Emotional and eccentric regularfoot pro surfer from Newport Beach, California; world-ranked #8 in 1989 and 1990; as famous in the surf world for his oversize, trash-talking personality as for his inventive high-speed floater maneuvers.
Collins was born (1969) and raised in Newport Beach, the son of surfboard-maker Lance Collins, founder of Wave Tools Surfboards. Lance took Richie out surfing as a toddler; at age eight, Collins entered and won his first contest; at 14 he turned professional, and four years later finished his debut year on the world tour ranked #30. He won the 1988 O'Neill Coldwater Classic in Santa Cruz, the 1989 Op Pro in Huntington Beach (beating three-time world champion Tom Curren in the final), and the 1992 Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach; in a four-year stretch from 1988 to 1991, he finished the year rated 14th, eighth, eighth, and 10th. Collins dropped off the tour in 1993, then returned in 1995 for a brief and unsuccessful comeback attempt.
The lanky Collins (6', 150 pounds) was never a great stylist, appearing at times to be all knees, elbows, and bony size-13 feet, but in the late '80s he put more variations and twists into his off-the-top maneuvers than any other pro, and was able to stretch his floaters out for yards at a time. He rarely kept anything in reserve, and would launch one move after the other until either the wave ended or he fell off.
Collins began shaping at age 15, and was the only top-rated surfer of the period to make his own surfboards. He was also known as confrontational, self-abusive, wickedly funny, and apocalyptic. Collins would smash his head against his board during a losing streak; he said that "soul surfing" was foreign to him and that he surfed "only for competition;" he went on record noting that masturbation was key to maintaining the celibacy demanded by his born-again Christian faith.
Collins appeared in nearly two dozen surf movies and videos including Filthy Habits (1987), No Limits (1988), Pump! (1990), and Session Impossible (1991). From 1992 to 1995 he owned and operated Contra Surfboards; from 1996 to 1999 he owned and operated California Hot Shapes.
By 2012, Meah Collins, Richie's daughter, had become one of California's hottest young prosepcts; in 2014 she won the Sunset Pro Junior in testing triple-overhead conditions.