Nicknames: Rasta, or the “Yeti”.
DOB: 31st December, 1980.
Born: New Zealand, and moved to Australia at the age of six.
Lives: Byron Bay, NSW, Australia.
Heroes: “Everyone I meet is my hero, we all have qualities worthy of admiration and inspiration.”

Typical Board: Rasta owns and is known for his incredible ability to ride many different boards. On any day of the week you could find him skipping along on his guts on a blow up surf mat, spinning 360s (nude!) on an aleia, gouging huge cutbacks on a conventional quad or thruster, heading up the coast somewhere on a 17ft paddle board or not riding anything at all (bodysurfing).

History & Achievements: Before turning his back on competition to become one of the world’s first, recognised professional ‘freesurfers’, Rasta enjoyed a string of good results punctuated by wins in the U/16 World Grommet Titles in Bali, Pro Junior wins at pumping Burleigh Heads and finals placings in the Billabong World Junior Championships. He turned his back on the springboard to the ASP World Tour, the World Qualifying Series, when he realised the traditional competitive route was not for him.

As a nipper (young, Australian life saver), Rasta was an incredible talent, regularly winning swimming and board races alongside the likes of future Aussie Olympian Grant Hackett.

In recent years, Rasta’s prowess on a variety of equipment in waves of all shapes and sizes, have won him a huge global audience spanning all ages.

In 2001 he won the Open Class division of the Molokai to Oahu Hawaiian inter-island paddle race, considered the world championship for long-distance open ocean paddling.

But it’s Rasta’s commitment to environmental issues, with a particular focus on the ocean and its inhabitants that motivate his cause and really continue to inspire others.

In 2006, Rasta, along with fellow activist and Sea Shepherd crewmember, Howie Cooke, co-founded the group “Surfers for Cetaceans” (www.s4cglobal.org).

The S4C group is committed to activating ocean-minded people everywhere to support the conservation and protection of whales, dolphins and marine life.

An initial visual petition inspired a legion of supporters, including surf industry heavyweights, tour champions and globally renowned musicians like Jack Johnson, Ash Grunwald and Xavier Rudd.

The early days of the S4C movement are well documented in Rasta’s bio-pic, “Minds in the Water”, a multi award winning film that follows Rasta’s journey during a five year period from “apathy to activist” as he participated on campaigns in Australia, Chile, the Galapagos, Tonga, California, Alaska and Japan.

The imagery from Japan and Taiji’s infamous ‘killing cove’ is among Minds’ most unforgettable and graphic sequences. It was in Taiji where Rasta led a small group of surfers into bloodied water as a form of peaceful protest against the mass slaughter of dolphins by Japanese fishermen.

Accompanied by the likes of Hollywood actresses Isabel Lucas and Hayden Panettiere, the footage was captured and presented for the first time in the controversial and landmark documentary, “The Cove”, which won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 2010.

Since, Rasta has spearheaded significant campaigns under the S4C banner that include an oceanic odyssey from Byron Bay to Bondi dubbed “TransparentSea” (2009). This epic, six week long anti-whaling and environmental initiative involved a small crew of like-minded individuals who peddled, surfed and sailed tiny kayaks down Australia’s Eastern Seaboard, following the path of migrating humpback whales. The trip was conducted in conjunction with Tangaroa Blue and the Surfrider Foundation and achieved global media coverage. It was awarded the Australian Surf Business Surf Industry Award at the Australian Surfing Hall of Fame Awards in 2010.

In 2011, a second TransparentSea initiative was undertaken in the USA, this time along the Californian coast, beginning at Gaviota in the north and culminating four weeks later in San Diego. The journey highlighted the plight of cetaceans and cast the spotlight on other important coastal and marine issues.

Positive outcomes included the reduction of ship speeds in the Santa Barbara channel (thereby reducing the number of blue and grey whale strikes); renewed interest and vital donations to volunteer-based organisations such as San Pedro’s Marine Mammal Care Centre and a song co-written and performed by the Band of Frequencies and famed Australian musician Angus Stone titled “These 20 Miles”. The track was gifted royalty-free to the local Surfrider Chapter, inspiring a short film and an outreach campaign that continues to help protect the last pristine area of coastal land in Southern California from constant threat of development.

In 2012, Rasta returned to his birthplace, completing an ambitious 350km open ocean paddle from Cape Taranaki to Piha, west of Auckland on New Zealand’s North Island. The daring initiative was undertaken to draw awareness to the work of KASM (Kiwis Against Seabed Mining) and the plight of another cetacean, the critically endangered Maui’s Dolphin. Again, the S4C initiative attracted international media attention, but the two-week journey was not without its hurdles. On day one, Rasta was toppled into the sea, hurting his arm as he clung desperately to his board. Later, he was pushed to his mental and physical limits crossing the Manakau inlet during raging seas and heaving tides.

With Rasta’s involvement, Billabong proudly manufactures and sells a range of eco friendly recycled boardshorts, organic T-Shirts and other products, with a percentage of sales directed to future S4C campaigns and ongoing ‘green’ product development.

Films starring Rasta that you might want to check out: This Time Tomorrow (2012), El Mar, Mi Alma (2012), The Heart and the Sea (2012), Minds in the Water (2011), Castles in the Sky (2009), The Cove (2009), Sipping Jet Streams (2007), Life Like Liquid (2006), Blue Horizon (2003)

Sponsors: Billabong, Electric, Sanuk, Future Fins, Sector 9

Interesting fact: In 2009 Rasta was granted one of just 200 invitations to attend former US Vice President Al Gore’s The Climate Project - Asia-Pacific Summit.

Dave Rastovich