Firewire Move Exclusively To Futures Fins Boxes

Stu Nettle picture
Stu Nettle (stunet)
Swellnet Dispatch

This week, Firewire Surfboards announced they’d break from convention and phase out all FCS boxes in their boards. This means that, within a few months, Firewire and all its subsidiaries will only be available with Futures boxes, and hence used with Futures compatible fins.

Speaking with Shop Eat Surf, Firewire CEO Mark Price said the decision was “one of the most difficult conversations I’ve had in my life because we have had a twenty-year relationship.”

Firewire shaper Dan Mann with a set of now defunct FCS x Firewire fins

In the mid-90s, Futures and FCS both rose as popular fin systems, pushing aside smaller players such as O’Fish’L, RedX, and Speed. Currently, FCS have a larger majority in Australia, while the table tilts the other way for Futures in the US. Globally, the market share is roughly 50/50.

At first glance, the news would indicate that this deadlock is in jeopardy; that if other large manufacturers were to follow suit, then Futures may become the dominant system. However, there are business considerations unique to Firewire that aren’t mentioned in the news article, and which would prevent a large shift one way or the other.

Price noted that the FCS/Futures duopoly is, “a nightmare from a production efficiency standpoint.” Effectively, every model has to be doubled which reduces production efficiency.

“The only reason the situation exists is because these two companies have generated such dominant market share that nobody wanted to pick one over the other,” said Price. “That’s been the status quo for twenty years and no-one wanted to take the risk. Neither did we.”

Price says the company ran through a list of options for the dilemma, including a failed attempt to create a universal fin system, then when supply chain shortages hit during COVID they started surveying customers about design priorities finding that “fins were way down the list of considerations.”

This, according to Price, was the trigger for choosing just one system. The next consideration, however, was which one?

Justifications given to SES include domestic production (FCS is made in China while Futures is made in California), and yet another efficiency consideration: “With Futures, the cant is in the base of the fins,” Price explained. “But FCS has the cant built into the fin box, with multiple cant options offered through various boxes.”

However, there are other considerations not ventured in the SES article. No mention is made of Endorfins, the fin brand Kelly Slater launched late last year - remember Kelly Slater also owns Firewire - and which are made by Scarfini, a company that Kelly has majority-ownership of.

When selling boards, manufacturers often suggest fins that fit the design. Now that Firewire effectively owns Scarfini, who make Endorfins, the public can expect those suggestions to be somewhat limited. Firewire will lean all the way into their vertical integration strategy.

Also, despite offering a number of reasons for choosing Futures, Firewire’s decision may be more focussed on the bottom line. FCS claim they were approached by Firewire to license the FCSII technology, but they turned them down - FCS still have an active patent over their FCSII base.

Futures, however, have no such patent over their fin boxes, meaning Firewire can use those free of charge. In fact, it’s likely that the boxes won’t be made by Futures at all, but instead simply be ‘Futures compatible boxes’ made by someone else - here’s looking at you, Scarfini.

If that becomes the case, neither Futures nor FCS could be considered winners in this deal.

In his article with SES, Price says, “we believe that the Futures system’s creates more drive”. However, Kelly has exclusively ridden FCS his whole career and all his CT boards this year were FCS…with apparently inferior drive.

Kelly, at left, showcasing his quiver for the 2022 Aussie leg, and at right his 2021 Mexican quiver - all boards with FCSII

Another hit to Price’s justification about choosing Future’s is that they’re “just down the street”, which presumably overcomes the supply chain woes he cites. Yet every Firewire board is made in Thailand, while Scarfini fins are made in South Africa.

From a business perspective, stripping out one fin system is a sound decision. Firewire reduces costs by streamlining the production process for their boards, similarly Endorfins streamline their operations, and every Endorfin fits every Firewire board. The fins are likely sold at the same time, and if the customer is online it’s one more click for traction, leash, and a board bag, all made by Firewire.

There’s a chance that Firewire may lose customers loyal to FCS, however that’s a risk they’ve weighed against the benefit of reduced production costs. Those savings are only available to vertically structured companies such as Firewire, hence little impact will be felt elsewhere and the FCS/Futures duopoly will remain.

Comments

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno Tuesday, 13 Sep 2022 at 4:20pm

Vertical integration... Henry Ford was so ingenious that the packaging for some components sourced from his wholly owned suppliers became the floorboards on the Model T. There's some inspiration for the efficiency gains gurus. Henry was also able to reduce the cost of the Model T for the customer for 27 years in a row I believe (gasp! deflation) - not possible in todays money system.

On fins, it's all very interesting. Adapters can convert FCS1 tabs into finbox fittings - there would have to be one that converts FCS1 or 2 into futures. Maybe not vice-versa

dave's picture
dave's picture
dave Tuesday, 13 Sep 2022 at 5:07pm

Unsure if this works but yes, FCS to future adapter is availble. https://www.wasabisurf.com/
However they are currently sold out.

