Behind the Brand: Mark Richards started his own surfboard label in Newcastle, Australia, back in 1975. At the time, the up-and-coming Australian pro was already a force to be reckoned with on the world scene, most notably as a central character in the Free Ride generation that was making a huge cultural impact. His global travels translated into a list of shaping influences that was widespread, including Geoff McCoy, Ben Aipa, Gerry Lopez, Tom Parrish, Jim Richardson, Reno Abellira, Pat Rawson, and Dick Brewer. Three years after starting his own label, Richards revolutionized high-performance surfing by reintroducing the twin-fin design. The following year, in 1979, his utter domination began as he redefined high-performance surfing by riding the new equipment on the fledgling world tour. He would win four world titles in a row riding his updated twin-fin design, which enjoyed widespread acceptance by the early '80s.
About his Most Popular Models: Today, his most popular models are the Retro '80s Twin-Fin, which made him famous, and his modern-day Super Twin. Both boards are designed for surf in the 1- to 6-foot range, and will work in any type of wave. "The modern Super Twin comes with a stabilizer fin in the tail, which increases its drive as the surf gets bigger." Though accomplished stars from all over the world come knocking on his door, at the end of the day, Richards continues to be his own best source of feedback when it comes to design.
Taking the Pulse:"We're in an era of experimentation with surfboard construction and design. Customers are open to try new materials, and we will see more of the ‘user-friendly' fish-style boards and less of standard narrow thruster models."Shop Talk
What's the most important aspect of the surfboard—the one the customer should be most concerned with? "Volume…because too many fun recreational surfers have been sold narrow, thin thrusters by shapers who are too stupid to figure out that a fun surfer can't ride a pro's board."
What's the most exciting aspect of surfboard design right now? "I think it's the experimentation that is occurring with building surfboards out of new materials. It is creating some exciting possibilities in terms of performance and durability."
What's the most dramatic refinement or shift in design going to be in 2009? "It's going to be more width and thickness across the broader spectrum of board models. Through good design you can make a wider, thicker board that is responsive, and the reality of life is most people do most of their surfing in ‘shit' surf!"
What makes your brand unique? "Too many shapers are obsessed with what is going on in the Pro Tour, which bears little relationship to what is happening for the recreational surfer. I have a really good understanding of what the recreational surfer needs in a board, and have designed and shaped a series of models that are easy to ride and make going surfing fun."