Interview: Dave Rastovich

“I go through ebbs and flows with surfing for sure. Nothing seems spared from behaving like waves…at least that’s how I experience life.”
– Dave Rastovich


The questions and answers that follow may just make your soul comparatively cringe in comparison our subject’s story, but will ultimately inspire a certain restlessness to stir in you, as we guarantee that there is a lesson for everyone to take from Dave Rastaovich. If grasped in the right light, you could better your understanding of your relationship with the fluidic environment that we can not resist dabbling in, and life as a whole.

Through a varied and self-minded outlook, Dave Rastovich has become one of the most active watermen in the modern surfing realm. Being brought up with a greater appreciation for the grassroots of surfing and all that this entails, has allowed Dave to tap into a taken for granted relationship with our seas and all its inhabitants. At the age of 32, Mr Rastovich is paid to love the ocean, live in ideal remittance, be himself and live on the most eastern tip of Australia.

So Mr Rastovich, what essentials are a must for your Trunk?

Boardshorts, goggles, a swiss army knife, jumper leads, wax, spare fins, board,  glasses, lighter/matches, rope, and drinking water.

You dabbled heavily in competitive surfing, but then took a shying to a more boundless arena of professional free surfing. What inspired this decision?

An aversion to clocks and downright stupefaction that surfers would want to put a schedule/ rules/ numbers/ and hype around something as indescribable, intangible and free as wave riding!

Which surfers were you looking up to?

Margo was a role model for me. Only himself and maybe a handful of ‘free surfers’ were supported by surf companies to just go surfing, so I was very fortunate to slip into such a position.

When you first crossed over to free surfing, what was the initial agreement you had with your sponsors? Did it take some convincing on your part?

Basically, I said I was going to split from ‘pro’ surfing if it meant that I had to surf in contests, but Billabong didn’t want that so they helped me travel, experiment with surfing and document it for a year and we just never stopped.

So you’ve taken the traditional 9-5 job and run as far in the opposite direction as possible.  What does a typical day for you entail?

Surfing, gardening, stretching, writing, and nothing… whole lots of nothing. I like to watch the light on the creek ripple up onto the trunks of trees, I enjoy listening to the forest shift through different soundscapes through the day. Rest and stillness are absolutely cherished parts of my life. Most society feels that to be successful usually means you are run down, worn out, flat out with so much to do all the time. I think that this is bullshit.  Lots of hard working people spend their health to gain wealth and then spend their wealth trying to regain their health.

This brings me to my next point; in surfing you’ve reaped the benefits of our easily accessed oceans, but also taken on the responsibilities involved. Can you please tell us about the time in your life that you actively chose to make an effort in combating the ill-treatment, and misuse of our oceans and its inhabitants?

Surfing in various places around the world has shown me issues that are threatening many aspects of modern life that are crucial: clean air, water and earth. Basically, I am just trying to use my set of skills to learn more about the destructive aspects of my life, change them, and then share that with others.

The above has lead to you being largely involved in certain activist movements. What was the first movement experience you were involved in and how did you get into it?

I interviewed Paul Watson, founder of Sea Shepherd and that set me on my course of working on ocean conservation. He showed me how any skill set can be applied to the betterment of life, or at least directed that way. Even something as obscure and fruitless as being a paid free surfer.

Since then you’ve been involved with the Sea Shepherd and The Activist Film Festival where you launched your latest film ‘Minds in The Water’, and other movements from what we can gather. Do you feel like you’re making some progress?

I don’t feel like I can quantify ‘progress’ clearly.  Maybe I have had no progress in terms of saving specific animals from being killed, but hopefully, I helped to educate and motivate a young surfer into caring for their coastline and waterways… It is so hard to quantify.  I can’t imagine doing conservation campaigns; I have been doing them for the last eight years.

‘Minds In The Water’ showed some shockingly horrendous truths about man and the ocean. Please share a story from your expeditions?

Sitting in the Cove where dolphins and whales were being killed all around us is something  normally catches peoples’ attention.

The lifestyle you live now, is that reflected from the way you were brought up?

My family lived on a farm for a little while when I was a grommet, and so now I have come full circle back to that. I live on a property of 20 acres, two small rainwater tanks, two solar panels, veggie garden, fruit trees…simple days when we are here.

It would be an understatement to say that you have a love for everything fibreglass. How did you get into riding twin fin/ single fin/ retro boards?

They’re all flavours, none of us eat the same food every day of our lives. Surfing is the same for me.

Did the adoption of a retro quiver come naturally with the conversion to being a professional free surfer? Is that the thing to do when you quit competitive surfing?

No, I have a great friend called Dick van Straalen who has shaped boards for me since I was a grommet. He is nearly 70 years old now. So he has been my link to older designs with surfboards. DVS and I have so much fun working on experimental boards, bringing his older knowledge into modern ideas. Before it was ever ‘hip’ to have an interest in older crafts I have always been fortunate to just be involved in that because Dick has been like my second dad and has been shaping me such incredible boards.

Has there ever been a time in your life when you’ve lost the feeling/need to go surfing? Tell us about these ‘troughs’…

I go through ebbs and flows with surfing for sure. Nothing seems spared from behaving like waves…at least that’s how I experience life.

I grew my hair, lived out of my car, made surfing a permanent ingredient in my breakfast mix, and all my friends labelled me a gipsy. How do handle the labels that result from societal conditioning?

I am sure some people label me a hippy. I am sure I am labelled all kinds of things! An amazing elder ocean women from Florida always says to Lauren and me, ”It’s a full-time job minding your own business.” So I don’t ever consider what others think about me; I am giving my attention to the things I am creating and how people respond to that is completely their own responsibility and their ‘own business’.

Jokes aside, please leave us with one last insight, message, or word of advice that you’d like to see everyone embrace?

Do as little as you can as often as you can.


For more from Dave, view his Facebook page.

Browse the Trunk Junk collection; maybe even pick one out for yourself.

© Jonathan Boonzaaier 2016