Finally we get our first Kiwi interviewed on the forum. Ben Mackinnon is no stranger to some hard, technical surfing as you will see.
As a special treat I've asked him to include some old-skool pics from the 90's along with some of the most recent pics you can see from Arica and of course some local breaks in New Zealand.
Sit back, relax and get ready to have a few good laughs at a funny bloke.Doc: Hey BMax,
Cracker message when you came back from Arica.haha. Before getting onto El Gringo we better cover New Zealand, seeing as you are the first NZ rider we’ve interviewed on the forum.
How would you describe the surf breaks you haunt (no secret ones of course) and can you give a summary of the booger scene in NZ as a general overview?BM:
Haha.....Yeah Bad, Bad night, I finally went out in Chile to the Arica contest after party at Soho (big night club down by the beach)
600mls of Pisco later (a local alcoholic drink like vodka) Chris Garden and I are at the worst strip club known to man watching chubby trolls rub themselves on bits of furniture. I spent the whole time with a look of fear on my face. After tipping 100 pesos (20cents) we got the hell out of there.
After party rocked, though I could no longer feel’s my face or limbs. Gardy dominated the local ladies on the dance floor and I somehow staggered home and began drunk emailing mates, good times, though I will never drink again...............whatever!
Enough babbling, I live in Dunedin at the bottom of the east coast of the south island. We get constant south swells which wrap in from the west coast and arrive well lined up and clean. I grew up bodyboarding in a small coastal town called Wanganui. We had a similar set up to Port Mac in Aussie with a point break wave in the river mouth. As a grom it was a good place to learn with lots of punchy wedges, but now it’s just a dead town with weak surf due to sand loss.
I bailed to Dunedin in 2007. It has Cold, cold water, 4/3 steamer September-June and you don’t even want to surf June-August (unless you are Hayden Parsons) as it pretty much snows on the beach.
I live close to the main town beach, St Kilda and have five waves (mainly beach breaks) all within 10-30minutes drive which work in all conditions.
Dunedin in a kind of small peninsula so when one side goes onshore the other is offshore, and while the other is onshore it builds up the swell on that side, until it swings offshore there, excellent. It’s a full Uni town with heaps of fun to be had without the overcrowding of bigger cities.
A 1.5 to 2.5 hour drive north or south brings epic reef breaks and world class setups.
The rest of New Zealand offers great waves, but epic days are few and far between and most breaks need a lot of factors to happen to pump.
The New Zealand booger scene is pretty spread out and probably no bigger than Sydney’s total booger population. The website isolated.co.nz gives it a bit of cohesiveness and we have a five event National tour which has run for a good 15+ years now.Doc: There’s a YouTube clip previewing the “Isolated” DVD by Hayden Parsons and M44 productions. This includes footage following Ryan Hardy and Co. through an epic trip to NZ, which was featured in Rippy #159. What timing in the clip are you in for this one so the crew can get a quick look at you? And also, if you can remember, what sections on the DVD are you in case some of the crew have it lying around?http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uzAVPSc2T78BM: Yeah, I have a mixed section with Hayden Parsons and Levi Turner about 10-15minutes into the video. There’s a big invert in the introduction from one of my favourite breaks as well about 1.5 hours from home.Doc: What other vids show you’re riding?BM: Haha, actually stuff all. I stopped for a good five years between 2001 and 2006 and took up competitive cycling and running of all things to do. I got a bit over it and missed the freedom of riding my boog so I started up again. Really only got back into it again 2 years or so ago. Doc: You were rated top six in open men’s under 18’s in New Zealand’s National Rankings for 2000 – how long you been on the scene and competing for?BM: I started bodyboarding in 1995. Was a complete kook for a good year, then got into my first contest in 1996 and won against a lot of high profile NZ riders at the time. I did pretty well the years between 1997 and 2000 winning a lot of open men’s NZ tour events and placing high at Nationals. I went to Hawaii in 1998 for the Pipe comp but got knocked in the trials at turtle bay in 2ft crap. In 1999 I did the Sintra Pro event getting through a few rounds and repeating that at the 2000 Pipe Comp getting through a few rounds. In 2001 I won the Open Nationals titles then stopped riding my bodyboard, worked heaps and just did other things.Doc: You competed at Arica this year, killah wave and one of my personal faves on the planet. You came 1st in heat 5 of Round 1. Then came the clincher in round 2 heat 5 where with 1 minute to go you need 4.6 to get into second, after being knocked out of first by a local getting a sweet keg only minutes before. It winds out that a wave comes through and you pull a loop roll in a weak section Huey gives you for a 4.2, third by .04. you musta been gutted man. Comp surfing is such a head trip – how did you find the head games in Arica?BM: For sure, I was pretty devo after it; I told Gardy who was shooting to put me on suicide watch!!! But you get over it..........eventually. A lot of great boogers got knocked due to tricky conditions (Hardy, Player etc) and you just have to accept that with the good comes the bad. I used to be pretty hard on myself as a grom, but since getting back into it I’m a bit more relaxed with it all. I bodyboard first because I love it and love progressing and pushing myself. Last year I won the NZ nationals and the overall tour and even tried the Pipeline contest in 2008 (but I have a terrible heat and got knocked out straight away!!)
