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MR : twin fins, 1978 

mark richards : get the real thing

MY ENCOUNTERS began with the first appearance of the twin fin (Circa 1970).
As we all know, the early ones were very short, stubby and thick, especially in the tail, with fins foiled both sides. (See image and link, right).
I surfed them through the changes four to five years, my last one being a 6'8" swallow tail.
Somewhere around that time, the progression was lost.
They seemed to have reached a limit where no one was capable of taking it any further.
At that time, I wasn't shaping, so I didn't pursue it, mainly because I wasn't happy with the way they were working.
The idea of reverting back to a twin fin came from watching Reno surf his 5'7" twin in a two-foot mushburger at the '76 2SM Coke Contest.
At this time, I weighed 17! pounds, but couldn't find a single fin with enough tail area to keep me afloat in small waves.
I was thinking at the time that there was no snap to them, and then I saw Reno riding in front of me, doing what I wanted to do in six-inch small waves.
I was so impressed with his surfing on that board that I wanted one, and asked him to suggest some measurements for me, which he did.
I made a 5'1 0 swallow tail winger with wings.
This board worked unreal in surf under four feet. It had a full rail nose and very parallel rails.

Mark Richards' first Twin fin II, based on Reno Abelira's Fish, Coke Contest 1976
Photograph: Andrew Canning

I surfed that board all winter of '76, running into the winter in Hawaii 76-77, during which time I spoke to Dick Brewer about a twin fin.
I wanted one a little longer and narrower than my 5'10.
Brewer and I decided on 6'2.
They were both swallow tail wingers that were proportionately more like a surfboard than my 5'10.
I surfed that board in the '76 2SM Coke Contest.
It was my small-wave surfboard for the remainder of that year.

In August '77, I flashed that if a 6'2 worked unreal in little waves, a 6'4, 6'6 with narrower dimensions would be a waste.
I took the 6'4 to Hawaii. For the first two weeks of October in the Islands, I surfed nonstop at Chuns, and my first session at Sunset was on it.
It ended up as my Off The Wall board for the remainder of the winter.
That board created a lot of attention in the Islands.
By January, the Town arid Country guys were making it; Larry Bertleman started making them and landed in Australia with three.
They were totally different boards, but basically the concepts were the same.

Mark Richards and  6ft 4'' Twin
Off The Wall, 1977.
Photograph : Lance Trout
Surfing  Magazine February 1980.
Volume 16 Number 2, page 90.

Twins are the ultimate small-wave board.
They're so fast, loose and maneuverable that you can create your own energy even on the smallest waves.
The amazing thing I've found is that although mine are designed for small, sloppy waves, I've been surfing them in bigger waves, and they're working.
It's almost frightening because a 6'4, 22 1/2" wide twin fin should not surf 6' to 8' waves, but they do.

I have templates from 5'5" through 6'6"; 5'5" for the small kids, 5'10 for the average size person, and 6'6" for the big-wave version.
I have five completely separate templates; I don't stretch or shorten one template.

From the reports I've heard from the Islands, the twin fin disease is in epidemic proportions.
In Australia, every man and his dog is making1hem.
Some really crude copies of mine are around, so if you buy one, make sure you get one shaped by Tony Gersf (sic, Cerff) from Byron Bay.
He's the best shaper in Australia at the moment, and does all of my boards.
If you are in South Africa, you can get one from Shaun Tomson Surfboards.
Shaun has all my templates, plus the knowledge and experience to do it properly.
Don't get a backyard job or a copy.
Get the real thing.
If you don't live in Australia or South Africa, buy one from a reputable manufacturer or shaper who first understands the concepts behind it.
It's not as simple as making the board wider and putting a fin on each corner.

Performance-wise, they're amazing, but still they teach you to use your rails really well.
Just bottom turn and contact radically on your edges.'ve got to lift that area, sink a rail.
You can't turn flat.
On a single fin, you can take it and turn flat without turning your edge at all.
It's going to be an interesting winter in the Islands to see just what size waves these boards are capable of handling.
I'm going to make mine for Sunset, and I know Bertleman is too, so we'll either be ripping it apart or getting eaten alive.
I hope it's not the latter!

#43p MR's Apia/Brewer Stingers,
          circa 1976#40p MR
          Twin fins, circa 1978
Photograph by Peter Boskovic
Printed in The Australian Surfers Journal Vol 1 #  3 Winter 1998 page 44
Note : Original Apia Surfboards 'Flame' Stinger,  Twin fins  with various decals.
All boards much photographed.

Part One of a 7 part Article entitled ...
The Attack is Back! : A Resurgence of Interest in Twin fins As Told by..
Mark Richards, Larry Bertlemann, Reno Abellira, Dave Ahrens,
Tom Parrish, Ben Apia and Greg Jensen.
Surfer Volume 19 Number 4, November 1978, pages 64 to 71.
The selected images are not from the original article.
home catalogue history references appendix

Geoff Cater (2008) : MR: Twin-fins, 1978.