Inspirations – Mark Richards
Bondi Wear clothing is inspired by the beach, by the water and the sand, salty air and summer time heat, but it’s also heavily influenced by the people we hope to see walking around in Bondi Wear clothing and embodying the lifestyle it accommodates. That lifestyle is decidedly a surfing one, so we’ve chosen to honour the champion surfers who pioneered this way of life here in Australia, and have helped shape the international reputation Australian surfers now enjoy.
The first person who fits that bill has to be legendary New Castle champion Mark Richards. Richards was also given to honours by Surfing Australia in February 2013, and was formally recognised as the most influential surfer in Australian history at the organisation’s 50th Anniversary dinner.
Richards, born in 1957 and still considered a local Novocastrian along with his wife and children, became a pro-surfer as the sport was still being invented. In fact, it is said that he used to prefer surfing at home in Mereweather before Hawaii called his name and he started to travel and compete. We’re all glad he did though, and four World Championship titles are the legacy of a surfer who continues to leave his mark on the surfing world, even as he continues to win accolades and recognition for the way he shapes boards since he no longer competes.
The 1977 documentary ‘Free Ride’ was an inspiration to Richards and others of his ilk, and that time period was described as the birth of modern, high performance shortboard surfing. Richards had previously burst onto the scent in the North Shore in 1975. By 1979 he dominated the scene, and for four consecutive years he won in every type of surf.
The next highlight came as Richards had his swansong on the world stage in the Billabong World Pro tour in 1985, where he schooled some of the ‘new guard’ surfers and performed excellently by all accounts. Between then and 2000 things were relatively quiet, but by late 2000 Richards was becoming involved in fin shaping and sending his designs to be computer cut in the U.S. In 2001, Richards returned to take out the World Masters Championships over 40 division in Ireland, meaning that Kelly Slater is the only living person with more titles to their name.
Richards has since received an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) and remains a hometown hero in New Castle, where the Surf-Fest is sometimes called the Mark Richards Pro. These days he enjoys spending time in the shaping room, and with his wife and three children. He also works to raise awareness about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) since he and his wife tragically lost a child to due to SIDS. He is also an ambassador for Quiksilver, and swims to help keep nagging back problems in check.
In October 2013, Richards’ career took on a whole new direction, and he again made headlines for his famous interview with rock legends Pearl Jam. Richards was given exclusive access to the band prior to the release of its latest album.