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Nev's critique on Dominator/Spitfire/El Fuego/Futura

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  • Nev's critique on Dominator/Spitfire/El Fuego/Futura

    Here is Nev's detailed breakdown of the differences between the Dominator/ Spitfire/ El Fuego and Futura from the old forum.
    I know a couple of people wanted it brought across to this forum and I agree, it's a great insight that is still very useful.

    I have been surfing my Dominator and El Fuego a lot recently in all sorts of waves. I have been unusually quiet and hesitant to give my opinion until now. There have been many posts requesting feedback and guidance and at last I feel I have a reasonably clear perspective on the pros and cons of these two models in relation to other boards in our range and in comparison to similar board by other manufacturers .

    Firstly let me say that the Futura is not really in the same genre as the El Fuego, Dominator (or Pod etc). It is inherently more high performance in its rocker and volume. The El Fuego and Dominator/Spitfire, are more performance “fish” style boards.
    Regarding the Futura, John Gannon who is Taj’s PT and coach surfs the FA602 exclusively. For him there is no need for two or more boards. I believe it is the most under appreciated board in our range.

    The quest for ultra performance in a “fish/retro” board has thankfully led us to the Dominator/Spitfire/El Fuego range of boards that remove that compromised, out on the face, flatter style surfing of most wide tailed board, especially classic fishes. Clearly the Dominator has blown doors with regard to meeting the criteria of having the same paddle and glide as a fat thick short fish, pod biscuit, nitro etc, but also having remarkable square off the bottom, vertical in the pocket ability definitely lacking in these other designs. I have never surfed such a small board that had such solid directional control through turns. Amazing!
    Anyway, enough about the Dominator/Spitfire.

    Keep in mind that if you can only afford one board in this hybrid genre, ultimately either one will go unreal. You will develop that intimate connection that happens with much surfing and recognize the positive attributes of the design.
    However when there is CHOICE, one has the privilege of being critical, putting various designs in particular boxes, which is what I am about to do.

    I have 4 boards now in my truck. A 62 x 18 3/4 x 2 7/16”Flexfire, 5’11 El Fuego, 5’8 Spitfire and the 6’6 Addvance...(Soon there with the Sweet Potato designed by Dan Mann!!!! Mark Price says it will be my 1-2ft board...I am going crazy...How are you all holding up???)

    Over the past couple of months I have had some magic sessions on my El Fuego, and I have determined that it surfs exactly as I expected, which IS clearly different to the Dominator / Spitfire.

    Here are my experiences, keeping in mind I am average Joe in ability @ 51yrs, 70kg and 5’11” tall and I am referring to 1 to 5ft waves.

    Yalingup, super fun 4 to 5ft lefts after the Taj Small Fries event. I needed to out paddle 6 to 10 competent longboarders and thankfully got a ridiculous amount of waves...I could not believe how fast and drivey it felt. As positive off the bottom as my 6’2 Flexfire. Big full loopy on rail cutbacks. The board had that rail to rail glide that a fish has, not so square off the bottom but sensational when you leaned into the turn. I felt that if I was on my 5’8 Dom, turns would have been a tad too quick and short..I think I could have gone a bit more vertical in certain sections, but most likely I would have nursed it through turns in that mid strength offshore wind. No worries though, with the El Fuego.

    Snapper...Easter weekend before heading to Bells. 4ft and packed, but...O.M.G! I swear I have never gone that fast. I could pump it rail to rail and just keep winding up the dial...Then into speed shedding roundhouses or long floaters. I got one wave from this side of the “behind the rock” to the middle of Cooly.....Slaloming though the manic crowd.
    I do not think that he Dominator would have gone that quick down the line. It would have surfed tighter to the pocket and I might have pulled some more vertical maneuvers, but not made as many waves. The El Fuego’s feeling of forward momentum/glide at warp speed, but with back foot control, is I believe unique to this board.

    Rincon / Bells bowl 2 to 4ft 2 sessions. Morning was clean and fun... Rincon is one of those point waves that requires quick down the line speed from takeoff, BUT with a more vertical approach to that often crumbly foamy lip always coming at you. I felt I would have been much better on my Dominator but there was literally no-one out!! Everyone was heading to pre heat surf or get a spot to watch the event. There was no way I was going to run up to my car parked at Winki to swap as I was having too much fun. If this was my only “hybrid” I would have been satisfied that the board went so well... However I gotta admit that all I could think of was how well my Spitfire would be going! Ha!
    Late arvo sesh and I grabbed the Spitfire and the thing went mental...Case closed.

