I was never into either but have changed my mind on firewires. For years I rode only boards I shaped myself. They were all funky alternative shapes and rode well in certain conditions. I had tried a few locally made boards and they were fun for what they were but not great. A few years ago I got into Bings and still own and ride 3 of them. Back when I was riding my own boards a friend went out and bought a firewire dominator and I was horrified. When I saw the shape it looked so boring, just a rounded full volume shortboard. He started riding it in everything from knee high up to well over head and I was shocked at how well it went in all those conditions. One day I paddled out with a new board I had just made and was having a hard time getting it wired. Sensing my frustration my friend unhooked his dominator and pushed it over to me. With a lot of doubt I accepted and rode a few waves and was shocked at how well the board paddled how light and responsive it was and most of all how friggin fast it was. I reluctantly gave it back but ever since have thought about getting one.
This winter was a tough one for me because when the swell was here it was on the bigger side with tons of wind. My small boards weren't cutting it and I needed something longer with more foam to help me out. Now I know I could have gone with a local custom but I absolutely loved the dominator and had been spending time on the firewire site reading about the different boards. I decided on a spitfire and have since taken it out twice. Although I can't speak to its longevity it is a great board and fits exactly what I was hoping based on its description on the firewire site. I'm not saying that local customs don't have their place and I still have my eye on a local shaper that makes beautifull boards. Its the ease of buying, the ease of choosing the right board with the proper displacement and the predictability that makes it hard to discount these boards even if they are made overseas by unskilled labor.
I totally agree that in a perfect world everything an american buys should be made in America. But are you sure that nothing you own was made overseas? Do you own a rake, a hedge clipper, a hose, a hammer, a cordless drill? Chances are they were made somewhere else. There will always be a demand for a work of art such as a perfectly had shaped surfboard with stunning resin work. But for me I have always seen a surfboard as a tool and use it as a tool. I have no Problem buying a tool from an overseas manufacturer especially if it is made by a machine and I can get the same thing made ten years from now if I have the specs. When I'm in the market for a work of art like a hand shaped surfboard I will stay local but even in my own experience I have never seen 2 handmade surfboards made exactly the same no matter how desperately I wanted them to be.
I have a CI,a Firewire and several made by some local guys.I have only had the Fw for a little while but keep pulling it out when its time to make a choice. Will see how it holds up over time...but for now I really like it.