A moment with the MR
It’s a story that’s been told before in this mag, but it doesn’t get old. Mark Richards returns from Hawaii to Newcastle after the winter of ‘76, ‘77 with a head full of Dick-Brewer-inspired ideas and his heart set on making a board that he can win contests on.
Back In his Newcastle, Mark spends several months working on the new design. Fuelled by competitive ambition, the project takes on an obsessive quality. Mark paints a bedroom wall black so he can hang up his cardboard outlines and stare at them from his bed. After numerous attempts he finally settles on an outline he’s happy with and spends a solid eight hours shaping the board. Taping up the iconic, shooting-star spray takes even longer. The swallow-tail twin (also known as the Free Ride twinny) features fluted flyers, fibreglass fins cut from a skate deck, and sharp rails from nose to tail. The Free Ride twinny model propels MR to four world titles between 1979 and 1981. It also inspires a golden era of twin fin designs as shapers around the world develop their own interpretation of MR’s sleek design.
In honour of Mark Richard’s contribution to twin fin evolution we’d decided it would be fitting to ensure there was an MR on board. MR shaped a 5’8”Supa Twin, specifically for the trip. Far from a replica of his titlewinning board, it’s more like a classic car that’s been fitted with a modern engine. It features a pronounced rocker and a deep, single concave through the tail. The flyers are there but the flutes are not and it arrives with a stabilizer option, just to tempt the no stabiliser policy that’s been enforced on this trip.
Tyler Warren’s been eyeing it off all trip, but has been conscious of ensuring he has enough shots and footage on his own
craft before he starts experimenting with anybody else’s. While his own twinnies also incorporate modern design elements, their core inspiration are the mini-Simmons twins, which feature wide square tails and keel fins set way back.
Eventually Tyler’s curiosity gets the better of him and he grabs the MR twinny for a backside assault on the bowly left. Truth be told he had to kind of wrench it out of my hands because I’d been having so much fun on it. “It should be pretty grippy with that deep, single concave,” suggests Tyler, whose shaping brain ensures every board ridden is subjected to some serious presurf analysis.
On the first few waves it’s clear he’s feeling it out. For a surfer like Tyler who subscribes to the ride everything philosophy (or more accurately ‘ride the right board for the given conditions’), the decoding of a craft is part of the fun. He knows that the body and mind take a wave or two to adapt to different equipment. Many surfers miss out on the benefits of riding a diverse range of equipment because they are too anxious to make a board work straight away, or too readily inclined to try and force it to ride like the one they are accustomed to.
Watching from the boat it’s clear when the board clicks for Tyler and he becomes comfortable with its nuances. Once confident, Tyler suddenly goes from relaxed turns to full-blown backside hangers and buried rail carves; even tucking into a few grab-rail, backside tubes without a second thought.
By the time I paddle out, Gold Coastbased photographer, Simon Williams, is shaking his helmet-capped head in a sign of admiration, as he treads water in the
channel. “Tyler Warren is tearing that MR a new one!” he exclaims in an accent that still gives away his Cornish roots.
After the session, Tyler is flush with the stoke that comes from a good session on a new craft. “It felt like a performance shortboard,” he suggests. “I’m really glad you brought it on the trip.”
Although he may still dabble in the occasional longboard comp, Tyler probably hasn’t pulled on a contest singlet to ride a shortboard since his school surfing days. However, Tyler’s not surfing to satisfy some sort of ‘alternative’ cliché, and will happily explore the possibilities of a board built by a four-times world champion who developed his twinnies with the singular purpose of winning contests.