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Vuori x Firewire: The Man behind the Mashup

In celebration of the launch of our new Infinity boardshorts collaboration with Rob Machado, we've teamed up with Firewire Surfboards for an epic giveaway to get you ready for Summer and out in the water. 

To help us provide a little more depth into why we are so excited about this collaboration, we were able to catch up with Chris Grow from Firewire Surfboards who works with Rob daily. Chris gave us the full story on the Rob's new Firewire surfboard shape the "Mashup, Firewire's approach to sustainability, and what it's like to collaborate and get creative with a legend like Rob Machado day to day.  

The Board 
We're excited to giveaway a Mashup! What makes the Mashup unique?

The Mashup is unique because it is a ‘mashup’ of Rob Machado and Dan Mann’s surfboard designing minds. 

Dan Mann is a friend of Rob Machado who is also a surfboard designer at Firewire Surfboards, like Rob. 

Dan has previously worked with many top-level professional surfers like Kelly Slater, Betty Lou Sakura Johnson, Brodi Sale and others. Today, Dan and Rob have combined (or ‘mashed up’) their most popular surfboard models to create the Mashup.

Rob and Board

The Legend 
What sets Rob Machado apart from other surfboard designers and athletes that Firewire works with? 
Rob is compelling for all the reasons that every surfer would imagine, but when you break down what makes Rob a mainstay in our culture, it’s definitely unique.  His life as a surfer has been broken down into three acts, roughly a decade each, with some overlap across them; He’s been a competitive surfer (Pipe Master), a free surfer (The Drifter), and a surfboard designer (Firewire Surfboards). 

Most ‘pro surfers’ generally never make it through the first act, let alone the second. Being paid for decades to shoot photos and make films, and then after that to become possibly the most commercially successful surfboard designer in surfing is generally unheard of. 

Rob is talented in every direction. 

Rob and Dan

Image by Todd Glasser

Machado Magic 
Are there things Rob looks for when creating a surfboard that others don't?

Rob is obsessed with what the surf industry calls ‘hybrid shapes.’ 

These are surfboard shapes that have the quality of what we call a ‘groveler’ (a shape designed to work in weak waves that we commonly see every day) and what we call a ‘performance shape’ (a shape designed to work in perfect waves that we fantasize about traveling to). 

There are many surfboard designers who focus on the former, like Dan Mann, and the latter, like Kelly Slater. But, to be so obsessed with the middle ground and to do it so well is uncommon. 

Rob’s Hybrid designs combine the very best of both groveler and performance shapes, into a single board. The kind of perspective that Rob has is uniquely shaped by having been one of the world’s most high-performing performance surfers, who also lives in Southern California where we may have the world’s most average waves. 

Rob and Board

Image by Todd Glasser

A Rhythm and a Beat
Can you describe why you think the Rob X Firewire relationship has been so productive?

Well, Rob is very creative and not particular about marketing or advertising. He likes to be productive and doesn’t like a big fuss around it. 

A lot of what we do with him has resulted from hanging out having Acai bowls in Cardiff and just coming up with random ideas to do on the spot; just whatever sounds fun. Like when we started giving away surfboards to random people at San Elijo one day. We just recorded it, stoking people out. And there it was; “marketing” on video.

For me, Rob’s surfing has always been interesting because it has this musical element to it - it has a rhythm and a beat. As someone who has always looked to him for inspiration, I try to create with him the kind of things I always wanted to see from him and his sponsors through the 90’s and 00’s.

Rob and Chris

Image by Todd Glasser

A Big Smile and a Good Vibe  
What are some of your favorite stories that come to mind when considering the day-to-day life of working with Rob?

He’s shockingly kind to strangers and level headed when he gets approached by them.

One morning he and I were standing in the alley behind his house in his driveway discussing something pretty un-fun and cumbersome, and slowly this minivan creeps around the corner, looking like something fresh off of an Avis or a Budget rental lot. As the van slows and the brakes halt, Rob looks at the van guardedly, maybe with the kind of suspicion or anxiety you’d meet a door-to-door salesperson, and then the window rolls down and through a Japanese accent we hear; “ hello… I came from .. Japan… to meet you……. sorry “. 

This guy in the van had figured out where Rob lived and just showed up there, wanted a photo with him or whatever, and Rob immediately switches it on - big smile, good vibe; ‘What’s up man?” Fully welcomes the guy into the alley behind his house and makes his day, in a way that you or I probably wouldn’t welcome a random stranger showing up at our house. 

Now do I think Rob loves it when this happens; this business of random people showing up in his alley? I doubt it and I don’t recommend it. But does he still turn on the vibe and respectfully give people what they hoped for? Like a superhero, yes. 

Vuori Men's Athletic Shorts
Keeping Surf Sustainable   
What are some ways that Firewire is looking to help climate change?

It starts with a healthy respect for the problem and the negative potential it has to impact us all for generations and acknowledging how small any contributions we make to the solutions really are. 

From a manufacturing perspective, we’re the only global surfboard brand that builds 100 percent of our surfboard production for retail under Sustainable Surf’s ‘ECOBOARD’ standard; a criterion for building surfboards that ensures a roughly 30% reduction in carbon footprint when compared to surfboards built from traditional materials and building methods. Specific to Rob’s boards, the rails of his surfboards are built using Paulownia wood that can be harvested in as little as five years, and once the trees are harvested, they regenerate from their existing root systems. Coincidentally, Rob actually grows Paulownia wood in his yard as well. 

Furthermore we ‘wipe’ our carbon footprint each year through a separate program from Sustainable Surf called ‘Sea Trees’; an initiative to regenerate Kelp Forests, Mangrove habitats, ocean contiguous rain forests, and more. 

Living 'The Rise.The Shine'   
We are inspired by Firewire's story and journey and we're stoked we get to collaborate. What are some of your favorite things about Vuori?

How vibrantly you idealize an active coastal lifestyle in California. 

As surfers we live ‘The Rise. The Shine.’ every day - seeking waves during the morning hours, rising out of bed early to get the best wind and ocean conditions of the day. But Vuori expands on that in important ways - beach runs, stretching, yoga, fitness - all these are activities that support surfers’ ability to surf their best and their longest as they age, so it’s humbling for us to be in association with Vuori, and Rob.  

Our Infinity giveaway with Firewire and Rob Machado ends on 7/20/22. You can follow the Firewire journey as well right here. 

Rob and Board

Image by Todd Glasser

Written by Chris Grow & Kayla Pratson