The Single Fin Mingle Has Nailed The Blueprint Of Grassroot Surf Contests - Stab Mag

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The Single Fin Mingle Has Nailed The Blueprint Of Grassroot Surf Contests

The 10th anniversary of the bombastic surf + art + music fez returns to Christchurch, April 4-7.

Words by Ethan Davis
Reading Time: 4 minutes

“Yeah, I’m going but I don’t know if I’ll be partying too hard. I’m pretty keen to win.”

Few stereotypes hold up to scrutiny. Normally there’s a kernel of truth hidden somewhere, but for the most our broad strokes merely reflect lazy cognitive shortcuts, silly tribal allegiances and two heaped teaspoons of insecurity. 

The top quote uttered by a prospective Mingler is a good example of a round peg not quite fitting in a square hole.

The idea that longboarders are typically less competitive than their shortboarding peers is a popular one, helped along by the fact the WSL, the main body for organizing and funding surfing contests, is not overly invested in their continued existence. 

Just three (4 if you include them being stuffed into the US open lay days) Championship logging events ran last season before crowning World Champs (⅓ as many events as the CT).

The prize money for Kai Sallas and Soleil Errico winning Bells was $5K, 1/16th of the prize purse Ethan Ewing and Tyler Wright received for their wins at the same location.

2024 represented a modest upgrade to the Woz’s log tour, with four whole contests slated to take place at Bells, HB, El Salvador with one mystery location still to be announced. 

The takeaway here is that you need to forgive Joel Tudor for launching the odd heated missive – you’d probably get sick of fighting for chump change too after 30+ years. As a black belt in Jiu Jitsu and the world’s oldest World Champ, you’d think it would be a walkover by now. 

Fortunately, some loggers with initiative have been working on solutions for quite some time. The Single Fin Mingle presents a different vision for longboarding outside the conventional contest parameters. Founded by Ambrose McNeill, the SFM is a life-enhancing surf contest involving single-skegs, a street party, a film festival and art exhibitions.

Based in Sumner – Ōtautahi Christchurch, the 10-year anniversary is set to be the “dance of the decade”, and will see a collection of the worlds best logging talent compete for a prize purse comparable with this year’s Bells log event (side note – SFM offered equal pay since the start in 2015, 4 years before wsl cottoned on that equality was cool) but instead of headphones and swiss balls, surfers at the SFM will be psyching up while sipping on beers and soaking in hot tubs on the sand.

“In 2015 I was a pretty fizzed up 23-year-old who had just returned home to NZ after a 7-month surf & party pilgrimage from San Fransisco to Costa Rica. Suddenly my little seaside town in the South Island of New Zealand seemed very sleepy from the beachside BBQs at Malibu or the pumping waves (and parties) of Puerto. I was watching clips of Joel Tudors Duct tape go down at perfect first point Noosa while I was peeling off a stinky steamer. While looking into stowaway scenarios to get across the ditch over a big night with my buds in Sumner – a light bulb went off. Although the waves in Sumner were worlds away from Noosa, our village had a vibe that even with all the white linen in the world, Hasting St, hadn’t. 

We didn’t have a budget from the world’s biggest footwear brands but instead had the backing of a tight-knit community. Friends painted banners and played in bands, mums and dads manned BBQs and the old legends did some super suspect judging. 

Luke O’Neill, reigning mens champ of the prestigious SFM.

Year after year the Mingle has grown into a fully-fledged surf, art, film, and music festival. We’ve worked really hard to build meaningful sponsorships and in turn, make it one of the handful of independent professional log events in the world. However, it’s the genuine sense of manaakitanga (a Māori word which encompasses hospitality, kindness, generosity, respect, and support) that shines through that has crew from all corners of the globe coming back not chasing cheques but for ‘The Mingle’. ”

86 invitee surfers will compete for the prestigious Mingle crown but hoards more will come for the parties which see 17 artists performing over the 4 nights / 3 days. The event reaches its pinnacle at The SFM Street Party presented by Parrotdog which is headlined by some of NZ’s finest homegrown talent by way of Wax Mustang, The Butlers and Emily C. Browning. If you’re looking for an excuse to go to South Island, NZ in early April get your tickets here.

Get your tickets here.

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