PeteWebb's picture
PeteWebb's picture
PeteWebb Tuesday, 13 Sep 2022 at 5:02pm

Wasn't Henry Ford also known for introducing planned obsolescence as well? Something Firewire has obviously worked into their business plan.

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno Tuesday, 13 Sep 2022 at 10:00pm

I don't know about that, but he did design the T to run on ethanol with the idea that farmers make their own fuel/keep their hard earned

Le_Reynard's picture
Le_Reynard's picture
Le_Reynard Wednesday, 14 Sep 2022 at 9:22pm

i think it was Gillette that was known for introducing it with their razors.

fishnsurf's picture
fishnsurf's picture
fishnsurf Tuesday, 13 Sep 2022 at 6:30pm

eh

mickseq's picture
mickseq's picture
mickseq Tuesday, 13 Sep 2022 at 7:09pm

I bought 2 pyzels w futures a few years ago, I gave them away after one Indo trip, fins and all.

eel's picture
eel's picture
eel Tuesday, 13 Sep 2022 at 7:27pm

All my boards are fcs2 these days including a Slater Designs sci fi 2. I wouldn't buy another if it was futures. I have seen so many futures 5 fin box boards snap right above the front fin boxes, including 2 of my own in the past.

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo Tuesday, 13 Sep 2022 at 8:12pm

What Brand of Board snapped in Front of Futures Boxes PU or EPS ?
Install error...

eel's picture
eel's picture
eel Wednesday, 14 Sep 2022 at 6:54am

2 MG PU boards of my own from a number of years back. And a PU Pyzel of a mates the other week.

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo Wednesday, 14 Sep 2022 at 7:27am

Hmm Laminated by R....? Have never seen a snap across that area only on Board with a single fin box where a big part of Stringer has been removed
Bit of chat here by lanky dean on Futures installs
https://www.swellnet.com/comment/693783

Mad_DB's picture
Mad_DB's picture
Mad_DB Wednesday, 14 Sep 2022 at 10:01am

Interesting. I am a big guy (95kg) historically doing lots of damage to boards via myself and also from waves. I started riding Firewire a decade ago and my snap rate fell from 2-3 per year to 1 every 5 years (however I never snapped a PU or firewire at the boxes, usually at the middle or the nose).

But for the record, I have blown maybe 10+ fin plugs (in Firewire and PU), from clipping the reef, coming off my pushbike, but mostly just bottom turning hard on a biggish wave -always the inside plug on the turn. Always FCS boxes, never once Futures boxes. With FCS1 sometimes the fin pops out or cracks leaving the tabs in the box, sometimes the box is intact, sometimes it requires some attention. I have never had this issue with Futures, so good news for me, I would be sad if it was the other way, commiserations to the FCS enthusiasts (you are probably little people like KS).

Andrew P's picture
Andrew P's picture
Andrew P Tuesday, 13 Sep 2022 at 8:10pm

Ford vs Holden, surf version

Glass ins for mine

blackers's picture
blackers's picture
blackers Tuesday, 13 Sep 2022 at 9:36pm

Reckon so. Have a shed full of futures, with a solitary FCS 1 board sitting lonely and rarely ridden. Becomes self-fulfilling after a critical point is reached - loads of fins to fit, can't see myself buying a board with FCS plugs coz I dont want to keep buying more fins.

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno Tuesday, 13 Sep 2022 at 10:00pm

So you're a Valiant man, then

Andrew P's picture
Andrew P's picture
Andrew P Wednesday, 14 Sep 2022 at 7:53am

A Renaissance Man, if you will!

I have ridden futures for the last 10 years as they feel closer to glass ins than the FCS1s i had before that. Mainly ride AM medium and large templates in thruster and quad, with a couple of the AI kinetik racing fin sets which i liked. The foiled foam filled fibreglass fins were my favourites for FCS. Have never tried the FCS2s

blackers's picture
blackers's picture
blackers Wednesday, 14 Sep 2022 at 10:30am

If that was aimed at me, ouch! :) More like Datsun or Mazda than the others.

Andrew P's picture
Andrew P's picture
Andrew P Wednesday, 14 Sep 2022 at 12:00pm

Ha nah mate I’m a renaissance man with my love for outdated tech. Fixed fins, old corollas etc

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno Wednesday, 14 Sep 2022 at 7:00pm

Me too, can still rebuild a carburetor :)
The hemi motors had honk, so the Valiant bit was a compliment. Some of the funnest $800 I ever spent

memlasurf's picture
memlasurf's picture
memlasurf Sunday, 25 Sep 2022 at 12:58pm

Thought that reference may be lost on a younger generation. Those slant sixes were a good motor.

Sprout's picture
Sprout's picture
Sprout Tuesday, 13 Sep 2022 at 8:14pm

No more Firewires for me then, can't say I care though, support your local shapers.

