Me, Myself and Surfing: Mark Price

Words by Mat Arney, images by Alan van Gysen, Steve Lippmann, Mat Arney & film by KauffmanID8Nation



firewire ceo mark price throwing an arc of spray mid way through a cut back

Mark Price is a high performer, at both work and play; as a surfer it is still clear to see how he found himself ranked number 17 in the world in the early eighties, whilst in the surf industry he already had a strong track record before becoming one of the original partners in Firewire Surfboards.  Hailing originally from Durban, South Africa (which explains his devastating ability to take apart right handers), Price was a successful competitive surfer at home in South Africa and internationally before he moved to California to work at Gotcha, where he eventually became the vice president of marketing.  He went on to run his own label, Tavarua, before taking executive positions at Rip Curl USA and Reef.  In 2006 he was approached by some Australian friends about getting involved with the fledgling Firewire; he accepted their offer and after an initial role as President of Firewire US, in 2007 he became Firewire’s CEO, a role that he still holds today.  We caught up with Mark to ask him our set of Me, Myself and Surfing questions and find out a little more about the impact that surfing has had and continues to have on his life.

Name:                  Mark Price

Current Age:     54

Location:            Carlsbad, California

Occupation:       CEO, Firewire surfboards

black and white portrait of mark price the ceo of firewire surfboards
  • My earliest memory of surfing…  Although a natural footer, on my very first wave I caught a left and I rode it to the beach. It then took 2 months to come close to replicating that but at least I was totally hooked from day one.
  • Surfing to me is… almost everything.
  • Home is… anywhere near an ocean with waves, although I could happily live in Solana Beach California (13 years and counting) for the rest of my days.
  • My first overseas surf trip was to… Hawaii and California.
  • I still want to travel to… that right-hander in Mozambique.
firewire ceo mark price carving at supertubes in jeffreys bay south africa
  • I wish that I could… be more patient in general, and strike a better balance between living in the moment while also thinking about the future. But hey, don’t we all?
  • I’d love to share a few waves with…(alive or dead)… the original Durban Bay of Plenty crew, circa 1978.
  • My magic board/piece of equipment is/was a… a 503 Tomo Vader.
  • Wetsuits are… essential.
  • Localism is… justified in moderation.
firewire ceo mark price getting barrelled on a big right hand wave, photographed by allan van gysen
  • Before I get in the sea I always… have to stretch at my age!
  • My most memorable session was… J-Bay in August 2014 with a bunch of friends that I grew up with, some of whom I had not seen for 35 years!
  • The last time I scared myself surfing… about 8 years ago, Surfing Salsipuedes In Baja on my own, and then climbing up the wrong cliff trail. I ended up throwing one board back down the cliff to free up an arm, and clinging to vegetation trying to make it to the top. Fortunately I eventually did and I left my other board at the bottom of the cliff because I was too freaked out to go back down.
  • My favorite surf movie is… Cosmic Children – my first.
  • My guilty pleasure is… there are too many, and I’ve been advised not to incriminate myself.
mark price turning off the top on a small summer wave at malibu, photographed by steve lippmann
  • If I didn’t surf then I’d probably… have become an electrical engineer. After wanting to become one for years, I was registering at university and suddenly realized that I’d never get to surf with the heavy course load.  I switched that day to a Bachelor of Commerce degree and then went home to try and explain it to my dad – which did not go well as you can imagine. However, all’s well that ends well.
  • My greatest fear is… fear itself (sorry to plagiarize that, but its so true!)
  • I’m happiest when… there are at least some waves.
  • I check the surf forecast… a couple times a day.
  • I ‘day’ dream about… almost everything. My thoughts are a collage of past and present events and future potential. I know this sounds self serving, but a lot of my time is taken up with dreams about what the future of wave riding could look like, and how Firewire can help shape that. I see the company as a vehicle that will help transport us into the future of surfboards and surfing. And in our very, very small way, without getting on a pedestal, hopefully influence the market to move towards less toxic surfboards while maintaining, or even exceeding current performance levels.
firewire ceo mark price off the top on a tomo vader surfboard, photographed at jeffreys bay by allan van gysen
  • If I could travel back in time I’d set the dial to… today. After a fair number of detours en route (I think its called life), I’m right where I want to be personally, professionally and with an undying passion for surfing.
  • In the future… sorry for being a downer, but there will not be any future unless we get our act together on climate change, stop striving for compounded economic growth every year without any regard for the limits on our natural resources, and start treating the world as the fully integrated, holistic, incredible support system that it truly is.
  • When I get barreled I… don’t relax enough and feel the flow of the wave….but I’m working on it.
  • Surf culture… a respect for the ocean and the love of riding waves. All the other so-called ‘attributes’ are transitory.
  • The ocean is… where we came from, our original home. And a source of great spiritual nourishment for me.

Mark Price discussing the parallels between surfing and entrepreneurship, featuring the surfing of Mark, Daniel “Tomo” Thomson and Chuy Reyna.

 


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