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Customer Testimonials

The list below includes testimonials since 1996 from loyal customers from the purchase of balsa wood, blanks, surfboards, clocks, versa traction, paint on grip, fin boxes, fins, DIY kit and all the environmentally friendly products that Riley produces and sends all around the world.

The balsa blank arrived in perfect condition in Hawaii, thanks for the beautiful stick, I'll send some pictures too when the board is finished. Taylor


Hi Mark,

The balsa arrived 10am today, to my garage door in New Zealand.  brilliant.

 600mm lengths is the way to go.

Thanks for the quick service.  Enjoy dealing with you.




Hey Mark

Thanks again, I'm wrapped with the board and the experience.

I'll contact you soon to organise another session for when it suits you.

I've attached some photos of the board.

Hi Mark,

The balsa arrived an hour ago from Sydney to Auckland only 24 hours.  We couldn't believe how quickly it made it here. Brilliant!

Looks like the perfect weight and quality for our needs. Expect more orders next year.

 Cheers Bruce McK


Hi Mark,

Thank you for all your guidance, support in helping me achieve the making of the Balsa board, I really appreciated the detailed instructions and getting an understanding of the components that made up the board. 

The display was amazing, and I got a lot of questions and interest in the design and build process. I also scored a high grade for the project!

 Thanks again, Amelie


Hey Mark, thanks for the speedy response. It showed up shortly after I sent the email. Apologies for that. Everything looks great and I can’t believe how quickly you got it to the USA. Definitely will be a repeat client. Have a great week. 🤙🏼


Sorry mate I have been that busy . I had to leave it with his wife he was out . He absolutely loved it.
He said he wasn’t going to surf it, it is to good, I told him to get on it asap .
I told him we need some feed back hahahhahaha .
His going to call you soon, he absolutely loves it . Thank you so much

I will get a photo handing over asap also . Your the best mark I appreciate it so much.

When I ordered this custom build, I did not expect this to exceed my expectations. This is the best board I have ever ridden and bought for over 50 years. I used the thruster setup and it was easy to paddle and catch waves. Very responsive on the bottom turn and cutbacks. It felt good under the arm, paddling, sitting and also ripping. This has brought on a new drive and passion to want to get out there on these cool mornings. Thanks Mark

Happy with his new board! Thanks heaps Mark - took it for a spin on 3ft currumbin Beachy and it was magic.

Wow!!!  Aloha Mark.

You are a talented artist.That may be the most beautiful balsa gun I have ever seen, and I have seen more than most.I almost subscribed to the mag, but it is a bad idea, me being on Kauai etc.

Congratulations and mahalo for sending it to me, Be well.

Felipe Pomar


Thanks Mark. Board sitting @ 50m from line up, but probably won’t make it off the wall. Wife Gaby likes it so it’s a win. Cheers. Bruce 


Hi Mark

 I thought I should give you some more feedback on my 10’ gun you made: I’ve ridden it a few times now, probably 2.5 - 3 X head height is the largest I’ve taken it out in yet. It is by far my favourite board!

 The only time it’s been to a point was once at The Pass at about double head height. It did exactly what one would expect of a quality gun: Straight line speed and predictable turns. It has a surprisingly tight cut-back also. Stoked!

 All the rest of the time it’s been surfed in considerably less accommodating beach break on the outer banks at Surfers Paradise. Which is what I bought it for, and it beats expectations: I love it totally: On waves I wouldn’t dare drop into on my others boards, I can slot the rail comfortably into the steepest face and just choose where I want to go when I want to got there. On top of which it is super-responsive at any speed. And on really dirty days, the pronounced entry rocker lets me surf some ugly lumps on the face without pearling and sending me pole-vaulting like I do on my other boards on the same waves. What a hoot! Clean or dirty, this board gives me all I want. If I had to strip my quiver down to only one board, this is the board I’d keep.

 Further to which it’s stunning to look at. Not that I find it important at all, but it’s tickling to note that when I’m walking back home from the surf I’m stopped all the time by people wanting to chat about the board.

And my favourite aspect about this board is its environmental sustainability. Maximum respect Mark: You’ve ticked all the boxes as far as I’m concerned. Many thanks.

Like I said before, I’ll catch you when I snap something. From now on I’m only surfing your boards for as long as you’re in business.

