Ethan Ewing victorious at the Burleigh Heads Single Fin Festival
The 23rd Burleigh Heads Single Fin Festival wrapped today with the North Straddie's Ethan Ewing taking the open division win in predictably mediocre Gold Coast conditions.
Mr Ewing took down reigning champ Joel Parkinson in the throwback event which is based around the Stubbies comps held at the same location from 1977 to 1988.
As the name suggests, competitors must not ride a craft with more than one fin, and this board must have been birthed before 1985.
Having restricted performance capabilities underfoot requires a different approach to wave riding. Lines change, pivot points shift, and a different shade of one’s technique is revealed – the results of which can go either way.
Watch any of the footage from the weekend and you’ll see that both Ethan and Parko (among others!) are more than capable of maintaining silky flow sans side skegs.
For surfing, the year generally finishes up rammed with World Title battles, Triple Crowns, Pipe Masters, Facebook streams, sponsors, qualification angst, and general blood pressure-elevating surf happenings. A laissez faire contest like this is just what the doctor ordered, for spectators and competitors alike.
There’s no priority controversies here, no hops or forced spins, no storming the judge’s quarters, not even a fat cheque. Instead it’s gentle swoops, highlines, arched spines and smiles. The winner receives a custom handshaped board. This year it was a slender Mt Woodgee, shaped by Ian Byrne, exquisitely decorated by artist Willy Nichols.
Adding to the good spirit is the fundraiser element, with proceeds tipping back into the local surf community fostering up-and-coming talent.
Gaining momentum year after year, recognisable names saturate the heat draws that include everything from the latest CT weapons, to comp retirees, shapers, groms - some of whom riding craft three times their age - across three official divisions.
This year the lineup included defending champ, Joel Parkinson, Occy, Luke Egan, Margo (and son, Micah), Harrison Roach, Shaun Manners, Ethan Ewing, Mitch Crews, Louie Hynd, vet surf journo/podcast mogul Vaughan Blakey, Felicity Palmateer, Jaleesa Vincent, Jai Glindeman, and Burleigh local featherweights, Rico Haybittle and Chez Bos.
Measly waist high conditions greeted competitors on the first day giving those who brought their more buoyant craft a slight advantage, while Sunday revealed a marginally better canvas for those still in the running.
Earlier in the final day Ethan Ewing scored a standout 8, linking a bunch of neat redirections on his Geoff Darby 6’0”. So impressive was Ethan’s game throughout the weekend, that before the final Parko appropriately named Ethan the guy to beat. Let’s hope this becomes a common sentiment in the year ahead as Mr Ewing rejoins the big league.
As beers were drained, heroes, groms and spectators mingled on the grass. Occy was spotted with sandpaper in hand applying some last minute repair work to his aged craft before dominating the heritage final. Dimity Stoyle reigned supreme in the women’s division and young Ty Richardson won the groms.
As always the stars of the show were the boards themselves. So much character, so many stories, crafted by shapers present and passed, all on display for public affection.
The Burleigh Singly is a welcome break from the highly strung, logo-infused competition of our modern era, a way to pass on historical appreciation to the next generation and a homage to both creators and riders of these slices of sunkissed surf history.
It’s a weekend of browned glass, soul arching, yarns, bevVies, music and a twist of light-hearted competitive spirit. No wonder the retro shindig is often referred to by its regulars as the best weekend of the year.
May surf events of this kind never die.