Deep down I was stoked to get to Arica this year after fracturing my back in January this year in Rarotonga and injuring my hip really badly at Nuggen in June which forced me out of the water for 6weeks. 1st surf in 6 weeks was 6ft Gringo!!!
I was gutted that I never really got to open up during the comp in some better waves, and you always think what you would have done in your heat after it’s all over. But you can’t change the past, only move on to try again. The South American boys are always hard as they hassle you pretty hard, but you just have to keep your head and stay relaxed as it only takes two great waves to win a heat.
Stewart was a full inspiration at Arica, 46 going on 47 against guys half his age. Man that’s just so much motivation to keep going and progressing as long as you can!Doc: the comp surfing is pretty ordered, but the free-surfing there, with everyone amped beforehand can get ‘hectic’ to say the least. Any stories you would care to share to give a picture of the intense atmosphere of the place?BM: I was in Arica a good 3 weeks before the comp just surfing every day. It was epic, paddle out at 7am and no one out till10am!!! I came here in 2007 and stayed for a good 5 weeks so I have gotten pretty comfortable with the wave. It reminds me a lot of the Cook Islands (which most Nzer’s visit each year as it’s only a 3 hour flight)
Once guys started turning up it got pretty hectic in the water, a lot of drop in’s and hassling, but it’s just part of it all and you have to accept it.
I had a lot of great days, 4-10ft, though 10ft is just too big for gringo!! A lot of closeouts and the barrel is not a perfectly open pit. You always hit the reef here and boosting off closeouts is always hard to land. A Hawaiian guy staying with us, Timmy Hamilton get pumped on a 6ft peak trying to backdoor it and end up opening his heal to the bone and getting eight stitches.Doc: what mix of Prone/DK/Stand-up Boogie are you riding?BM: I mainly prone, though I am fully amped to get into a bit of DK later this year and would probably DK over stand up surf.Doc: What boards are you running in your current quiver and what are your current faves?BM: I am sponsored by Mark Peterson who imports NMD in New Zealand and have been riding a 41.5 Ben Player with a crescent tail and channels in a Dow core with stringer and 60/40 rails. I have a Winny 41.5 in PP and a concave bottom which is epic when the waves are weaker. Living in Dunedin you hardly surf weak or onshore waves so you’re always riding boards which go well in heavy and hollow surf.Doc: What dimensions and core compositions are you finding hot for your riding at the moment?BM: Dow core is good in NZ as the water is cold, but concave bottoms are defiantly a great thing. I like heavier boards as they seem to plough through chop better and keep their momentum through flat sections of a wave. Bat tails have their place in weak surf, but I find standard crescents great for all round carving and control. I like relatively narrow boards with narrow noses and wide tails with reasonably far back wide point.
Doc: And how about accessories – leash, fins and wetsuits?[/i]BM: I use Gyroll leashes and Churchill flippers though the importer for NMD and wear O’Neil wetsuits though surf shop R and R sport in New Zealand. O’Neil make great cold water suits.Doc: D.O.B height and weight?BM: May 1st, 1980, 176cm tall and weigh 72kgDoc: Fave breaks – local and overseas?BM: Favourite wave in New Zealand would be a toss-up between PK bay about 1.5 hours from home which is just an epic Mexico style wave, in COLD water!! Also a beach break, Allen’s which is 30min from home and serves up great barrels to wrapping oncoming bowls and always has plenty of grunt as it comes out of deep water. My favourite wave for working on technical surfing for sure.
