Meet Mischa Davis - Gurf Queen of the Single Fin Mingle Meet Mischa Davis - Gurf Queen of the Single Fin Mingle

Meet Mischa Davis - Gurf Queen of the Single Fin Mingle

Meet Mischa Davis - Gurf Queen of the Single Fin Mingle Meet Mischa Davis - Gurf Queen of the Single Fin Mingle
Having never been to the south island of NZ and seeking no prior knowledge about where we were going, we landed in Christchurch (narrowly avoiding an ex-cyclone low pressure system floating over our departing airport) at 3am in the morning with a group of 7 of us and a mountain of luggage. With no transportation and no idea, the airport and town were basically empty, but we ended up in a bus within 5 minutes en route to our accommodation thanks to the helpful nature of New Zealanders. 

The Single Fin Mingle... What an event! There was nothing but good vibes throughout the whole weekend. Board swapping, wave sharing, beer drinking, story telling, it all led to a hugely successful Mingle, an event I would recommend not missing out on next year. Even if the waves didn't show, it would've been pumping out of the water thanks to Mingle organiser Ambrose McNeil and fellow invitees, from the locals to the shredders from all over the planet.

Lucky for us there were fun waves! And it was an absolute pleasure to see Mischa Davis dancing on them!

atmosea Misha
Photo by  Nicholas Holmes
  1. When did you start surfing?

I officially started surfing when I was 11 when I decided that I wanted to be a 'surfer'  and my parents went and bought me an old dunga surfboard. I had been a gymnast for many years and I'd tried all sorts of sports but there was something about being in the ocean that just felt so free and fun. I gave up all the other sports and became absolutely obsessed with surfing (I still am). Surfing really stole my heart. 

atmosea Misha

Photo by Nicholas Holmes

atmosea Misha

Photo by Nicholas Holmes

  1. What got you into surfing?

My parents who both surfed at the time. My dad is the eternal grom and still surfs more than I do. My childhood was spent growing up playing on the beach while my parents surfed so it was sort of inevitable that I would get into it myself one day.

  1. Can you explain the vibes at single fin mingle?

The Single Fin Mingle was a giant mingle of loggers made of women and men, young and old. It was just so much fun. I feel like I spent the whole weekend with a huge smile across my face. I've been going since it first started 3 years ago and it's so cool to watch it grow, every year being better than the last. It's like a big reunion for us loggers in NZ but also so cool to meet new people from all over the world. Sumner itself is a pretty unique place in Aotearoa NZ where the waves are more suited for longboarding and because of that a really special community has emerged. I believe the supportive community is a big part of what makes the event so special. It feels really open minded and inclusive and I think what I love most about the Mingle is how many women are involved and enter. It's also cool because there's so much else going on other than just the competition meaning you don't have to enter the comp to have a good time. I thought it was awesome that a big crew of gurfers had traveled up from Dunedin for the event not to compete but to hang out, free surf and enjoy the festivities. That really epitomized the event for me - that and also the moment when the incredibly talented jazz singer Malcolm Mcneill was doing a set after the prize giving and Hudson Ritchie got up and started dancing solo. It was an intimate setting everyone sitting around listening and watching intently and I feel that Kiwi's would usually be too reserved to do something like that but Hudson being from California just got up and started dancing with these beautiful moves that just fitted perfectly with the music, it was so so cool. It really epitomized it because that's what it was all about - an event bringing together people from all over the world with their own cultural experiences, creating this real eclectic mix of humans, all brought together by our shared love of traditional longboarding. 

  1. What do you think about the girls surfing “community” in NZ?

I love our girls surfing community in NZ. The surfing community itself is so small in NZ. I always say it's a small world if your from NZ but especially if your a surfer from NZ. Everybody knows each other. Obviously the girls surfing community is even smaller but I really feel that girls are flooding into surfing at such a high rate now. While there's no specific hub for women's surfing akin to Byron Bay over here you can go to places like Manu Bay in Raglan or on the east coast like Whangamatta and Gisborne and on any given day of swell there will be lots of girls in the line-up. I personally have an awesome network of girl friends scattered around the country who I've met either through competitions when I was younger or literally from just paddling up to them in the surf and saying 'hey', and we stay connected via social media. We may not get to surf together all that often but when we do it's super special and it's so nice being able to travel around NZ and have a girl friend to stay and surf in so many beautiful places.

