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Shaper Interview Series - Mark Richards talks shaping, his 4 world titles, and Slater

Mark Richard's inteview at the International Surfboard Exhibition\

Surf News - - Mark Richards became the first and only man to claim four professional world championship titles in consecutive years, along with countless other surfing victories and accolades. He has also been awarded an honorary degree from the University of Newcastle. 

In 2012 he was the slected 'honored shaper' at recent The Boardroom International Surfboard Exibition. This show held annually in Del Mar California specifically showcases all aspects of the surfboard industry, from blanks to material suppliers, and a diverse range of boards from traditional to modern and futuristic.

A major part of the show is that each year they choose to honor a shaper.  Six contemporary shapers are selected by the organizer of the show, with input from the honoree, and given the task of recreating a nominated surfboard model in a “shape-off “. As the shaper to be honored, 'MR' chose a classic twin fin from 1981, and the shapers in the shape-off were Taz Yassine, Reno Abellira, Pat Rawson, Wayne Rich, Jon Pyzel, and Ricky Carroll.

-(Check out the full interview in this video)-

Known to friends and fans as “MR”, Mark Richards was born in Newcastle on the 7th March 1957 and spent much of his childhood catching waves at Merewether Beach. By the age of six he had already mastered a surfboard and won his first trophy in the Newcastle “Under 14 years” school competition. By 15 years, Mark had placed and won at several school-based and national surfing championships and was also beginning to shape his own twin-fin boards to suit his loose, angular surfing style.

Throughout his junior surfing career, he received enormous support from his family and friends, and in 1961 his father transformed his used car dealership into a surf shop, becoming one of the first places in Australia to sell surfboards outside Sydney. Four decades on, Mark has continued the Richards Surf Shop on Hunter Street and now exports about 250 handcrafted surfboards a year to countries throughout the world. He has remained true to his craft and shapes all the boards himself.

The rise of Mark as a world-class surfer paralleled the rise of professional surfing as an international sport. At 18 he came on to the surfing scene with a splash, winning the Smirnoff Pro-am at Waimea Bay and the World Cup at Sunset Beach in Hawaii. In 1979, Mark won his first world title and soon dominated the pro-surfing circuit, winning again in each of the next three years.

His efforts also led to him being recognised three times as Surfer of the Year by US “Surfing” magazine and also twice nominated as ABC Sportsman of the Year. Suffering a back and ankle injury, in addition to mental and physical fatigue, Mark relaxed into semi-retirement but by 25 years of age had achieved legendary status in the surfing and sporting worlds. He later came out of retirement to win the Billabong Pro twice and the World Masters Championship Over 40 Division in 2001.

Throughout his career, Mark became known as the “Wounded Gull” in recognition of his peculiar surfing style: knees braced, hunched shoulders, arms extended and hands bent up at the wrists. Despite this seemingly awkward stance, he was smooth, balanced and flexible through the water and this matched his temperament which Nick Carroll described in a tribute: “at every turn in his life he’s shown us a gracious, humble character, competitive without spite, winning without greed, losing without bitterness.”

Mark continues his involvement in surfing as a volunteer coach and mentor but also through the Mark Richards Pro which has become the main event for Newcastle’s each year. 

www.markrichardssurfboards.com

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