Hazrus's picture
Hazrus's picture
Hazrus Tuesday, 13 Sep 2022 at 8:59pm

I much prefer futures, but Mark Price’s arguments were transparent at best.

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno Tuesday, 13 Sep 2022 at 10:03pm

FCS fusion 'peanuts' are the greatest ;) FCS1 tabs, broad strong light base that doesn't interfere with tail flex - you look like you are behind the times but really you are ahead of them

& those FCS1 tabs are closest to a 'universal' fin tab, they are small and can go in other finplugs/finboxes with or without adapters

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet Wednesday, 14 Sep 2022 at 6:40am

Amateur scientist tests Futures and FCSII tabs:

&t=14s

eat-your-vegies's picture
eat-your-vegies's picture
eat-your-vegies Wednesday, 14 Sep 2022 at 7:08am

Yup
Old FCS round fin tabs work in channels , deep concaves like bonzers and any other weird acid derived conception you can think of.
They’re strong if done well.
You can trim the tabs of your fins to move im a little forward or back .
A little more or less cant.
More or less toe.
Each fin adjusted so you can tune that board to the enth degree.

Try that with futures.

Having said that , futures are way stronger and stiffer fin base flex.

Just my opinion.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 Wednesday, 14 Sep 2022 at 9:27am

totally agree.

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo Wednesday, 14 Sep 2022 at 7:42am

Libtech did there own Futures compatable boxes with a set screw both ends .

blackers's picture
blackers's picture
blackers Wednesday, 14 Sep 2022 at 10:33am

I have one, the only time I have lost a futures fin was from it. Their boxes seem to be softer and strip at the grub screws more easily.

Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean Friday, 16 Sep 2022 at 9:45am

Lib actually use another fin system. My mate rides lib techs
Loves them .
Ill find out .
I actually toured the factory (lib) last year . only checked out the snowboard production. Super interesting.

dawnperiscope's picture
dawnperiscope's picture
dawnperiscope Wednesday, 14 Sep 2022 at 8:12am

I think it's amazing that it's taken so long for a manufacturer to make this call. They just need to sell the board with a set of cheap fins that the salesman says are specifically designed for the board and I reckon the majority of the punters will be happy. FCS will sort something out by Christmas.
Next move should be to stop building in 5 boxes. and allocate a quad or thruster to the design.

Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean Friday, 16 Sep 2022 at 9:48am

Five fins are great for the traveling surfer.
Two boards in one.

dawnperiscope's picture
dawnperiscope's picture
dawnperiscope Monday, 19 Sep 2022 at 6:45pm

Fair enough, but that can be a custom job.
Must be thousands of rear quad boxes in boards around the world that never get used.

Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean Thursday, 22 Sep 2022 at 3:28pm

Feel you are living in the dark ages if you are surfing a thruster.
Been on quads for the last decade.
Had my first quad in 84.triger bros.

dawnperiscope's picture
dawnperiscope's picture
dawnperiscope Thursday, 22 Sep 2022 at 5:11pm

Thanks for the advice.... glad we agree that 5 fins are a waste of plastic on the majority of boards

memlasurf's picture
memlasurf's picture
memlasurf Sunday, 25 Sep 2022 at 1:12pm

Nah pretty handy with a quad in hollow lefts more speed and hold on your backhand.

Clam's picture
Clam's picture
Clam Sunday, 25 Sep 2022 at 10:07pm

your totally right about that extra boxes waste

wingnut2443's picture
wingnut2443's picture
wingnut2443 Wednesday, 14 Sep 2022 at 9:36am

WOW.

I agree ... "There’s a chance that Firewire may lose customers loyal to FCS ..."

That's me ... having tried some of the more 'creative' boards like the Cymatic, Hydroshort and Hydronaught out of interest due to the elements (board design and board construction) in my ongoing evolutionary 'journey of design and construction' ... there's no way in hell, I'm about to start to buy Future type fins. My collection of FCS style fins dates back to the original FCS 'plastic fantastic' and provides a huge database of options when testing new boards.

That's me done buying any Firewire boards.

As for the "... however that’s a risk they’ve weighed against the benefit of reduced production costs ...", no doubt they've done the numbers, I'd be keen to know the stats though of recreational surfers with FCS fins vs Futures. Anecdotal observation, it's easily 4 to 1 in favour of FCS in the lineups I surf (Mid North to Northern NSW, Tweed Coast, Southern Gold Coast)

Supafreak's picture
Supafreak's picture
Supafreak Saturday, 17 Sep 2022 at 10:16am

@wingnut2443 , how did you find the hydronaut ? I’ve got a 6’8” hydronaut and it’s honestly one of the best boards I’ve owned . I was reluctant buying at first with the LFT build but learnt that the hydronaut came with a heavier blank and glass job. Ive had it now for close to 4 years and its in great condition besides the dreaded FireWire yellowing. Ive had it in solid 6’-8’ indo waves and it loves a bit of juice and still performs well in 3’-4’ . FireWire has ceased production of this model, maybe wasn’t a big seller which sux because tomo customs are expensive. I got mine originally new for $850

Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean Sunday, 18 Sep 2022 at 10:51pm

Re yellowing.
You could just lightly sand the board and paint it.
So many sponsored surfers visiting the north shore do this.
They leave the boards there for the year then paint them before next season.
I personally don't make white boards. If you paint a board before glassing it. It will look the same for as long as it's existence.
Not sure why firewire don't spray their boards they look terrible after 2 or so years color wise.

