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  • Re-animation: the Dominator journey

    This was originally posted in the old forums. Chris asked me to copy and re-post and obligingly I'm now doing just that!

    I've posted a few comments here and there about my experiences with a new Dom from the perspective of a heavier (90kg) slightly older (46) surfer. Now having reached a point where I'm getting a lot more comfortable with the board I thought I'd put them in the one place, for the benefit of others in a similar position.

    Firstly is the issue that seems to concern most people which is size/volume. Now bear in mind I first learnt to surf in the late 70's and early eighties and I never really liked the move to narrower, thinner, chip boards. So I prefer more volume to some others on this site, but if you do some searching you'll also see a lot of strong surfers of a similar vintage to me like pretty similar volume at much the same weight. I went 6'4" and as a small wave board (which is its intended use) that's fine. I could have used a 6'2" but that would have limited its useability in smaller surf. I don't think I could go the 6'6" - that'd just be too big. So I reckon 6'2" to 6'4" is good for someone of my vintage with my preferences at my weight.

    I've surfed the board in all around 10 times now, pretty much exclusively in small beach break conditions in the Sydney, Australia area. My only prior experience of Firewire is an Alternator (6'8") which I pretty much loved from the first surf, and fitted my surfing style well. Sure, I could possibly have used 2 inches less (I was just returning to surfing after 2 years out of the water with illness) but really it was close to right, right from the start. There was no adaptation at all. Not so with the Dom. Don't get me wrong, I could surf it. It just took me longer to adapt.

    So as I say I've surfed it around 10 times now in small Sydney surf. Up to head high but mostly in the knee to chest range. At the start I found the board entered waves well, and I was getting some drive, but less than I was used to on my other small wave board. I put that down to the really soft waves I was surfing it in and it being the first surf. However, the more I surfed it the more I found it difficult to generate drive for myself when the wave didn't provide it. I made some comments on this site and some suggestions were made to look at my fins. I'd been using some M7's in basic fibreglass construction. I've basically used the 7's and 8's as my fins for quite a while now and really had no concerns. However, I took on board the comments and bought some PC7's. To my surprise the fins did aide in adding drive to the board.

    I've also now had occasion to surf the board in really quite small waves, but running into a rip, offering nice bowly waves. This also changed the way I approached the board. Suddenly the wave had enough guts to allow me to drive the board, weighting my turns, driving off the fins and rail and relying on the rebound. My head space was transformed. This was a good board.

    With the new fins and my head space again more positive toward the board I now find I'm just surfing a tad differently on the Dom in all conditions. I'm more aggressive, in the sense I'm now more active from turn to turn. That greater activity leads to more drive and speed. Much as I hate hops I've also found that the odd well placed hop over a dead section will generate its own drive, and link you up with the next power pocket. I theorise that the added flex of a firewire just enables those ugly hops to generate more drive than on a normal board.

    I'm now unequivocally a happy Dom camper. Sure, maybe I'd like a square tail from time to time to generate more drive, but by and large this is the best small wave board I have owned in many a year. In my mind's eye I maybe rate my first McCoy Zap from maybe 1981 better, but that is rated as against its peers, not as an absolute comparison. Now that I'm surfing it more I can see why people might want to go with less volume if they are to use this board as their all round board, but that isn't my intended use. I have a shortboard for good days and much as I like the Dom I'm happy to use the Alt when it gets around head high. The Dom for me is a small to average wave champion.

  • #2
    good call buzzy. Thanks for posting that!

    Cheers

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    • #3
      I thought I'd just add to this, but more in context of the overlap between the Dom and Alternator.

      As time has passed the Dom had unequivocally become my "go to" board. If it was very small and gutless I used another board but the Dom was pulled out maybe 70% of the time. I've surfed my Alternator maybe 3 times in 4 months. It typically came out when the surf was well overhead.

      I took out the Alt this morning in head high to a bit above head high surf. A mix of mush and nice walls. Mid range wave power at around 10 second period. Man, I'd forgotten how good this board is. It's sharper than the Dom. I felt like I could jam a turn more. It felt faster in these conditions, but that would have to be my imagination. It was quicker and more dynamic off the top, foam climbed well and drove great cutbacks. I loved it.

      There really is s reasonable cross over between the Dom's and the Alt's performance range. As long as the wave has some power to it they'd cross over from chest high to around 1.5x overhead. Head high and above though is really the Alt strong suit.

      I had been thinking of getting a Hellfire for between the Dom and Alt but after today's surf that's on the back burner for a while.

      Incidentally I surfed at best average today so this wasn't about a good day in the office so to speak. Just a revelation/reminder about the quality of the Alt

      Comment


      • #4
        yeah its funny how cyclical our approach to boards actually is. I have found myself doing the same thing. I went with less volume and away from the dominator, rode the Subscorcher and thought I liked it. Then I went back to my Dom and Alt and realized how much I like both of those boards and that my Sub volume was a little low.

        The point is, in this hybrid age, we get to experiment with super fun shapes, but sometimes we go away from the the traditional ones that we ultimately forget that we loved.

        I do think there are unexpected times where you don't need a hybrid to have fun and it sounds like you just had one on your alt. that is good stuff!

