Dan Mann in the Hotseat.

My name is Dan Mann and I’m going to be in the Hotseat.

I hope answering questions will be easier than to figure out what to type here…

Welcome!  And thanks for joining us, and sharing.  Looking forward to it!

Thanks for sitting in, Dan.

Everyone please vote some points to Dan so we can get over the little minimum points thing. 

All the best

How do we give him some points?

I REALLY want to talk to this guy…

Dann im trying to make my own version of the cornice and im heaps pumped on it.

Wont be as cool as the firewire one but hey thats ok.

at the bottom of his post towards the left is an up and a down triangle. click it.  I think he is up to 7 now.  yes this a pain.  no I can’t fix it.  but I think by this evening enough of us will have given him points to allow him to reply.  and yes, this should be very interesting.

all the best

Dan, looks like I get the first question.  Please talk about what you are riding as your personal go-to board for your home San Diego beach breaks.  ( I will immediately get one, ha, shameless suck up)

And, what keeps it fresh for you as a surfer shaper designer?

all the best

stoked you’re on here dan! from what i read (maybe posted by Greg?) you’re the man behind the sweet potato design. i have a 5’8" and LOVE that thing. it’s my go-to board, so thanks for doing something fat and floaty but responsive for us weekend warrior goons who want a shorter board.

my question. the sweet potato (and possibly other designs of yours?) has a concave deck like a skateboard. i personally think that helps w/ grip and turn/rail engagement, similar to how a skateboard works or how a “gas pedal” on a snowboard binding works. why don’t we see many concave decks in surfing? doesn’t a flat or even domed deck require more toe/heel movement (wasted energy and slower response) to tip the board onto rail? everyone knows bottom shapes alter how a board turns, but why do you think there is so little focus on deck shapes where your feet are actually planted?

thanks so much!

Aloha Dan and welcome

since you’ve definitely been an out of the box designer for some time, can you go over your background and influences as a boardmaker?

be interesting to see how you got your start and how you’ve been able to remain so open minded in such a competitive and generic mass market industry.

allot of guys take cr*p for doing something different and sticking to their guns like GG, Roy, or Jim Richardson at Surflight. 

Meanwhile others become underground heroes like pavel/lis/greenough, mccoy/cheyne, morey

be interested on your take on being free to make what you want versus being accepted by the industry.


Edit: better question

What’re your thoughts on eco or green related construction methods? Better, comparable to traditional or currently inferior? Are or were you involved with the timbertek thing with firewire? I saw a potato model at the shop in timbertek and it looked really nice. 

As a side note, the baked potato looks awesome and the double agent is very interesting looking too. I like the foil on the double agent.


Hi everyone.  Thanks for having me.  

I’m in kind of a weird spot with surfing these days, so to narrow my go to board down to one would be hard for me.  I can say I keep 3 boards in my car all the time.  One is a recent version of the Unibrow I made in Australia.  It has the same outline as the UB but pulled in a bit and significant more rocker in nose and tail.  Its also about 1 1/2" longer than what I’d ride in a UB.  I ride it in surf with punch from waist high to over head.  The second board is another pretty new version of a short wide grovelor in the Potato family.   I love this board and ride it in anything soft up to a little over head.  The third board in there is a new spin on what I just did for Firewire called the Cornice.  The range of surf this design is good for is pretty wide… wider than most categories of boards.  I feel like the whole side cut concept has legs.  All three are vac bagged with different combinations of carbon lay ups.

What keeps it fresh for me is traveling and believe it or not, paddling (prone) downwind.  I can learn a lot by trying out boards and designs on the extreme ends of things.  Like if I can get a 17’ race paddle board to fit and work the way I want it to in swells then I feel like I will be able to get some of its features to work in longboards or guns.  I have a good friend who rides a 3’10" I made him and watching him push it on heavy waves in that extreme end of things keeps it fresh too.

That’s a cool question.  I know a lot of guys have spent a lot of time with deck shape under the feet.  I think the main reason it isn’t more common is because we (surfboard builders) still have many unanswered pieces to the puzzle of why a great board works so much better than another average performing board of a similar design.  So, it may be overlooked simply for the sake of not adding yet another variable. The Potato boards I’ve done have a subtle concave deck.  Here again, I learned from going to the extreme end of a design idea.  I made other shortboards and a few longboards with deep concaves.  In those cases the volume lost by taking out the dome made me put it in the rails or add length or width, to the point the essence of what the original design started out being was lost or changed too much.   Pro surfers solve all these problems by smashing in the decks of their boards under their feet that the board might as well have a concave deck but only right under their feet.

rad! thanks for the answer. makes sense for sure.

Hey, Oneula, thanks for the welcoming.