They use some pretty standard resin also.
There are way better epoxy resins
Available on the market nowdays.

dawnperiscope's picture
dawnperiscope's picture
dawnperiscope Wednesday, 14 Sep 2022 at 11:03am

FCS are going to find a way to get their fins in there.

savanova's picture
savanova's picture
savanova Wednesday, 14 Sep 2022 at 11:49am

I wonder if the fin construction material was the same as flex pattern may transfer energy differently too.

crg's picture
crg's picture
crg Wednesday, 14 Sep 2022 at 11:55am

I was speaking to a shaper and repairer locally here this morning and he said the fin box repairs are about 2 to 1...double the repair jobs on FCS. The only exception being for the twin fin set ups...almost exclusively Futures boxes ripping out.
I prefer futures myself (JJF techflex) but also have a stock of FCS2 JW in both med and large and Shapers fins in both setups as backups.
I'm not sure why anyone wouldn't build a stock in both options if you're buying stock or secondhand boards regularly. Obviously with customs you can choose but often when I'm ordering boards I see some stockies or seconds in the factory in a shape I want to try...seems stupid to limit your options over a fin box when for a couple of hundred dollars (secondhand as new fins available all the time) you can have both.

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo Wednesday, 14 Sep 2022 at 1:06pm

FCS...and they have a similiar beef up for Futures install


PVC

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo Wednesday, 14 Sep 2022 at 1:24pm
spinafex's picture
spinafex's picture
spinafex Wednesday, 14 Sep 2022 at 12:18pm

I've got both - got FCS in my HPSB and Futures in my twin fins

DudeSweetDudeSweet's picture
DudeSweetDudeSweet's picture
DudeSweetDudeSweet Wednesday, 14 Sep 2022 at 1:13pm

As stated above it’s FCS all the way as I’ve been building the fin quiver since day 1 and all boards run this system. Getting a bit over the FCS grub screw threading debacle though. No idea about Futures. I haven’t snapped a fin out in years so the strength issue is a bit moot.

As for FireWires……do people who can surf ever ride these things voluntarily . That is without sponsorship agreements? The only Pro I ever see sticking with them is Kelly Slater. Kelly is also the only pro who I consistently see riding boards that appear to handicap his surfing ability. The modern day Cheyne Horan is Kelly on his fucken FireWires.

simba's picture
simba's picture
simba Wednesday, 14 Sep 2022 at 6:50pm

well Kelly does own the company ..

sanded's picture
sanded's picture
sanded Wednesday, 14 Sep 2022 at 2:07pm

Other option of boxes just coming to the market.

We have noticed a bit of a change this year in sales in boxes last few years fcs2 was out selling futures (though for years in our shop it was neck and neck) but this year it has gone back the other way with Futures outselling FCS2? So maybe Firewire is just getting ahead of the curve?

Iced vovo's picture
Iced vovo's picture
Iced vovo Wednesday, 14 Sep 2022 at 2:14pm

I'd say 90 percent of stock boards in my local surf shop have FCS boxes and as I have a large collection of Future fins and don't want to double up, it rules out purchasing many of the major brands. Have always wondered if board manufacturers have a contract to only use a certain fin brand, though they seem to have the option open if you order a custom.

leighpr's picture
leighpr's picture
leighpr Wednesday, 14 Sep 2022 at 6:10pm

I wonder what Harley Ingleby will do. He's a Firewire team rider through his Tolhurst designed Thunderbolt constructed boards and also happens to be sponsored by FCS.

El Cap's picture
El Cap's picture
El Cap Wednesday, 21 Sep 2022 at 9:15am

Thunderbolts will be using FCS. Firewire distribute Thunderbolt, they do not own them. Harley obviously much prefers FCS.

CupCakes's picture
CupCakes's picture
CupCakes Wednesday, 14 Sep 2022 at 8:16pm

Will throw in my two cents. After years of working in factories and making/repairing boards through all stages I like to think I have my head around it but like all things in surfboard manufacturing tiny changes in production/penny saving can have a massive effect.

