The Single Fin Mingle, Soirée of the Year!

Not to be confused with a singles dating event, traditional longboarding festival, The Single Fin Mingle ran in Sumner, Christchurch over the weekend. It was very, very rad.

Among other things, the Mingle was inspiring, fun and outrageous. Some say it was better than Christmas. Some say it was better than sex. Some said it changed their lives. We’ve got a lot to say. Here it is. Our recap of the event.


The Opening of the 2018 Single Fin Mingle

We arrived at the Sumner surf life saving club late on Friday night. Unfortunately, we missed the Mihi Whakatau and all of the opening formalities. We did however, get to experience a few hours of Coronas, jazz, nibbles and mingling with new friends (a common theme throughout the event). The vibe was contagious. We were only hours into the Mingle and the collective mood was happier than Larry himself. The social atmosphere, as we would learn, is half the magic at the festival (more on this later).

So with a gang of new friends, we headed over to Sumner’s Hollywood theatre. More Coronas were downed and a number of epic logging films were on show. Free beers at the movies? Only at the Mingle. To celebrate the films, we had a few more beers and a bit of a soirée in the car park.

With our accomm a 30 minute drive away, back in Christchurch, we were in a bit of a rut. ‘Where would we stay?’ we asked ourselves. But worry not, at the Mingle. Our comrades had us covered. We were thrown into a van and whisked away to a Sumner flat where our soirée continued for a little longer. We ended up getting sideways at 2am.

Here's a few photos everything we missed. And it's here that we'll introduce Dave Thew. Dave Thew of Byron Bay shot the whole event on 35mm film, in, and out of the water. Alongside Hello Zukeen photog, Cam Hay, the pair did a hell job shooting the Mingle. On ya boys!

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Day 1 at the Mingle

Day 1 of competition kicked off early on Saturday morning. We woke to a grey sky, an icy morning and a certain, suit, tie and gumboot wearing Jordan Griffin, frying mushrooms outside on a portable bbq and rambling about the cold - “Hoooly shit dude. I’m sleeping in boardies under a single sheet at home, this is unreeal”.

We set off for the beach. The waves were small and no one was bothered. As the contest area filled with spectators, the sun pushed through the clouds and round one begun.

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The Single Fin Mingle is in its fourth year and it was quickly evident that it’s grown to become a world class event showcasing the world's best loggers. The draw was brimming with class, attracting surfers from Australia, Japan, Portugal and all over NZ.

Notable was the size of the women's field. It was the biggest women's division yet - 32 of the world’s best female loggers. It was unreal to see so many lady sliders getting among the Mingle. The talent was through the roof.

For anyone nursing hangovers from Friday’s movie night, the event area at Scarborough Beach was a dream come true. The Allpress caravan was parked up and brewing quality espresso, Sumner’s Village Inn had lunch for the masses and to top it off, the event was sound-tracked by a very smooth playlist of jazz. The Mingle was well and truly underway.

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Ambrose Mcneill, the founder of the Mingle, was on commentating duties, alongside local legend David Oswell. Oswell, with a voice like dark chocolate, was an absolute treat to the ears. I'd let that man sing me to sleep any day of the week. His gorgeous, deep baritone worked wonders alongside Ambrose’s frothier, higher pitched quips. 

The surfers really didn’t need a whole lot to work with. The waves were knee to waist high and the competitors got busy.

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The close of competition ushered in the first of the night’s Mingle events. The event at the LEstrange gallery was the Mingle’s inaugural art show. Showcasing the fine work of Paul Mcneil and his ‘Stoke Street’ exhibition, the event was a very classy way to kick the night off. Mcneil worked as a graphic designer for Mambo and his penchant for bright colors, words and symbols, shone throw in his work. Aesthetically, the work was quite minimal, but evocative enough that it had the Minglers engaging with and conversing about the works.

Nice one Paul!

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The debauchery was just kicking off. Next up was the event party at the Sumner Community Centre. An absolute humdinger. Corona brought the more beers and Three Wise Birds came to the party with their delicious cider. Local boys The Butlers and Auckland based, The Shambles provided the tunes. It all got a little out of hand in the best way possible. 

