick to getting in and out barrels while bodysurfing, how anyone can record good video footage of themselves surfing and much more, like Pat's thoughts on the mental habit that makes his friend such a formidable competitor. If you enjoy this episode, you can let us know by rating this podcast 5 stars on iTunes and Stitcher.
Kelly Kingston travels with two board bags wherever she goes. And she goes everywhere. There are enough obscure stamps on her passport pages to cause even the most jaded TSA agent to blink twice - Haiti, Peru, Columbia - her travel bag of choice is made by FCS, and it’s most often filled with Firewire boards like the Sci-Fi, Baked Potato, and Omni - her favorite. She surfs it often near her home in Lake Worth Florida. In 2016 Kelly received more than 150 surfboards from Firewire. But she didn’t surf them all. They were distributed worldwide through her organization Share The Stoke. Since 2008 Kelly has used Share The Stoke as a vehicle to donate over 700 surfboards to kids in more than 20 countries. But she began small. In fact, the origin story of Share The Stoke carries the same intrigue as any tale of inception, whether two computer programmers in a Palo Alto garage or Jeff Kelly, founder of Sanuk, creating prototypes in a Del Mar garage and making all the original sales calls himself. In this new episode of The Wire Podcast Kelly shares a lot about the accidental path that led her to her purpose in life which is to, in her words, ‘Share the gift of surfing”. We’re excited to have you join us.
As CEO of the Surfrider Foundation, Chad Nelsen drops hammers on the people who tread on your surfing experience. And he’s damn good at it. From saving Trestles, to stopping off-shore drilling to banning single-use plastic bags in California, Chad has directed Surfrider through their most successful year ever in 2016, with 60 coastal victories achieving outcomes such as stopping the flow of up to 240 million gallons of waste into Huntington Beach waters each day, and ending the way gambling boats used to dump 44 million gallons of waste into the sea each year in Florida. See, if you’ve ever ridden a wave in North America, there’s a good chance the Surfrider Foundation has, at least in a small way, enabled your ability to enjoy whatever surf break you got wet at, and that’s the reason we asked Chad to join us for this episode of The Wire - he is uncommonly good at organizing action and influencing change. This episode is both a mood enhancer and a how-to guide; listening to it will make you happy if you surf because we discuss the many ways surfers won in 2016 and the progress being made this year, and anyone in a non-profit or startup will benefit from Chad’s perspective on everything from fundraising to spending funds effectively for maximum benefit. Please enjoy, and rate this podcast 5 stars if you want to make it easy for others to find, but of course, the choice is yours.
Dan Mann has retired in Australia. And Spain, South Africa and Portugal, all while being the most successful surfboard designer no one has ever heard of. And in this episode, we crack his secrets wide open. Consider for a second some of the surfboard models you've ridden: The Baked Potato, The Sweet Potato, The Potato-Nator... The list could go on for another ten or twelve surfboards. But Dan's face remains unrecognizable when walking the streets of Coronado in San Diego, and he receives 2% of the attention that more well-known designers do, even though they might have less than half the amount of surfboards under the feet of surfers that Dan has. And the best part? This has been intentional. Dan rides a bike to the beach on most mornings with his son Lance, and surfing isn't the only activity taking place in the Mann household. His wife dances Flamengo. His daughter does Ballet. And his family has a vibe that seems more similar to Swiss Family Robinson than his proximity to downtown San Diego would imply. Behind it all is Dan's decision to devote time and energy to family and surfing, and participating in uncommon ways of thinking that inspire his yoga and movement practice. So join us in the studio behind Dan’s home, for this episode of The Wire.
Before becoming CEO of Firewire Mark Price had executive positions at many of the surf brands you’ve heard of - Gotcha, Rip Curl, Reef and others. He competed as a professional in the early 1980’s before beginning a career in the surf industry that has spanned 35 years. Today he arrives at work in board shorts on many days where he runs a surfboard brand that is owned by Kelly Slater and his group of environmentally minded investors. This makes Mark one of the better examples in our industry of making a living as a surfer, close to the beach, over ones entire lifetime. This episode functions as a toolkit for business owners, entrepreneurs and others who want to navigate buzzwords like “sustainability” and “environmentally friendly”. But we also cover much more. Enjoy!
Jess Ponting was the first person in the world to earn a PHD in Sustainable Surf Tourism Management years ago. Today he is the Director of The Center for Surf Research at San Diego State University. Sound fun? It is - he dables in many exotic surf destinations you've heard of promoting environmental and social sustainability. He is also the co-founder of Stoke Certified; the world's first sustainability certification program for surf and ski tourism operators. Jess is exciting as a case study on how to align career ambitions with life passions, but he's also much more than that: this conversation contains a fascinating look at the way our actions as surfers in the ocean (or in wave pools) have impacts both good and bad, on everything around us. Enjoy!