I started shaping in 1996 by hacking a 12’ board out of 2" x 4" redwood.  I shaped some foam boards right after that and really enjoyed the sculpting aspect of it.  Stu Kenson let me use his room at Diamond Glassing in SD.  I got started there and friends wanted boards even though the shapes didn’t warrant them wanting them.  I had a few shaping rooms after that the best being one my brother in law and I made in an abandoned shed on a Navy base, right on the water.  Around late 2000 I wanted to make Mannkine into more of a business and at the same time I realized to really get to the next level I needed to do the glassing side of a board too.  My wife and I spent all our money on a glass shop in SD called Northwind Glassing.  That lasted for 5 years and I learned a ton about shaping, the board business and obviously glassing.  With the help of my other brother in law we were able to do contract glassing for Merrick and Rusty and a few other heavies.  I did some ghost shaping for about 3 years for Merrick and enjoyed doing work with someone on that level… he wouldn’t say a whole lot but he still had a way to drill ideas into my head.  I sold my business to Firewire in early 2006 and started working for them first as the guy getting them set up for making their boards in the U.S… then luckily that changed to doing mostly shaping and assembling the multi step blanks as well as helping a bit with glassing.  That was a wild time where I learned a lot more about business and boards on a crazy new level.  

During all of this I paddled prone boards.  Before I got into making my own I paddled Eaton boards.  That was unreal because I got to know him and learn from him.  He is a living legend who did some incredible things for surfboards and paddleboards without pounding his chest at all.  He ran an incredibly smart business and retired to the Big Island.  He influenced me big time.  I also am influenced by my crazy friend Michael who planted the seed about making boards fly (like the America’s Cup boats now do on foils).  Even if I can take one small step towards this I’ll be stoked because there won’t ever be a crowd way way out there.  My friend Kish has pushed me into areas of creative design and I have benefited from him being around more than I could say.

As far as being able to remain free to create as well as make a living, I owe a lot of that to the relationship I have with Firewire.  They saw a place for my designs and trusted me at a time when other companies would not have.  Its easy for me to say now, but I believe if you stick to your guns and grind hard and listen to the guys who surf your boards then you can pick and choose the road you’d like.  Staying creative however you can is the key.  Getting out of debt and separating myself from being a consumer (as much as possible) has changed my life because I don’t have to make as much money to support that stuff. I got my life back and I can stay creative.

I hope that answers your question.


What are your thoughts on concave bottoms? Single or double? Which type of boards benefit most from concaves?

I think ‘eco’ boards are critical for us to truly start digging into.  The word ‘eco’ gets diluted by misuse both in and out of the surfboard world.  Right now we all have materials and processes to make boards last significantly longer (with better performance characteristics) than the lifespan of our current boards.  That would be an obvious place to start with the ultimate goal of a board made from what would otherwise become trash.  It seems very possible.  With more and more minds thinking about this now there’s hope.

I didn’t have much of anything to do with TimberTech.  To be honest, I wasn’t into using more wood on surfboards and I thought it wouldn’t work until I rode one.  Now when I ride Firewires I very much prefer the TT because of the performance.  

Thanks, drzoidberg

Sir Dan,

Huck speaks for a number of Swaylocker’s.

Would like to add that

in doing repairs I have fondled a number of Firewires.

can’t fault any, just a study in what the big boys are doing.

No disrespect!

Please address Hucks query.

And through in any thoughts about 

single to double and vice versa.

Thanking you forward.


Concaves are the easiest, most obvious way to make boards go faster by increasing the flow of water through the fins.  I think the wider the board the more benefit a double barrel (from around the mid point) adds to this flow of water.  I think with the really wide grovel boards the really deep double barrel and quad combo almost acts to divide the board in half lengthwise and gives those boards the feeling that they are more narrow than they are.  I also think it’s best to leave the double barrel concave in the concave.  In other words, I think it slows the board down when you split the double barrel with ‘v’.  

Hi Dan - 

On a recent family trip to North Carolina I visited a shop in/near Wilmington (name?) that carried Firewires.  I checked out a few and what caught my eye was the rather extreme tail width on a few models with idiotic ‘potato’ names.  (WTF - they gotta have an idiotic model name these days, right?)

  1.  Who the hell dreamt up those names and what was the marketing strategy behind them?

  2.  Also… assuming the my eyeballing was even close, I’d guesstimate the tail widths to be somewhere between 17"-19" one foot up.  Is that more or less a standard with those designs or were those East Coast specific?


Hi Dan

What’s your thoughts on the future of materials, and construction? Your personal quiver sounds the kind of achievable tech that backyarders are tinkering with.

love your work on the cornice…