Overseas I love Nuggen (who doesn’t!!) and Gringo and Socials in Rarotonga.Doc: What would be the biggest wave you’ve taken on?BM: Jeez, I would have to say in Pasquales in Mexico, 10-12ft A-frame top to bottom beach break. Best waves of my life so far..............though we are heading off to Tahiti next year so that will hopefully change.Doc: And what’s the toughest wave you’ve hit up?BM: Dinner plates in the Catlin’s is always hard to surf due to such a step in the takeoff, so I’m going with that. Full Hawaiian style heavy and requires full commitment to make when big. I love surfing it will Sam Wells, he owns that place! Doc: Do you have a crew you hang with in the water?BM: I surf a lot alone as I work for myself personal training and study at university in Dunedin when I can, but when we head out of town then a few of us will car pool. Normally Hayden Parsons when he’s not being a family man, Sam Wells when I head up north (he’s a full charger, though loves his hair a bit much) Crowd wise it’s always good here, turn up to a perfect wedge beach break with just the car load you rocked up with. Gardy is always keen if he’s about as well.Doc: What’s the maddest road trip you’ve been on?BM: One that springs to mind was when I was 18. I had taken a local booger with me to a wave 4 hours away. I took him to stay at my mates house (who has the creepiest sense of humour) I decided to go for a run as there was no surf the first day. While away my mate proceeded to creep the poor grom out by getting up , getting the lawn mower and etching Nazi Symbols into lawn, later he told the grom that to stay you had to deliver some heavy sexual favours all with a straight face. By the time I got home the grom was sheet white. Driving home early in the morn I fell asleep at the wheel, completed a full 360 degree spin in the middle of the road and continued driving completely unharmed!!
I have had the odd crazy run in with the mongrel mob when in the North Island after throwing a 1.5 litre fizzy drink bottle at a guy on a motorcycle for a joke. He chased us for a good 10k before forcing us off the road and going mental. I played dumb, like I did it by accident and luckily my mate was Maori which probably saved my ass!!
The isolated challenge events I went to in 2006 and 2007 are always epic for great surf and fun times!!
Doc: Best boat trip?BM: Never done a boat trip!!!! So need to do a boat trip!!! Will have to enrol in another drug trail back home to get that one to happen!!Doc: Before I ask about your favourite boog photogs, a mate of yours is Chris Garden, who Riptide website FrontPage readers may recognise from the slideshows of this year’s Arica comp entirely shot by Chris. He’s a pretty respected photog around the place ( go see http://www.chrisgarden.com/ ) – and writes up a hell of an event report too, I must say, better than a lot of the so-called professionals who are meant to be giving the riders good representation.The Arica Exclusive Galleries are at:http://www.riptidemag.com.au/exclusive-galleryCan you give us a rundown on Gardo as a photog and as a bloke in general (always like to get the real/human side).BM: Yeah Gardy is super cool. Takes great photos of anything and loves bodyboarding for all the right reasons. He has a great reputation overseas, and it’s always funny back home as he is just Gardy to all of us and we all write him off (though we all secretly love him!!) Possibly the worlds cheapest man, though after I did 8 month trip through the Pacific, Mexico (living in a tent on the beach for 8 weeks!!!), Chile and early season Hawaii (camping in the hills) on $4,000 I think I have now taken the crown!Doc: Who are some of your fave photogs?BM: Phil Gallagher’s DLUX was incredible.
Two American guy’s Chris Allen (Interviewed Chris Allen in April this year here:
viewtopic.php?f=18&t=2291 ) and Brian Pezman take great images as well.
Chris Garden http://www.chrisgarden.com/ (NZ) as I have seen so much of his work.
Ryan Isherwood (Ryan's webby is in the pipeline, meantime he says to say he is a cool fella... haha) (NZ)
Sam Brookes http://www.pbase.com/samuelbrooks (NZ)
Kane McMillan http://www.pbase.com/kanemc/bodyboarders (NZ)
Doc: Board history – any chance you can remember and name the boards you have had under you over time? Fave ride ever of all of them?BM: I was sponsored by Wave Rebel by an NZ importer Dale Sattler as a grom, used to ride GT boards miles to big for me. But I remember this Brian Wise 41 inch bat tail I had which was just incredible. My first board was a Manta Eppo Air which will always hold a place in my heart as it was the board I did my first aerials on. We all had a Mike Stewart 7-7. Always to be remembered as it was a 7-7 ridden by Mike Stewart, black deck and orange bottom.Doc: Scariest moment on the boog?BM: Hmmmmmmmmmmmm. I wiped out on a decent one in Hawaii in 1999 on a 6ft set, landed arse first in the trough and smacked my lower back on the reef. Couldn’t move my legs for a good 30secs and thought I was going to be a cripple. I have had so many back injuries its crazy!!