Cheers Luke


Mark did an amazing job with creating a custom long board, which is not only beautiful but also performs well. It's so impressive that the board is even worth being displayed on the wall as an art piece.

It has exceeded my expectations! Thanks to Mark for providing such a remarkable long board.


First two waves on the board were captured on film

Surfed like a dream
Was everything I expected and more - thanks Gene


Surfed the new board today.  A couple of waves to get used to it but then had a few crackers.    Lots of volume and a different feel to wax.   Totally stoked with it and looks amazing. Darren


Hi Mark,
All good - really appreciate sending the 2 sharkbanz through straight away when you did and got to me quick -  I wasn't too fused about the color. My son and partner headed off today for an around Aus trip - so it was good to have them as a going away gift this morning.

Much Appreciated,



Wow! You are a craftsman man! Thank you. Now I have seen it I wanna ride it! Arrived safe and sound and before I left home. Perfect timing


Thx Mark!

It’s been a real learning experience, but I have enjoyed the challenge. Hope to be surfing it in 2-3 weeks. 

Very interesting that you are able to mix your own putty. I am impressed with your skills and offerings. Wish we were on the same side of the world! 🤪

Take care!



Thanks so much, again, Mark :such a brilliant experience!!; such a beautiful board … “a thing of beauty is a joy forever” is certainly true for this!



The board has turned up thanks Mark.
It's a work of art!
If the forecast is right I should get a chance to try it out tomorrow morning.
I'll catch you next year for a new log.
All the best. 



Do you happen to have a Video of you guys making a board?
I own one of your 9’ boards… it’s Art! I literally hang it in my living room! My surf widow would never allow any of my boards to hang in the living room… but she loves this one!



Hi Mark, I received the balsa and couldn’t be happier. Nice to see bark on a raw section of one piece. I been building with balsa for 50 years and love the timber. I will show my mates. Cheers, Greg

Raw balsawood


Board looks great

Paul Farquharson


Worked well. Also, have to say, the board "took off" on faces yet I was able to walk a little to nose; one guy drooled over the board and recognized it as a Riley. 

Hey Mark, I christened the board today! I'll send some pics of me using it once I download them onto the computer. I don't know what else to say except we created something absolutely magical!! It was everything I imagined it was going to be and more. I already want to come and make a second one so I've got a spare.

Took the board out today and it did well.  With the floatation it paddles out and into waves with ease.  And is much more responsive than my old board.  The textured deck is also a winner as it is nice and grippy and I didn’t need to apply any wax.   

Thanks Kirk

Thanks Mark, fantastic job and great experience going through the process, you are a true craftsman.

 It’s a shame Guy spoils the photo of my board!!!!



G’day Mark.

 Received the board on Wednesday. Looks amazing, exactly what I had in my mind.

 I took it out this morning in some small stuff and it went well. I had some cork grips on but think I will need wax as well.

 I’ll order some from your sight, do you recommend the wax liquid or the brush on one?

 Thanks again.



Hi Mark,

I just wanted to thank you for your prompt delivery of balsa wood last term (sorry my thanks is late!). Just for your information, our students won the regional Science and Engineering Challenge competition and will now compete at the State level.




Hi Mark,

just to let you know that I got your sample of the Versa Traction ok on 18 May 22 and tried it out today 19 May 22, many thanks.

 This info maybe useful for others, but of course they will need to make their own decision.

 It seems fine with both the bootie and wetsuit (all Need Essentials brand).

 Accordingly, I've just placed a new order with you for the 8'6" longboard, 8-piece kit, as we initially discussed by phone for my new 9'3" Tuflite Takayama In the Pink. I'm placing a normal tailpad on this board also.

 God Bless,

Geoff Keogh

Thanks again for all of your help and for putting on the course and taking a risk doing the foil board with me! I had an absolute blast every step of the way and am so happy with the end result. Couldn’t have done it without you!

Thanks for all your help and direction throughout the whole process Mark. Highly recommend your course to anyone.


Hello Mark, I finished glassing the board yesterday and took it out in small waves at Avoca this morning.  It goes great. I'm off on Sunday to the north coast to give it a go in those long point breaks. Thanks again for all your help making the board and for a great experience.  Thomas



THANK YOU FOR THE PHOTOS!  I’ve been showing off to everyone.    Also hope your next class is cool as!  Thanks for a very nice experience and a finished product.  Hope to use it as soon as I return from Canada!