    Now I am really starting to understand these boards.
    Fat open faces where you need rail in the water holding it’s line?...El Fuego
    Racy walls where speed is king and you have the section ahead to shed all that speed via sweet roundhouse, extended re-entry floater or boost for a air?...El Fuego
    Beachies where front foot drive/resistance is required to maintain speed to get to the next foam ball coming at you?... El Fuego
    Reefs that are bumpy, strong offshore where you need glide with inherent speed to gracefully go from rail to rail, so as to figure what the heck the wave is gunna do?...El Fuego.
    I foot peelers when all you want to do is do the “Reno Abellira”...Do a cheater five.... Forever? ( Surfabout circa 1977?) El Fuego

    So where does the Dominator/Spitfire fit in now??? Everywhere else where you need to turn on a dime with speed.

    Sucky racing walls that give you plenty of ops for a vertical snap here and there...Quick off the mark high line drives, drop into the bowl, square off the bottom and up into the lip....Up and down with rhythm and control ,and plenty of speed and forgiveness to boot. Dominator/Spitfire.
    Punchy peaky beachies, where you take off late, square it off the bottom with speed into a snap. Surfing tight to the power in waves that require spontaneity and the need to keep moving rail to rail... Dominator/Spitfire
    Reefs that beg you to go top to bottom, pull in and come out into a gouge...Immediate recovery underfoot, back on plane and into the next turn....Can you feel it? Dominator/Spitfire
    One foot peelers when you wind up sooooo much speed, whilst still doing tight little cheater fives, just full tilt windup Energizer rabbit amp-out.... Dominator/Spitfire

    The verdict if you have to choose? (what a bummer!)

    Generally, I’d go with the Dominator/Spitfire, if you have a normal board to back you up for those more open faced days when you need draw/length in your turns.
    The El Fuego could almost be an all round board, one board option as it holds a longer line when needed but still rips when conditions are marginal. (but not quite as vertical/tight as the Dom/ spitfire)
    It is a no brainer if you love that inherent “fish” feel, but still want to TURN!

    The Dominator/Spitfire as a one board option would be leaving yourself short.
    The El Fuego?..maybe not as much, but I reckon you’d still need your trusty normal board.
    and the Futura?..Yes, you could definitely surf this as a one board option, albeit not as good in the particular areas of strength of the Dom/Spitfire/El Fuego.
    The El Fuego will not make the Futura redundant...No way.
    Clear as mud?


  • #2
    More from Nev on the Addvance and El Fuego

    Following is some info on the new Addvance and how it compares to the Dominator…And then some info on the new El Fuego.

    Unfair Addvantage
    There are two ways to consider the Addvance... Going Up or Coming Down.

    Going up.

    You ride a short board and have considered getting a long board because you are not as fit as you used to be and are frustrated no end. You just can’t get your quota! Your turns may be a bit longer but you’ll still be ripping. More importantly you’ll be catching waves!!
    Or, you hold your own when it is good, but the Pros, Groms, Longboarders and SUPers get all the sets....
    You want more, you greedy bugger. So, some days, instead of getting a tanker, catching heaps and just cruising, you pull out the Addvance and take over.
    (Actually...NO!...People like you are hereby and forthwith banned from ever owning an Addvance.)

    Coming Down.

    You ride a Mini Mal, or Longboard and love the paddle and the inherent glide, but you wish you could hit the lip, or pull off a clean roundhouse in the pocket like you used to...
    Or maybe you have always ridden a longboard and you want to feel what shortboard freedom is all about but don’t want to lose the paddle. You have tried Big Fishes but you don’t get the glide as they are too foiled (thin) in the nose and tail, and too wide under your back foot!
    Enter the Addvance. It has similar volume as a longer mini mal, or long board, but is shorter and wider, with the volume evenly distributed from nose to tail and out to the rail.
    Combine this with a fuller nose template and a narrower swallow tail, and you have a board that has supreme paddle, instant up and glide, totally forgiving rails, and surprisingly positive in the pocket drive from the narrower tail.
    There is a sweet concave under front foot for lift and speed, running into a double concave tail vee, for rail to rail manoeuvrability and squirt.
    The entry nose curve is contemporary with nice Rail Chines forward to keep the front rail free and fast. Tail curve has a bit of kick, which helps it to turn on a dime.
    The result of all this is that if you for example, came down from a 9’0”, to a 7’2” Addvance, you will catch as many waves, but you will be absolutely ripping the bag baby! Chicks may even start digging you (again)
    ...Oh yeah, and for the girls, you will tick off your Tanker riding boyfriend big time by surfing circles around him....
    Vance Burrow, (Taj’s old man who is about 5’8”x 80+ kilos and 60+ years young) has been my collaborator in the design of this evil surfboard. He rips on his 6’10 “Little Boat”, the original prototype of the Addvance.
    He believes in having an unfair Addvantage...