atmosea Misha

Photo by Nicholas Holmes

  1. Do you feel like you find surfing a creative outlet? How so?

I'm not a super creative person myself, my job can be pretty mundane at times, so yeah I do feel surfing is my creative outlet, especially so when I try out different boards. For example when I take out a soft top or one of my dads old single or twin fins I don't have any expectations for myself I'm literally just going out to have fun and to see what happens. In comparison when I take out my favourite log or shortboard in perfect waves I know what I want to do on the wave and have these expectations of myself of what is going to be a good wave and what's not. So yeah riding different boards really opens up the creativity and makes it fun and interesting. 

atmosea Misha

Photo by Nicholas Holmes

atmosea Misha

Photo by Nicholas Holmes

  1. Can you describe where you live?

Where I live right now is on a 2.5 acre block in an old farm house in an old orcharding community called Oratia in the foothills of the Waitakere Ranges and on the outskirts of Auckland city. I've actually lived here since I was about 8 years old and the primary school I went to is just down the road. Before then I lived in Piha, the closest surf beach which is about a 20 minute drive away and the place I like to call my spirit home. My dad still lives in Piha so I stay with him on the weekends. Piha itself is a little coastal settlement nestled into the Waitakere Ranges, completely surrounded by native forest with only one road in and out. It's beautiful. It also has volcanic black sand and is infamous for it's crazy big swells so not very logging friendly but on it's day it's just magic!

  1. Do you have anyone sponsoring you for surfing?

I haven't had a sponsor for about 3 years now. Prior to that I had a string of sponsorship's since I was 14 years old that included Ripcurl, Roxy and Canadian brand Sitka. I really love now not being obligated to anybody and being able to wear what I want especially because I love second hand clothes and op-shopping! Not having a sponsor also makes me value things more like I take especially good care of my wetsuits now and when I do purchase things I value quality over quantity. 

  1. What’s your normal day like?
 A normal day is riding my bike to the train station and taking the train into Auckland City for work. I love taking the train for the people watching and reading a book. I work from a shared office space in Auckland called The Collective which is filled with nonprofits, startups, and freelancers with a social, creative, environmental or community focus, so it's a super inspiring place to be. I work part-time doing environmental law and advocacy work for a couple of different environmental organisations. On a non work day i'll be surfing in Piha or pottering about home in the garden and looking after the chickens and ducks.
  1. Do you mix it up in terms of different styles? Or are you strictly a log rider?

It's funny you ask because just before I went down to the Mingle I realised I had had this full mental block against riding my shortboard. On realising this I took my quad-fin fish out for a surf, just me and a friend, and had the best surf ever! I was a competitive shortboarder for many years before I got into longboarding. What I loved about the transition to longboarding was how graceful it was and it just felt so liberating after the many years of coaching and training on a shortboard. But it's like I've come to resent shortboarding in the last few years which is sad because as I realised the day before I left for the Mingle shortboarding can be so much fun still too! 

atmosea Misha

Photo by Nicholas Holmes

atmosea Misha

Photo by Richard Hodder

  1. What drives you, what are your passions?

Justice to put it simply especially for the environment. Ever since I was young I had a drive to want to make things right and I had a lovely childhood growing up at the beach and in the bush which is what I feel led me to study environmental law. I liked the idea of being an environmental lawyer however the reality of that work is much different to what i'd imagined. Meeting my partner Nick brought me down to earth. We have a shared vision of living a simple life close to nature which I feel is a real driver for me now. 

atmosea Misha

Photo by Nicholas Holmes

  1. If you had to give a 15-year-old some advice, what would it be?

In NZ we tend to suffer from tall poppy syndrome a lot and we can be pretty reserved and conservative as a result of it. I really feel we need to be braver, not to be afraid to speak out about things that aren't right but also not to be afraid to celebrate our achievements and value ourselves more in that way. I also feel that with social media these days young girls have a lot of pressure on them to look and be a certain way. So I would say firstly to try not to buy into that stuff. Follow those that inspire you and make you feel positive and happy. Also believe in yourself and trust yourself, you can do and be anything you believe in. Don't be afraid to dream big, to stand out and be different. And never stop dreaming. 

atmosea Misha

Photo by Nicholas Holmes

  1. Best amp song before surfing

I honestly don't really have one! I'm not really so into listening to music to get me ampped for surfing but if I had to choose one I think it would be Crystalfilm by Little Dragon simply because there's a video on youtube that's a scene from the original Endless Summer with these perfect waves and old logs, super dreamy.