Mark Richards was born in 1957 and raised in Newcastle, Australia. He began riding a surfboard at age six. His father opened the first surf shop in Newcastle in 1961. He began surfing competition at an early age. He started shaping his own surfboards at the age of 15.
In 1974, Mark surfed in the Smirnoff Pro at Waimea Bay, Hawaii. The surf was 30' high and he was able to make the semi-finals. His first professional win was a year later at the event when he was 17 years old.
In 1976, Hawaiian surfer Reno Abellira came to Australia with a short blunt-nosed twin fin from San Diego called a fish. This board performed on small, fast waves in a way never seen before in Australia. In 1977, Richards spent two months learning shaping techniques under the watchful eye of master shaper, Dick Brewer. During this period, Mark Richards modified the fish into a wide, longer square-tailed twin-finned surfboard.
After being the first person to win four consecutive world championships from 1979 to 1982, the Mark Richard-type twin fin became popular worldwide.
At 6' tall, Richards had a surfing style that was quite unique, with long, fully extended arms and knees braced together while doing the sharpest turns seen in competition. He was nick-named the “wounded gull.”
Richards retired from competition surf in 1992 but his twin fin-designed surfboard was but another change in the way we surf today.