Take care Mark and see you then!



Mark, the photos you shared are great! I’m going to share them with my chippy dad today!

Ditto on Terry’s comments…a huge thanks to you and Brad for a pretty damn cool experience and a beautiful finished product!

 Have a great week and looking forward to glassing!


Thanks Mark & Brad  for all your help.  It was great & I learnt a lot.  Looking forward to getting the board in the water

 Everyone - enjoy your board & maybe see you on a break somewhere.

 Take care - Terry

Thanks Mark. I took it out voodoo this morning but the swell had not yet arrived. All I can say at this stage is that it paddles well. I look forward to finding out how it rides and will let you know.

I thoroughly enjoyed the board-making process. I have a new appreciation for sustainable board design and materials and I am certain I will enjoy my surfing all the more for it. Very well led by Mark, I highly recommend this.

Andrew Lawson.

Hi Mark , 

It's the hubby Chris , I received my surfboard with gauges today , wow how beautiful it is , thank you and your team for getting this to me b4 xmas , love your work .

I have always admired your boards and think they are great , and had a serious look at your boards before I ordered my own from a local shaper  in Newcastle ( not a balsa board ), so just wanted to say thank you again and will 

pass on any interests from others , 



Great experience. Thanks so much Balsa Surfboards Riley  - mark and thanks for your help Brad Peters. 


Hi Mark, thanks for the photos and sharing your experience in making this board.

As I said yesterday a fantastic journey from tree to board.

Also I watched your PNG YouTube video yesterday a great story.




G'day, Mark..
I received an email early this morning, in relation to my second order of Versatraction. I'm just checking with you, as it seems odd that you've
I received my first order without any extra request from you (and the Versatraction is great, by the way!)



Greetings Mark,

 Board arrived 10/5 PM - very impressive workmanship - happy I found you on the internet - tell your shipping department; a terrific job in packing with many thanks - I will be back for more - probably a Malibu Classic or SUP.  That balsa is much better than I thought it would be,  In fact I think it is better than my Hobie #120, circa 1955.  Well done!

 Thanks again.



Hi Mark

Just wanted to send a message to say how much Mark loves his new board.  The craftsmanship is amazing and it will be mounted on the wall in between surfing sessions as it is so beautiful.  

Just one quick query.  Given the rough surface on the top of the board do you still recommend wax or does the surface itself provide sufficient grip?  We couldn't see any reference to wax in the information and don't want to damage it in any way. 

Many thanks
Briony Lee 


Small surf but board felt unreal , rocker perfect ✅🏄🏼‍♂️🏄🏼‍♂️🏄🏼‍♂️🏄🏼‍♂️🏄🏼‍♂️🏄🏼‍♂️


Thanks Mark for such an amazing experience. Fortunate to have been taught by the master himself!

 Thanks also for your patience with some of my rookie mistakes, and for tolerating my endless questions 😂

 See you soon for round 2 - glassing :)


Mark Was great seeing the guys passion

They don't want to leave each day and they get real excited for their Saturdays

New full time gig 👍

Have had a ball so far just using all the tools. Exceeded my expectations already with the self build shaping course.



Hi Mark,

Happy New Year.

Love the board, it’s light, easy to paddle and makes catching waves a lot easier than my previous board.

Thanks mate.



Paul and his DIY solid balsa fish built with the kit.


Finally getting a chance to ride the board a bit up here at Sandon, I love it lots of fun on the point break. Dan the man

Hi Mark.


I am so ecstatic, you are a legend and As you can tell so happy with the board you are an amazing man for helping us acheive this fantastic board.

Thankyou thankyou thankyou.

These are family heirlooms. 

thank you Mark and team Riley surfboards you are amazing at your craft.

warm regards


Hi mark it's Brian here from Wollongong. Finished the board got it glasses locally and am absolutely stoked with how it came out. Can't wait to get it in the water!  Every thing I needed was in the kit and your DVD was so helpful. Balsa quality is awesome and the colour of the board is amazing. Gearbox fin system is so sweet. Thanks heaps for your input and help. 👍🏽👍🏽


HI Mark Thanks very much. The board is beautiful💙 and it made it without a scratch. We love it.