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        • #5
          I agree Chris, I am now wanting to try the Stretch fins again since you like them so much.

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          • #6
            Now an update on the update! First, i now use GAM PC thrusters pretty much exclusively in the Dom. I've seen some comments here and there to the effect the Dom gets hung up on top turns and can't jam a turn. The more I surf the Dom the more I realise that by and large the board responds best to rounded arcs. I dont mean necessarily long arcs- just round ones. It can jam a turn but I'd imagine other boards could do that better. This arc based surfing works for me. My snow skiing experience of the past couple of decades has me really appreciating properly carved turns on snow or on waves. So it works for the sort of surfing I want to do. There's definitely no hanging up on top turns though!

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            • #7
              That has reminded me of a few recent Dom top turns now embedded in my brain! There was a good low the other day sitting in the bay of biscay. It chundered out surf for days but towards the end inevitably dropped off. Was still keen to go and was checking MSW when noticed there was what looked like last minute a pulse set to hit early evening allowing for a 2 hour surf before dark. Checked the webcam and the local surf reports and it looked about 2ft so i packed my Dom and headed down. By the the time i got to the surf (20min run through dunes) i found it was absolutley cranking and that i should be be on my Hellfire! It was too late though. Paddled out and the waves were packing a very nice punch and it was pumping a solid 4ft (well i call it 4ft nearly double overhead). caught a few and had some hairy drops but overall the board went ok. Def would have been easier on the HF but the Dom did me proud. The drops were so big and fast I had too really draw out the intital drop in order to get the fins to stick on the bottom turn, i could then put some sort of cutty together and work my way down the line and jam in some off the tops. It was these off the tops that got me so amped about the board again. I could go top to bottom and hit the lip really hard getting nice release and make it to the bottom again with no problems ready for the next turn. In my expereince the Dom is killer for swooping arcs but also does well in powerful waves when you wanna take it to the lip. Love it!!!

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              • #8
                I surfed down here on what was probably the same evening. That swell came up out of no where, wasn't expecting that size at all. Got a bit of an ass kicking.

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                • #9
                  Prj yeah i bet it was even sizier down your way!! Proper unexpected MEATY swell eh?!!!

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                  • #10
                    yeah it was real SW, didn't expect it. Lev was pumping but pretty bumpy i hear.

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                    • #11
                      I jumped on my dominator for the first time in a while the other day and I tried a new SF4 (Stretch) quad set in it with a stabiliser in knee high waves. The dom I reckon grovels a tad better than the spit because of the thicker tail not sinking in so much when you turn it. The SF4s feel almost the same as the Rusty R2 quads.

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                      • #12
                        Indeed the thicker tail will provide better surf in lesser conditions. I loved to surf this board as quad

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                        • #13
                          Ok, I finally surfed the Dom today with a 4 fin set up which seemed to work for me. I'd used Indo Fin controllers in the past, but they never really did it for me. I used PC7's with the QPX trailers in 1-2 foot surf at Maroubra today and it was a revelation in a number of ways. Mostly I was surfing lefts, with the smaller ones fat and crumbly and the bigger ones hollow and breaking into a rip. I also surfed a couple of rights.

                          So, first few waves were of the takeoff, bottom turn, crouch and point variety in that you were pulling into or contemplating a small, fast breaking tube. After that section you could pull off a couple of turns. In a quad set up it felt faster in a straight line than as a thruster, and looser. So far I was fairly impressed. First right though was something different. It was looking to be a close out so dropped to the bottom to point it vertically at the lip to have the board completely spin out. The next right I just banked for speed and it seemed to go a tad quicker than a thruster set up would.

                          My first take away was that in softer waves the quad is probably a better set up; ie small soft waves. In bigger waves or more powerful waves the thruster probably still works best. Also, I think you need to surf the Dom thinner as a quad. I'm not sure why, but that's my gut instinct.

                          My developing view on the Dom is that I'd probably marginally prefer the 6'2" in average conditions, but that it wouldn't perform as well in marginal conditions. So overall it's right, but if I was coupling it with a SP I'd go a 6'2".

                          What I do think though is the quad set up extends the range of this board into the absolute tiniest surf.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by buzzy View Post
                            ...

                            My first take away was that in softer waves the quad is probably a better set up; ie small soft waves. In bigger waves or more powerful waves the thruster probably still works best. Also, I think you need to surf the Dom thinner as a quad. I'm not sure why, but that's my gut instinct.

                            My developing view on the Dom is that I'd probably marginally prefer the 6'2" in average conditions, but that it wouldn't perform as well in marginal conditions. So overall it's right, but if I was coupling it with a SP I'd go a 6'2".

                            What I do think though is the quad set up extends the range of this board into the absolute tiniest surf.
                            Yep always reckoned the dom and the spit grovel very well in small stuff (probably because I ride them as quads). The spit does not spin out like the dom does, it's that thick tail and the rails combined with the extra speed as a quad I think. Anyway the spit is better in that regard.

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                            • #15
                              good stuff here. i too still reach for my dom all the time. definitely a speed demon with quads, though i normally prefer thrusters.

                              Cheers

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