Modern FCS plugs fail more than Futures. Now this might just be down to the volume of mass produced boards that opt for these over Futures but I have no numbers to back this up just factory experience. FCS II plugs in high performance boards (single 4oz or 4+4oz patch) always have the same issue at the trailing edge of the fin due to the snap in nature of the design causing a lot of flex in the glass/foam when inserting the fin. This continually weakens over time especially so when some surfers take their fins out after every session or are always changing them out. Also the box design of both the Fusion and FCS II have less acute angles and are more likely to roll and release under the glass especially so in epoxy boards. The original round tab FCS plugs are surprisingly strong if done correctly, possibly even the strongest out there, but fail quickly if the deck glassing schedule is light or the board has been shaped out of soft centre foam, see a large amount of machine shapes.

Futures have issues no doubt but I would argue are far stronger especially with the T shape construction. However when Futures do break, they can make a fucking mess and are harder to repair to a high standard. Installation method is key here and varies from board to board and factory to factory. I have seen both brands installed with absolute minimal resin, no box preparation and no real care, always in factories that run against some clock and production expectation. Both brands have a higher chance of failing if installed without a pre-scuff up.

Personally all my boards utilize Future plugs. Entire underside of the plug is quickly scuffed with 60grit on the air grinder as they retain a sheen from when they pop out of the mould. Just as in painting a light scuff up makes a world of difference when adherence is needed. Both box and hole are painted in resin with the excess in the reservoir that needs to fully squeeze out of the holes before being wiped off. I used to do the same process with a layer of 4oz under the plug that wrapped up the sides but saw no real benefit in terms of strength. Scuffing the box was the trick. Both brands have significantly more strength when a small amount of milled fiber or Cabosil is mixed into the box resin.

All of the above for both brands goes out the window if you fall off your bike/on the rocks/bottom turn and hit the reef. Production quality is key here, always has been and always will.

Andrew P's picture
Andrew P's picture
Andrew P Wednesday, 14 Sep 2022 at 9:57pm

Brilliant post CC if that was 2 cents worth then us Swillnutters are getting great bang for our buck! Cheers

CupCakes's picture
CupCakes's picture
CupCakes Wednesday, 14 Sep 2022 at 10:34pm

I have been a long time lurker here and enjoy most of the conversations going on so figured it was time to actually open an account and share what I have learnt.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Thursday, 15 Sep 2022 at 6:12am

Excellent insight there CC, thanks and welcome.

Daveharro's picture
Daveharro's picture
Daveharro Friday, 16 Sep 2022 at 11:52pm

Thanks Cupcakes for the coalface experienced story - personally I almost never take the fins out except going up north or indo which is annually or less and understand how levering and pushing down on fragile foam and glass could weaken over time. Still run fcs1 2 XAM (now Arc) on side and old slater Fcs middle smaller fin or futures AM med fins - great raked sides with broad bases, and shorter more vert slats fins in middle. As Mick Manolas used to say “All fins are drag so make them just big enough to control the board’

etarip's picture
etarip's picture
etarip Thursday, 15 Sep 2022 at 5:54am

Some fantastic perspectives and knowledge on this thread.
Question: How do hybrid fin boxes overcome the integral fin cant issues?

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo Thursday, 15 Sep 2022 at 7:47am

Modii have a 4 deg and 8 deg box Side Box

san Guine's picture
san Guine's picture
san Guine Thursday, 15 Sep 2022 at 9:13am

Glassed in for all my twinnies. Although I rarely ride thrusters, never had any problems with the FCS system, haven't had a board with Futures. so a moot point for me

Ray Shirlaw's picture
Ray Shirlaw's picture
Ray Shirlaw Thursday, 15 Sep 2022 at 11:56am

Was there ever a "double blind(?)",peer reviewed study on how much better glass in fins actually surfed, than fcs1? A bit off topic,just asking.

san Guine's picture
san Guine's picture
san Guine Saturday, 17 Sep 2022 at 1:51pm

Don't know about that. It would have to be a qualitative study and therefore subjective.
For example, any testing would need to be in a wave pool to minimise natural wave variability and provide some degree of reproducibility. However just placing your feet a millimetre or 2 away from the boards 'sweet spot' as we all know, can change the drive we get from a board.
For me, big glassed in keels on small boards (5'4") work a treat.

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo Thursday, 15 Sep 2022 at 12:08pm

And Powerbase to Glass ons ......
https://watermans-surf-3.myshopify.com/collections/fins/powerbase-fins
Still available...? ?