    Difference between the Advance and Dominator?

    The Dominator should be considered a high performance board for smaller gutless waves, in lieu of a wide tail Fish, Pod.
    It is usually a step down from your normal board, but not too wide in the tail to inhibit performance surfing.
    A Dominator will still go square off the bottom and into a vertical turn. If you rip go 6” shorter than your normal short board. If more average in ability go 4” shorter. We have ex WQS standard surfers who ride their Dominators 80% of the time, they go that good.

    The Addvance can be a legitimate switch, from long boarding to short boarding without sacrificing paddle and glide. Or it can be a fun addition to the quiver for more paddle and glide, in lieu of resorting to a long board.

    The volume and stability of both boards are perfect for beginner to average ability surfers who need every bit of help they can get, but who also don’t want to ride a long board. Although there are only two boards in the range that match, (the 6’10” and the 6’6”) my preference for the beginner to average surfer is to go for the Addvance, if you are trying to choose the one that will be easiest to surf. The reason being is that whilst they have similar volume for paddling, the Addvance had a bit more bottom curve and a slightly narrower tail, allowing for quicker response to a turn. It takes more power and drive (experience) to put the Dominator on rail for a turn. A better example is my personal choice of the 5’8” Dominator. I surfed the 5’10 first, which I thought would be perfect for my 69kg frame and experience, however It was too thick in the tail. It lacked drive off the bottom, which is the turn that set’s up all manoeuvres. I dropped down to the 5’8” and viola! Perfect!

    O.M.G !! The El Fuego is such a good board.
    It is more high performance than the Dominator and should be surfed 2 to 4” shorter than your normal board, depending on ability.
    The main ingredients are the forward volume and nose area that provides resistance under front foot loading, when pumping down the line whilst looking for speed from nothing. It is not too thick and wide from the centre to tail, allowing for on edge rail carves to offload that speed with plenty of squirt! Full High Performance Fish surfing. This board feel as right under foot as your favourite all round board does. It can be surfed as a Quad or Thruster with almost no adjustment to stance required. The rails are super forgiving. It is crazy how quick off the mark it is and how on rail you can get it. Phew!

    It IS the board for you, if you are inspired by what Kelly has been riding lately.
    The wider nose, narrower tail gig is what I was doing 18 years ago, which I called the “Retro Rocket” under the "nev" brand. They had almost exactly the same outline rocker and foil. Danny Wills wanted to surf his on the WCT, and amazing surfers like Guy Walker and a young Rasta loved them…but they were too early and did not have enough volume to compete with the Fish Retro Renaissance. Thankfully we are evolving back to this High Performance Fish style of board. For Firewire, the Retro Rocket was the inspiration for the Dominator, that Dan Mann did so well by adding volume and reducing tail rocker. It has also been the inspiration for the Futura and now the El Fuego.


    • #3
      More from Nev on Dom vs El Fuego

      If you have ridden Fishes you know that it is more about the front foot drive you get due to the volume/resistance that pushes back at you when driving forward through turns, keeping that rail in the water.(narrow nose tends to bury earlier, therefore you have to surf more off the tail)
      The main thing lacking in a Fish is vertical drive/squirt in the pocket, due to usually excessive the tail width...You gotta go out wide and loop through your turns. With the El Fuego I reduced the volume, but maintained the greater percentage of volume forward.(the foil or profile is unusual, but functional) Then I reduced the outline/tail width so that the wide point is clearly forward. This enables the board to be more in control in the pocket allowing more vertical surfing from the narrower drivey tail. However, when generating speed and surfing the flatter waves, that front foot volume/resistance keeps the board moving free and fast. I reckon the El Fuego will be great for front foot surfers (especially older guys who learn't on singles), and guys who love a Fish but want a bit more drive. AND anyone else that wants to try something different!!. When avaliable, DEMO one and drop us some feedback.

      The Dominator, in short, is a tad more like a normal board in its DNA and is best surfed off the tail. The more you jam over the fins, the more control you will have through turns. The volume under back foot allows this and, due to the flatter tail rocker and volume carried evenly forward, the board is quite predictable.

      So...If I had to choose, my normal board being a 6'2" Thruster (I am 70K). I choose the Dominator. BUT I have also a single fin DNA, so I do like the El Fuego too...I have a 5'11 but want to try the 5'9"... For me it is fair to say the jury is still out. For you? If you have never surfed or don't like Fishes and missed Singles then go the DOM!


      • #4
        How good is that!

        Thanks posting


        • #5
          Thanks for getting on that PRJ!!! Valuable words from a madman!


          • #6
            prjwebb- How heavy and tall are you?


            • #7
              Around the 170lbs/77kg mark and maybe a touch over 6ft.