Hey mate I was finally allowed to open the board tonight... its beautiful! Like really looks amazing, I am not sure how I am going to be brave enough to surf it, too scared of putting a ding 


Hi Mark,

Well my board is up to the putting on the fin stage and I must say it looks rather good.

The balsa sticks you sent me were well above expectations and thanks for positioning the outer stringers for me. That was the secret to an easy build I recon..

Can you give me a price on a blank red cedar main fin with a classic Malibu design outlined on it and I will transfer the money.




Thanks for helping me finish my board Mark, I love it. You're a legend!

So proud of this very talented young son of mine. He made this surfboard from scratch using a combination of Paulownia and Australian Red Cedar woods. He just finished fibre glassing it today and taking it for a trial run in the ocean. He couldn't be happier with himself. Well done kid!

Hey there big fella just received the big D fin 'wowzers wowzers wowzers' best decision i ever made awesome job big thanks cheers


Thanks Mark for installing my racks in a reverse lean scenario, it has really setup my new renos with a great new hero piece of a balsawood surfboard. Thanks heaps Steve

Hi Mark just thought I would keep you updated. In short, really really enjoying the process .  My gluing up was pretty average  and I had to lose 12 inches off the length  so I'm now making 7 ft  board, I'm not concerned about that, as the first board I've ever made. I'm almost ready to put on the nose and tail blocks. 

 I will keep you updated as things progress.

Watched your DVD now 3 times as i pick up more each time.

Thanks again for getting me involved with this and for your email and phone support

 David (Brisbane)

Thanks for sending the DVD express post to me yesterday (How to Make a Classic Balsa Wood Surfboard). It has convinced me that this is the project I really want to undertake.

 The work and your DVD has got me very inspired!!!



Thanks David

Great tide clock  thank you so very much it’s beautiful


fantastic work !!!Hi Mark,

Thanks so much for taking pics of it along the way on the disc

will finish off the blog (it's a bit of a wireframe atm)

can't thank you enough for all your efforts on this project - literally gone through 3 jobs since it started, you got a puppy and have house extensions



hi Mark

 just got the board all safe and sound

 looks great, can’t wait to get it wet

many thanks


HI Mark,

Just another quick thanks for sending the wood, have attached a pic of yesterdays community involvement day, give you a bit an idea of what the kids create with the balsa wood and plasticine.


My name is Mitchell Burk, and in 2015 (when I was 17) I purchased some Balsa and Western Red Cedar from you to create my HSC project for my Timber Technology class. I’m writing to thank you for supplying me with what I needed in order to create a surfboard that I’ll cherish forever. I have still yet to ride this board, only because I get all the satisfaction I need just from starring at it! It’s been an adventurous journey creating such a project, but man… I’m so glad how it all came together! I ended up placing 5 out of 5500 projects, and was exhibited in the Power House Museum and ‘The Sydney timber And Woodworking Show’. Attached are some photos of the finished product. Thanks once again for your inspiration with this project!

 Take it easy,



Nice looking board can't wait to get it out. So stoked with it thanks again. I'll let you know how it goes. Once I've taken it out. 



Hi Mark, balsa stringer arrived today, thanks

Excellent quality & light



HI Mark,

 The fins arrived today, Wednesday.

 Extraordinary service, well done to you and your team.

 Sincere thanks,


You made me a 6’10 native board a few weeks ago (which I love by the way!) .
Would it be possible for me to grab some of that scrap balsa today?


 We still have one more sanding to do--- but this is the finished board.

Your wood is amazing. Thank you.

We used some redwood for the nose and tail.

 I shot the photo after dark, when we finished, sorry about the lighting.

 We appreciate all your efforts to help us. 

 We never would have gotten there without your clear, detailed DVD, your patience with our questions and perfect wood.

Thank you,

 Scott Marshall

1407 Flintridge Rd

West lake Hills, Texas




 Your wood is brilliant.

Great fun.

 We will send you a picture of the finished board.

 Thank you,

 West Lake Hills, TX


Hey Mark, picked up board today. Came in without damage. Good on ya!

Great wrapping. Blank looks great! 

Thanks again for doing this for me! I’m a fan!