SouthCoaster's picture
SouthCoaster's picture
SouthCoaster Thursday, 15 Sep 2022 at 9:13pm

As an avid Futures user this news pleases me and whilst I was shocked to hear this earlier in the week from firewire it sure makes a lot of sense. Having tested both systems out extensively over the years here is my 2 cents.
Futures are vastly superior for the following reasons: As the article states, fin cant (angle the fin is splayed) is built into the fin. This means that shapers designing certain fin templates dictate the cant on their fin for futures increasing its effectiveness. The boxes are way stronger, If you use twins you are crazy to be using FCS because the larger fin area places more pressure on the boxes that results in way more FCS2 plugs being blown out from bottom turns. The variety of materials and foils are also superior in Futures. You have the option of higher flex blackstix with inside foils, balanced honeycomb, stiffer tech flex, solid glass fins and a variety of quad rears. There is no suprise that close to 100% of big wave surfers run Futures boxes as the foils, box and material combination is vastly superior. Nathan Florence is the exception in what I guarantee was a purely financial decision to switch to FCS. Even FCS sponsored athletes use futures boxes in Jaws boards. For the everyday surfer, they can sleep easy knowing their fins wont pop out when bumped, or caught by their leash. Bottom line is Futures are own and run by dedicated surfers, and their downfall has always been their lack of attention to marketing as they focused on their product. It's funny how many surfers continue to run FCS purely because they have a large collection of (inferior) fins from over the years.

On an ethical level FCS has also lost a lot of respect among smaller retailers by placing unrealistic indent targets for discounts and by banning the online sale of their products to all but a few of the larger players. Don't be surprised when they remove the screw holes from FCS2 boxes in the next year or 2. That will be the next play to ensure other brands fins cannot be used. Better to back Futures, owned and run by the biggest legends who actually surf and test the gear. If for no other reason they simply provide a better product. This will have a massive impact on FCS, Firewire might not please everyone, but it is probably the number one global surfboard brand?? Or at least up there with a few others and for the most part, the customers want the board, not the fin so there will be a huge shift in customers to futures with this brand alone. CI will be the next to follow suit.

Nav Fox's picture
Nav Fox's picture
Nav Fox Friday, 16 Sep 2022 at 6:42am

He could have just said Futures are better

philosurphizingkerching's picture
philosurphizingkerching's picture
philosurphizing... Friday, 16 Sep 2022 at 7:24am

Or mentioned the real issue - the weakness of the foam around whatever fin box you use.

Sunova use FCS and it looks as though the 2 high density foam inserts connect through to the underside of the deck giving greater strength.

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo Friday, 16 Sep 2022 at 7:56am

Retaining some Flex by using original FCS single plugs -Thats something for Prof Panhuis to look at.

Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean Friday, 16 Sep 2022 at 10:05am

Funny thing is on my last few material orders.....Futures were having a hard time keeping up with supplier demands.
( re boxes )...

So it might be time to stock pile.

indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming Saturday, 17 Sep 2022 at 10:34am

Some great post here especially from CupCakes and SouthCoaster

I have boards and fins in both systems but prefer Futures if have the choice, for many of the reasons they point out, plus FCS gave me the shits when changed systems and stopped selling old FSC fins which means for old FCS plug boards you are stuck with either buying generic fins or second hand ones.

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo Saturday, 17 Sep 2022 at 11:34am

Trace around old FCS tabs onto FCS2 base - Couple of minutes with a Hacksaw indo ...

groundswell's picture
groundswell's picture
groundswell Saturday, 17 Sep 2022 at 11:55am

I had a few firewires such as mayhem/lost mini driver and a almond butter by Rob Machado, and some other one i cant recall. Only board i liked was the mini driver 6"0" which was real fun in average to 5 foot good waves but once hitting the six foot region in powerful WA swells it tended to slip out on bottom turns. Tried once to surf a 6-8 foot reef and everyone i knew there said "that board is too small for this" "that board looks sketchy in waves like this."
I then got it inserted with a shark repellent device and even in average waves it turned to shit with the device maybe put in the wrong spot on the board..I also started to gain a lot of weight at the same time on new depot fortnightly injections and also too much booze so not sure which factor made the board a dog the most.
In any case none of the current firewires getting produced appeal to me and even the mini driver had semi boxy rails which didnt hold in the pit that well..Was the last board i could properly surf though before my condition ruined my surfing life besides riding a lid sometimes, which somehow i still can...I guess its like riding bike.Loved just chucking the FW boards in the tray of my fourby and no travel cover yet no dings ever showing..Pretty strong boards just dont think any of them suit here in the rail designs/boxyness.
I have two fcs 1's sets and had about ten futures, love futures the most but once ive found a good set for a board rarely pull them out.
As for FCS i remember my first indo trip my next door neighbor surfer snapped his fcs'1 tabs and had no way of drilling out or screwing into the tabs in the sockets in the jungle of bobbys and his board went unridden. That was 97 and still the same design untill fcs'2's. Pretty silly imo.

Poto74's picture
Poto74's picture
Poto74 Saturday, 17 Sep 2022 at 4:42pm

Wanted a board last minute for a trip a few ago and had to accept it in FUTURES. Never looked back. Far superior feel from the tab. Haven’t snapped a fin on a bottom turn since. And no more loosing them randomly after a slight tap on the reef. I do find a few brands I’m interested in have very little FUTURES stock though. Eg JS.

