About us

Who we are!

Riley Balsawood Surfboards are focused on providing the best balsa services with the highest levels of customer satisfaction since 1996 & we will do everything we can to meet your expectations. With a variety of offerings to choose from, we're sure you'll be happy working with us. Look around our website and if you have any comments or questions, please feel free to contact us. We hope to see you again! Check back later for new updates to our website. There's much more to come!

 About Mark Riley and the company - Mark grew up in  Melbourne and Sydney and was drawn to surfing at an early age and spent the majority of his time in the water. After completing his carpentry apprenticeship and working several years in the trade he was ready for a change. So he packed his bag and a couple of surfboards and was off on an extensive trip through Mexico, Central and South America.

Mark in Puerto 96

Two months into the trip he had broken both Polyurethane (PU) boards in Puerto Escondido. Having this frustrating experience in the back of his mind he stumbled upon balsa wood in Ecuador. The material was light, had great flex characteristics and grew fast on sustainable farms. Being a carpenter by trade he knocked up his first board then and there.

After the first trial sessions he saw the potential in the material - not just as solid balsa surfboards but also in combination with foam.

12 months after leaving Australia he returned to Sydney – in tow a container of balsa sticks. Soon after, in April 1996, Riley Balsawood Surfboards was founded.

The company started making beautiful, high quality retro style 50's and 60's Solid Malibus. On the side he tested combinations of balsa and foam on his private boards. Three years later he was convinced to have found a true alternative to polyurethane surfboards. Recycled EPS foam in combination with a 2-3mm balsa "skin" made the boards super light but also very strong. The boards felt great in the water and attracted much attention. Word of mouth spread fast and soon the order books were filled with solid Classics as well as a range of EPS core shortboards, fishes, minimals and high performance longboards.

Nowadays he is still the director of Riley Classic Balsa Boards. He is the head shaper and runs the whole operation of selecting the balsa wood in Ecuador and PNG, grading, cutting, laminating, shaping and finishing all orders. As Ecuadorian balsa is renowned for its superb quality we still import containers on a regular basis. We are now stocking even better quality balsa from Papua New Guinea in BIG section sizes. As we are constantly trying to reduce our impact on the environment we have also started growing balsa trees here in Australia. We are very proud of hand crafting all our products right here in Australia.

In late 2007 Riley Balsawood Surfboards launched an instructional DVD in which he shares all his balsa shaping secrets. After great response from the surfing community he released a downloadable E-book explaining in detail how a solid balsawood surfboard is made.

In 2008 Riley Balsawood Surfboards launched the first 100% organic cotton and Australian made t-shirt line.

Together with his beautiful wife Lourdes and surf enthusiastic kids Sebby and Elyss he lives a happy life in Miranda (Sydney, NSW). If you have questions on balsa surfboards or shaping just get in touch via: mark@riley.com.au

To all of you, from all of us at Riley Surfboards - Thank you for you intererest and happy surfing!

Mark Riley

Video on Riley Balsa

 Riley is always developing the eco friendly surfboard with beauty, functionality and uniqueness in every board. Building every board by hand in Australia makes the process seamless and rewarding to the builder the customer and the environment.  

WHO WE SUPPORT

Since 1996 Riley has donated to support the surfing world, environmental issues and communities by donating time, support, gifts, products and money to make the world a better place. So if you buy something from Riley – it stays in Australia and a portion of profits is donated to a worthy cause. Some of the past organisations that Riley has donated to are:

Ohana Surf Classic
BuyAustralianMade.com.au
Surfrider Foundation
World Wildlife Fund
Rainforest Alliance
Rainbow Club
Southside Malibu Club
Lennox Longboarders Club
Coastalwatch
Yowie Bay Primary School
Red Cross Bush Fire Appeal
Fundraiser For The People Of Peru
Surf Competition In Peru
Elouera Surf Club                                                                                           Wood Naturally Better (TM)                                                                                                St. John's youth group                                                                                               Wesley Mission                                                                                                               PNG                                                                                                                         Southside Longboarders