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Grown To Glide Film

In April 2021 we embarked on a journey to bring to life a craft that represented the fun, freedom and joy of surfing, by creating a board that left a small footprint on our environment but had a large impact on our community. Together with The Single Fin Mingle, we worked with local craftsman, Michael Gilling, to build a surfboard made from local & eco materials. The board was then shared with the community, and awarded to 'the Mingler' - this was the individual who most embodied the spirit of the festival.

We are humbled to share with you the Grown to Glide film which captures this journey, at a time when celebrating community connection around the world was not possible, which made this experience extra special.

The Process

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Natural & Local.

Paulownia timber was delivered to Michael’s workshop from a local farm in the North Island. It is a fast growing timber, that doesn’t require large amounts of resource to grow. These 6 planks of wood will be cut down into thin sheets to build the top and bottom skin of the surfboard.  

The Bones.

The internal design is drawn up on the computer, printed out full scale and glued onto a sheet of 4mm marine plywood. The stencils are cut out with a bandsaw and holes are drilled into the ‘ribs’ to reduce weight and allow airflow around the board. The centre stringer ('spine') sets the rocker, and each rib sets the top + bottom contours. The rib's are slotted together, forming a skeleton structure. Infrastructure blocks are added and shaved down to provide further stability. 

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Coming together.

The skeleton is sandwiched together between the two Paulownia wood sheets in an adjustable rack. Once the rocker curve lines up nicely with the top and bottom skins of the board, they are glued together. Once the glue has set, the board is removed from the rack. Old tyre tubes are used to clamp the outer edges, before gluing down the wooden rails. 

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Final Touches.

The board sets in the clamps for a few days. Then Michael starts the shaping process, sanding the body of the surfboard - the curvatures of the board start to really come to life. A section on the tail of the board is routed out to fit the single fin. 

Conscious Craftsmanship

One of the main purposes of this project was to connect our community in a conscious way, with mother nature at the heart of our decision making. Choosing to build a timber board was intentional. 

Timber is a more sustainable material over other standard surfboard shaping materials. Single-use plastic fragments were removed from Sumner beach, and used as detailing - closing the cycle on this wasteful material. Finally, the resins used to glaze the board were from all natural sources.

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Connection & Community

Feeling connected creates purpose. Gratitude and appreciation are pathways to connection. Having the ability to play and be joyous within the environments mother nature provides, is one of the best ways to feel connected. Surfing represents the fun, freedom and joys of connection.

At a time like this, we have realised how important community truly is. We need each other in order to make it through good and bad times. We wanted to celebrate the freedom of being able to come together and connect through craft and surfing - especially at a time when Aotearoa is one of the few countries in the world to be able to do so.

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The Mingler Award

We wanted the board that represented the love of surfing and community to be awarded to the person who most embodied the spirit of The Single Fin Mingle festival - someone who radiates and spreads joy, is thirsty for adventure and selflessly lends a hand. ‘The Mingler Award’ was given to a deserving local of Sumner, Steve Garratt – congrats! 


We are stoked and thankful to have had the opportunity to collaborate on this project with The Single Fin Mingle team - legends. Also, special mention to Jonathan Smit who created this film and Michael Gilling for his craftsmanship. A big thanks also to the Hydro Flask International team who supported us in this project.