Ace in Southern California

double stringer blank



Christmas in March.

 You are a genius.

The shipment arrived safe and sound. 

 The wood is beautiful.

We could not be more delighted.


Scott from the USA



Just came back from Punta de Lobos, surfing With balsa board.                          I'm Very happy and súper stocked.                                                                      The board is awesome.                                                                                    Thank you very much Mark!


Tomas Oberst



D-Fin arrived Mark, thanks! Truly AAA product & service. Aloha John Nielsen 👣


Hi Mark, I received my Fish today, Just wanted to say I think it’s stunning in so many ways, shape, the bottom, rails, proportions, the way it feels under my arm, the beautiful timbers, stringers look brilliant,  the nose is special. All I need is waves, can’t wait to get in the water, I’m so impressed with your craftsmanship and your service, Thankyou Very Much, Regards Steven


Mark - "Everyone went crazy over the new board and couldn't believe how beautiful the balsa was  Mickey Munoz was so very impressed! are definitely the man.   Thanks for all your hard work .......keep me posted on the next round of balsa blanks for the US. "        Robbie

Thanks for the update Mark. New boards in the glass shop will get the first of the week.  Phil Edwards said it was the most beautiful balsa wood he has ever seen, and he has seen a lot.    Thanks, Robbie - Hobie Memorial 


Passing on a message of thanks from a parent.
Connor has not stopped talking since he got home last night. What an amazing experience he had in PNG. He feels very privileged to of been able to go. He keeps commenting on how little they have but how happy they are. And has realized how lucky he is. Thank you so much to you and the other teachers for your support and guidance, we really do appreciate it. Have a great weekend, cheers 


Mark, I just wanted to take the time to write you a small thank you.

 My son has bumbled his way through the last couple of years at school with not a lot of enthusiasm. That somewhat changed when he found your website and asked me if he could build a surfboard for his major work. We were both pumped.

 To be honest, it hasn’t been all clear sailing and he needed a push from time to time (which I have found 17 year old’s don’t appreciate).

 The look on his face yesterday, when he saw the board sitting on the saw horse's, was priceless for me and for that Mark I am truly thankful. The time you gave him to have a chat and to get some great photos was really appreciated.

 I left your place and he said “what a champion bloke Mark is”. 17 years old’s are hard to impress and you made a fan yesterday.

 It will be the highlight of his entire school life and the best father/ son bond that I have had with my son since he was a kid.

 Cheers for everything Mark, I know you dropped everything for him. Keep doing what you are doing mate and I look forward to doing a board for myself in the future. (My son can help me) Thanks


Hi Mark 

Have machined up some of the balsa.Very very happy. Thanks for your efforts.

Cheers Ray.


Hi Mark, just sent through your invoice payment. Looking forward to receiving the grip tape. I'd also like to say that your website is very interesting & easy to use, your boards look beautifuly crafted!

Hope to deal with you in future.

Cheers, Ned


hey mark,

super stoked on these fins they are amazing! 

you're a real skilled craftsman, i will send you a photo of when they are glassed onto the board :) 

thanks Alex


Hi Mark,

 Thanks for the quick delivery, much appreciated.

 I watched it last night and found it pretty amazing to be honest. I will be in touch to source some balsa at some stage !

thanks again Martin



Just wanted you to know that I received the board and it is BEAUTIFUL!!!

Thanks again and I will pass all interested surfers your way!!!

Steve Yancey California, USA


When Mark passed a balsa longboard to Greg Noll for a signature he asked who built this board - Mark answered I did, and he replied with this is fantastic and he then asked who glassed it and once again he replied with what a great job and keep building these beauties. Greg also said - Greg Noll said - Hell yes they did. At 16 to be precise. He began surfing at Manhattan Beach at the age of 11, and shaped his first board — balsa, in Dale Velzy’s factory — at 15. The following year, smitten by stories of guys like George Downing and Wally Froiseth living in Quonset huts at Makaha Beach, he decided to do his last year of high school in Hawaii.

Greg Noll


Hi Mark,

 Received the surfboard last week and although I could only partially unwrap it ,it exceeded my expectations and everyone else's. It will certainly be a talking point for the staff and all the patients ,who are quite a happy lot from the ones I saw.