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo Tuesday, 20 Sep 2022 at 3:27pm
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno Wednesday, 21 Sep 2022 at 11:57pm

The old Swivel fin system from the 90's had that feature - geez they were solid things. I still have an install kit, and again it's top shelf equipment...

Ray Shirlaw's picture
Ray Shirlaw's picture
Ray Shirlaw Tuesday, 20 Sep 2022 at 5:24pm

Thats a pretty good idea. How much base flex would actually occur in a surfing situation, 1mm? 3mm? I think a human thighbone would flex more than that during a deep bottom turn

El Cap's picture
El Cap's picture
El Cap Wednesday, 21 Sep 2022 at 9:26am

Great article!

It seems no one is talking about one key point:

What happens when Futures brings out their new fin box?

Endorfins are then wedded to a superfluous system that no manufacturer will be putting in their boards. They won't be able to use Futures' new system because it will be patent protected again. To really be a key player and make money in the fin market you need to have your own proprietary box that is protected by a patent. Developing a novel, high quality system takes big money, a talented team and years of time. The glaring problem for Endorfins is that even if they did all that, they will never get proper market penetration because no major surfboard manufacturer outside of Firewire will ever adopt it because it is made by a competitor.

Surely the executives at Firewire know this which makes the motivation behind this move pretty easy to work out. Fins enjoy a bigger margin than boards and they want a slice. The futures box is the only one they can use without paying a license fee so they've jumped in head first.

eel's picture
eel's picture
eel Wednesday, 21 Sep 2022 at 10:23am

Are Futures bringing out a new fin box? What do you know about it? Screwless?

El Cap's picture
El Cap's picture
El Cap Wednesday, 21 Sep 2022 at 10:36am

Unconfirmed word on the street is that they are sitting on a new system. Screwless and backwards compatible.

You'd have to think that Firewire/Endorfins grab for their customer will speed up the go to market date if the rumors are true.

eel's picture
eel's picture
eel Wednesday, 21 Sep 2022 at 10:44am

Interesting, thanks! I wonder why they are 'sitting on it'? I ride FCS2 mainly because I can't be fucked screwing fins in and out. Would consider going back to Futures if they did like wise. I reckon a bunch of other lazy people might too.

El Cap's picture
El Cap's picture
El Cap Wednesday, 21 Sep 2022 at 10:51am

I would guess it's because their current marketing direction is centered around the screw and the strength it provides. It will be quite a pivot for them to essentially confirm that screwless is better, even though that is perfectly obvious from a convenience point of view.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 Wednesday, 21 Sep 2022 at 10:58am

Taking 60 seconds to tighten 3 or 4 grub screws is more than worth it to me, to have the fin securely attached to the board.

El Cap's picture
El Cap's picture
El Cap Wednesday, 21 Sep 2022 at 11:06am

There are more ways to secure a fin to a board than a grub screw!

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 Wednesday, 21 Sep 2022 at 11:17am

More secure than a clip in.

I surf rocky points, I want a secure connection.

zenagain's picture
zenagain's picture
zenagain Wednesday, 21 Sep 2022 at 10:27am

I'm gonna sound like a total gumby here but I have a mix of boards with FCS1, FCS2 and Futures and to be totally honest, if I get a new board I just buy the one set of fins to suit and leave them in there. I don't really know much about the differences in cant and toe-in or flex, I just adjust my surfing to suit the board.

Works for me, but I'm no pro and never was gonna be.

Btw, been an enjoyable read this thread nonetheless.

eel's picture
eel's picture
eel Wednesday, 21 Sep 2022 at 10:47am

What about when you travel? You need a set plus a back up set for each fin system. 3 surfboards with 3 different fin systems would mean 6 sets of fins. That's a lot.

zenagain's picture
zenagain's picture
zenagain Wednesday, 21 Sep 2022 at 10:52am

Sadly cobber, I don't travel too much to surf. Just leave a couple of boards in the car and a few spare fins. I also have a couple of boards back home too.

I guess when I go on a proper trip I'll have to cross that bridge when I come to it.

wingnut2443's picture
wingnut2443's picture
wingnut2443 Sunday, 25 Sep 2022 at 10:20am

Hey Zen, with those fin systems (FCS1, FCS2, Futures) you have no adjustment over toe-in or fin cant.

Fins make a HUGE difference to the performance of a board. Any board. I encourage you and anyone, everyone, to trial different fins in your 'go to' board. Borrow off mates, buy up cheap sets off gumtree or marketplace.

Without getting too into the nuances of flex, just start with different fin profiles (rake / base / size) and see what you learn. Often best to go to extremes then filter inward to 'feel' the nuances.