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The Finals of the Mingle

We woke with a head full of snakes and stumbled down to the beach. Come Sunday morning, mother nature brought the sun and a pulse in the swell. The bigger surf offered a canvas for carves, laybacks and a few floaters. The surfers went rail to rail as the day heated up.

The finals were predictably neck and neck and the judges had their work cut out for them. In the men's final was Luke Oneill of Sumner, Christchurch, Jordan Griffin of Mount Maunganui, Sam Crookshanks of Noosa Heads and young Gus O’Malley of the Central Coast, NSW.

It’s a Mingle tradition that all finalists must scull a Corona before paddling out, “to level the playing field”, according to one of the commentators. And so, the boys downed their beers and hit the water. What ensued was the best surfing that went down all event.

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It was humbling to see Gus O’Malley at just 16 years of age, holding his own against the grown ups. The kid’s chicken legs are almost as skinny as mine and boy, does he rip. At such a young age, against such a stacked final, it's pretty clear the kid and his pins is going to go a very long way. We look forward to seeing Gus take out a Mingle in years to come.

Jordan Griffin set the bar high early on, with a couple of very stylish hang-tens. Griffo also sports a fine pair of chicken legs, and the people at Hello Zukeen are beginning to wonder if skinny legs are advantageous for longboarders? Regardless of leg girth, Griffos footwork was agile and attractive.

The boys went to town and the final was as tight as a tick. It was near impossible to call.

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Contesting the women's final was Stephanie Schechter of San Diego, California, Mischa Davis of Piha, NZ, Claire Sullivan of Byron Bay and Lucy Small of West Australia. 

Smooth and stylish, Mischa was on point. She caught a number of pearlers, stringing together carves and toes-on-the-nose to great effect. As a two time winner of the Mingle, Mischa was always a strong favorite. And Stephanie, on a watermelon log, had without a doubt, the raddest board of the event. One hell of a dancer, both in and out of the water, Steph got quite fruity (sorry) out there.  

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Like the men's final, there was almost nothing in the ladies. The audience held their collective breath and headed back the Sumner Surf Life Saving Club for the closing ceremony. After a few more bevys, nibbles and mingles, it was time. Ambrose and Bradley got back into formalities and thank you's before announcing the results of the 2018 Single Fin Mingle. In the end, Jordan Griffin took out the mens and Claire Sullivan took out the womens! Congratulations you wonderful humans. 

1st: Jordan Griffin

2nd: Luke Oneill

3rd: Gus O’Malley

4th: Sam Crookshanks

 

1st: Claire Sullivan

2nd: Mischa Davis

3rd: Stephanie Schechter

4th: Lucy Small

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Collected Thoughts

The Mingle was a whirlwind of surf, arts and epic people. Only hours into the opening ceremony, some dude described the comp to me as, “basically a school camp where everyone is your mate”.

During our first hour at the opening ceremony, us Hello Zukeen Single Fin Mingle virgins were mesmerized with the social atmosphere.  No pretentiousness and too-cool hipsters. Like a family reunion, from all corners of the globe, the Minglers become this instantaneous kind of family. 

 Ambrose McNeil, Alongside design extraordinaire Bradley King, has created a world class event, an entire festival that is a whole lot more than a longboarding competition. It’s a celebration of culture, an intersection of surf, arts and saltwater enthusiasts. 

The Single Fin Mingle is an ode to simplicity and style, a trip back in time and a nod to the pioneers of the sport. It sings praise to the simple experience of wave-riding. It reminds us why we surf.

As Ambrose put it, during the finals of the Mingle, “I think we’re pretty happy here in Sumner. I don’t want to watch man made waves in a swimming pool. This is pretty cool”.

And so, 48 hours in, and at the end of the Mingle, we were feeling sentimental. Thick of thieves with the other Minglers and overwhelmingly stoked with everything that went down, we finally hit the road home, reminiscing on a beautiful weekend in Sumner.

 

Photos by Dave Threw - @dreamingcaterpillar & Cam Hay - @camhay_

Words by Sam Fraser-Baxter

Will Meehan