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(Photo: Merkel)

The Free Ride Generation: MR & That Sunset Beach Bottom Turn

An excerpt from the 'Free Ride Generation' feature inside our new mag.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Issue 593 is on stands now, available to purchase online or click here to subscribe and read all of Tracks premium content!

In Issue 593; Mark Richards, Rabbit Bartholomew, Shaun Tomson and Peter Townend reflect on their halcyon, North Shore days. In response to the timeless photography of Dan Merkel, Steve Wilkings and Jeff Divine, the surfers riff on some of the moments that immortalized them. The imagery drips with colour-saturated mystique while the insights capture the fear, fun and tube-framed glory that defined the time.  Read it and get pumped to go see one of our screenings of Free Ride (purchase tickets here). Below is an excerpt from the Free Ride Feature with Mark Richards sharing his thoughts on Dan Merkel’s photo of him at Sunset in 77′ (image above).

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MR, Sunset. Photo: Merkel

“A Dan Merkel photo taken at Sunset Beach in 1977.

Dan shot from an inflatable surf mat and was shooting either from the water or on the beach every day from dawn to dusk. He worked incredibly hard to get good shots.

The board I’m riding is a Lightning Bolt shaped by Reno Abellira. It was a wing pin single fin, 8’0” long, 19” wide and 3” thick. Subtle Vee bottom with Concave fluted channels in the wings. Magenta tint bottom with Orange and Yellow bolts. Yellow tint deck with Red and Black bolts. I only rode this particular board at either Sunset or Pipeline.

I had another Reno in identical colours which was 7’8” long.

I’d met Reno during the 1974 2SM Coca Cola Surf about event in Sydney. He was staying with Terry Fitzgerald and would arrive at the beach in Terry’s Kombi with a quiver of boards to choose from. I was totally impressed and in awe of Reno. I wrote to him a couple of months prior to going to Hawaii in 1976 asking him to make me two boards – an 8’0 and a 7’8”– requesting them to be 20 1/4” wide as that was the width of my everyday 6’8” in Newcastle.

The rest of the shapes I left completely to him; colours were my choice. I can’t remember, but I’m sure I was more interested in the colours than the shape. When I collected them from Reno he didn’t explain why he had ignored my width request and made them around 19” wide. I was in such awe of him that I found it difficult to ask and he was also a man of very few words. I just handed over the money and he handed me the boards.I’ve met a lot of famous people in my life and Reno is the only person where my hero worship rendered me virtually speechless. He let me watch him shape a Sunset Beach gun one arvo which took him about three hours. I don’t remember him saying more than two words to me during that time,“Hello and Goodbye”! The shorts were my second pair of Quiksilver scallop legs. One new pair each year.”- MR

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Issue 593 is on stands now, available to purchase online or click here to read the full feature by subscribing to Tracks premium!

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