I found the FCS1 K2.1 fins were a generally good 'go to' fin for me. a very average Joe regular surfer around Mid North NSW, Northern Rivers NSW and SE Qld ... so general mix of beach break conditions and points.

But.

They DID NOT work in the Cymatic, Hydroshort of Hydronaught (all Tomo designs with planning hull and quad inside double concave design elements). Had to go 'up' to Al Merrick mediums and then all 3 boards came to life.

I've surf same board, caught 3 waves, gone in changed fins, surfed 3 waves ... but going to extremes, like say the Occy fins that JS n co put out, then back to say K2.1, then back to the Parko fins, then to MR twin set, then ... you the idea. Amazing what you learn. Essentially the same waves, but such different feel.

This is the #1 reason why I won't be buying Firewire in the future. My collection of FCS fins is too large and to replicate in Futures is just not in the budget.

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo Sunday, 25 Sep 2022 at 11:23am

Spot on Wingy...Zen play with different Fins...
And Wingnuts Blog is great info
https://www.ffwsurfboards.com.au/fup-fin-options/

Supafreak's picture
Supafreak's picture
Supafreak Wednesday, 21 Sep 2022 at 11:34am

@eel , have you lost any fins ? I went with fcs2 because of convenience and didn’t realise at first that they could come out until reading about blokes losing fins . With the ridiculous price fins are I use 2 grub screws on all my fins . I actually prefer fcs 2 fin designs but believe the futures are a better box .

Montygoesbananas's picture
Montygoesbananas's picture
Montygoesbananas Wednesday, 21 Sep 2022 at 1:35pm

Supa I lost my first FCS2 fin on an indo trip last month. Have been using them 6+ years never screwed in no issues, and also run an old set of FCS1's with the adaptors in other boards. I suspect the fin hit a coral head or the leash went around it a pulled it backwards on a wipe out. Good news though no damage to the fin box - so $64 for a replacement MF side fin, but could easily have been $80+ for a fin box repair which is another consideration in all of this. Other thing to note is that if you have a board that you mix between riding thruster and quad set ups (5 fin set), FCS2 is possibly a better option as it doesn't stiffen up the tail too much (at least according to Chilli for a custom they made for me). I think surfing beach breaks back home I will probably add in a grub screw in the future.

eel's picture
eel's picture
eel Wednesday, 21 Sep 2022 at 5:58pm

No I haven't lost any fins with FCS2. I have had several sets of FCS 2 fins plus a set of copies from ali express. Haven't lost any yet. I have had my boards with FCS2 since about 12months after they first came out (so 5 plus years). That is surfing mainly the northern beaches, several indo trips, a few times to cloudbreak and a trip to the Maldives. Have hit my fins on the reef and sand plenty of times (plenty of fin dings) but never lost any. And I have never used the grub screws.

I actually landed on my fin once and blew the box out but the fin was still secure in the box. Ding repair guy struggled to yank it out.

Ray Shirlaw's picture
Ray Shirlaw's picture
Ray Shirlaw Wednesday, 21 Sep 2022 at 5:00pm

I can see how theoretically 5futures boxes could reduce tail flex,but how much are we actually talking? And,so.... its "good" to have tail flex, but "bad" to have anything but super stiff & rigid fins?

lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy Thursday, 22 Sep 2022 at 8:42pm

I reckon most of my boards (the thrusters and quads) go better with honeycomb core fibre glass fins rather than the stiffer all glass fins.

And I like my singles and twins to be a bit refined on the tip to flex as well.

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo Wednesday, 21 Sep 2022 at 5:31pm

Re 5 Futures boxes most think it is Negligible.

Montygoesbananas's picture
Montygoesbananas's picture
Montygoesbananas Wednesday, 21 Sep 2022 at 9:39pm

Was a comment from the guys at chilli and there is a fair bit more area in a futures box so I can see where they are coming from. Could I tell the difference, probably not, but they shape for some top end guys who probably can so I wont discount it.

No mal half a quiver's picture
No mal half a quiver's picture
No mal half a quiver Sunday, 25 Sep 2022 at 8:14am

If I do a 180 re-entry on a long board and rail grabs or big fin grabs and turns the board upside down as I’m sliding down the face There is a high chance I land on fins some times snapping fin tabs off. Fin is gone but fin box still in place. Why I chose fcs now with future I’d most likely snap fin box out. So of to board repair instead of car park for another fin. Do it enough and
Great way to sell more boards great for the environment.

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet Wednesday, 28 Sep 2022 at 9:17am

This morning I received an EDM from FCS about their new Britt Merrick Twin Fin.

"Made with more than 30 layers of fiberglass with precision foils, Britt Merrick’s new signature twin fin set is the largest in the FCS range, with a template that sits on the border between the twin and keel categories."

While the fibreglass layups sound great, the more profound message is that Channel Islands - one of the world's largest surfboard manufacturers - is sticking with FCS for a while yet.