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.