We are only at truss level but as soon as it is installed I will take a full set of photos and send for you to use for promotional purposes if you wish. 



Balsa Surfboards Riley it is the best, so light and clean definitely the best balsa I have ever seen. Really appreciate you supplying us with such awesome wood. There will no doubt be more in my future.
Robin Mair 

Hey mark just took that board for a ride super stoked !! It road real nice a lot looser than the other one I borrowed .. Thanks bud top job


Hi Mark – The versa traction that I was a little sceptical ( I cant help it) – but it tested perfectly today on my surfboard – no more wax for me – and thanks for a great product.




 Subject: Re: balsa for mini gun

 Hi Mark

I am after balsa to vacuum bag three blanks.

Yep loving it Mark!  The thinner bag of yours works really well.

The first one is 6'3" by 21" wide with 5" nose lift and 2.5" tail lift (including nose and tail thickness)

The second one is 6' by 20" wide with 4.5" nose lift and 3" tail lift (incl nose and tail thickness)

The third is a 9' by 23" mal with 4" nose and 4.5" tail lift (incl nose and tail thickness).

I am also after a 10" and 12" long finbox and 4 side FCS compatible side plugs and one rear plug in the brown colour if you have them.

 Cheers Bill 



I have always admired, respected and admired the love, and craftsmanship, you put into - each and every board, you make. Like the scene out of Avatar - each board has intrinsic personality, and is made to reflect companionship with the rider!



Dear Riley,

 I just want to say I am very satisfied with the product versa traction grip tape, I love it makes my Naish Hokua X32 GT that much better, fit well and now I am covered all the way to the nose for late take offs! Shipping was great I go it under a week from AU! I recommended it to my surfing friends here in Victoria, BC, Canada




Hi Mark

Thank you so much, board arrived Monday morning safe and sound, fantastic you are a true craftsman.
Rob Egan
Bodhitreesurf - I am Stoked with my deliveryversatraction clear deck grip from Mark @rileybalsasurfboards for my family paddleboard. I get my little fella to decorate all my boards so even when I'm not with him he is with me. Thanks Mark and thanks for slipping in the free copy of @smorgasboarder Yeeeeew

Thanks Mark, Yes I have received the versa traction grip tape thank you for sending. 

I have asked a few crew and put the word out there that your looking for a reseller here in the WA, you may get contacted soon.

This stuff for strapless kite boarding is amazing I swear by it and will never go back to wax, every one on the beach is impressed with this product.

Thanks again.  

- Cheers, Greg

Looks terrific 
Review by Manuel
Hi, Mark:
The board is looking really terrific. I hung it as soon as it got home, and it fits perfectly with the ambience. The colours are so good, with different shades, even some pink!
Problem is my wife says I shouldn't be riding it!!
Thanks for the masterpiece.
Work of art! Review by BarryThe board looks great- a work of art. My mate Yak who has recently had
Joe Larkin build him a 9ft 7 glass board is impressed! Just have to wait
for surf now!
Unbelievable! Review by Hawaiian princess
Hi Mark,"The board arrived at Hawaii and it is unbelievable! It is so much more beautiful than I even imagined! It will be thoroughly enjoyed and cherished! Thanks! "

- CHawaiian princess 

" unreal fins Review by scott
Hey Mark,

Received fins and stand yesterday. Fins look great, thanks for the mags.

Merry Xmas and Happy New Year ."
Review by Johno
These are unreal - hand crafted in Australia and very very unique. Great job - its the hero piece in our hallway

 - Scott Daddow 


I ordered a shaping DVD from balsasurfboardsriley and really enjoyed it - good and simple to follow instructions- although the sound on the DVD had a few bumps. They're in Australia though and I needed large section sizes of balsa in Europe. To cut a long story short, I didn't find any reasonable priced large section sizes here in Europe so I decided to order a shaping kit from them. It was cheaper than expected especially with the current exchange rate and the package arrived after 2 1/2 weeks. I started straight away. I ran into trouble here and there but all in all in went pretty smooth (check out the results below). It felt really good shaping the board but the final test came when I took it out on a glassy 3 foot day - STOKE! There is nothing like riding a timber board which you've made yourself. I am super happy and if you are thinking about making a board - go for it! It is awesome.

See you out there!