In 2007 I got hammered head first into the reef at dinner plates, opened my scalp and ended up with full whiplash in my neck and golf ball size bumps on the back on my head for a few weeks!Doc: How would describe the boog scene in Australia at the moment and where do you see it heading?BM: Aussie bodyboarding is such a driving force in world bodyboarding. So much talent, guys pushing themselves and the sport higher and higher. The Tension series really elevated the level overall in big surf as well. Being from NZ we are definitely influenced by aussie riders.
I really just see the more technical surfing being done in the bigger waves. You know, surfing an 8ft wave like its 3-4ft. As far as new move, invert to air revs/back flips as a go for sure, apart from that I am not sure what the future holds for new moves.Doc: What do you reckon BB needs most at the moment?
BM: Diversity. Everywhere I travel in the world I see so much talent. That talent needs to be exposed, nurtured and motivated.
Bodyboarding companies run by bodyboarders will always help the sport. A great world tour with epic surf and good cash (which we really do have now) and coverage on mainstream TV of contests and free surfing. Everyone I meet who doesn’t know about bodyboarding and watches a video is always so impressed by the sport.Doc: What do you love most about the BB culture?BM: I love the freedom. Freedom to surf where I want, when I want, how I want. To just take off on a wave and have the ability and opportunity to make it something special. The giving and great boogs I know, a couch to sleep in, in every town and every country.Doc: Who would you like to give a shout-out to?BM: Big shout out to Alex Dade (love you man), Elisha Turen (you’re a super model babe!), Kevin McAlister (you are the glue that holds NZ competitive bodyboarding together), Gardy (you take nice photos of me!) Adam Hart (shave off your lamb chops; you might just get a girlfriend!) Dale Sattler (thanks for believing in me from the beginning and taking a chance and sponsoring me in the beginning)Doc: And finally who are your sponsors?BM: haha, I already plugged them, but again they are R and R sport, NMD, Churchill and Gyroll leashes.Thanks so much for your time BennyNo problems mate, I am now looking forward to 3 months in a back brace to let my fractured back finally heal. But I will be back in full force in 2010!!
Da Pics (waiting to sort photog on a few, so putting TBA for the mo). Have a few waiting permission from the photog, so more to come in the near future – sick ones too – yew!!
1. Ben Mackinnon Photog: Chris Garden
Caption: Heat one, round #1 win......sweet!!
2. Ben Mackinnon Photog: Chris Garden
Caption: On Suicide watch after losing heat!
3. Ben Mackinnon El Gringo Photog: cool brazillian guy at back packers
Caption: Air reverse part one
4. Ben Mackinnon El Gringo Photog: cool brazillian guy at back packers
Caption: Air reverse part two
5. Empty by Chris Garden
6. Ben Mackinnon El Gringo Photog: cool brazillian guy at back packers
7. Empty by Chris Garden
Caption: NZ reef break
8. Photog: Who knows, on the piss!!
Caption: When in doubt paint your body.
L to R Alex Dade, Hayden Parsons, Ben Mackinnon Dunedin crew
9. Ben Mackinnon El Gringo Photog: cool brazillian guy at back packers
Caption: Driving through a Gringo slab
10. Ben Mackinnon Photog: Chris Garden
Caption: Arica 09
11. Ben Mackinnon El Gringo Photog: cool brazillian guy at back packers
Caption: Driving through a Gringo slab part two
12. Ben Mackinnon Photog: Chris Garden
Caption: Arica 09
13. Photog: Chris Garden
Isolated Challenge 2008 Bmax in red hoodie
14. Photog: Tim Blackwood
Ben Mackinnon old skool DBah 99
15. Ben Mackinnon old skool DBah
Photog: Tim Blackwood
16. Ben Mackinnon by Phil Gallagher
Caption: Nuggen 09
17. Ben Mackinnon Photog: Edward Saltau
Caption: NZ beach break
18. Ben Mackinnon Photog: Chris Garden
Pk Bay by Chris Garden
19. Ben Mackinnon Photog: Dale Sattler
Old skool Raglan '98
Shot courtesy of NZ Lidders: " The vision of NZ Lidders is to promote and publicize New Zealand bodyboarding to New Zealand and the rest of the world."http://www.geocities.com/nz_lidders/LIDHOME1.html
20. Ben Mackinnon Nuggen by Chris Allen
Caption: Nuggen 09
21.Photog: Chris Garden
Caption: St Kilda NZ