“Rasta …what’s that guy like?”
I fielded this question numerous times, more than any other–save the standard, “How was your trip?”– upon returning from a recent boat trip. At first it was a tough question to answer. Many saw glimpses of Rasta’s personality from Jack McCoy’s Blue Horizon, and so many are intrigued by this New Age surf star. Dave Rastovich is unique. He maintains a broad quiver (which includes Greenough-style mats, longboards, fishes and everything in between), lives an alternative lifestyle (vegetarian, practices yoga, lives at Byron Bay), and surfs with Curren-esque style and inspiration. But these external things don’t make him unique; rather it is the internal mechanisms that set him apart. He is viewpoints are deep and thoughtful, his “hippie vibe” (as someone once called it) is better described as honesty, with inward reflection as its catalyst.
He isn’t the way he is because it’s cool to be a free-loving free-surfer, and he doesn’t ride freaky boards because it’s currently fashionable to do so.
Perhaps the best way to answer the question is to say that Dave Rastovich is an adult–a very refreshing description in a culture spilling over with men of large egos and childish behavior. What is he like? Read on and you decide. —Scott Bass
SURFERMAG.COM: Can we just start off, Dave, with a little bit about where you grew up?
RASTA: I spent the first five years of my life in New Zealand on a farm, then my whole family, we moved to the Gold Coast in Australia. I grew up around the northern part of the Gold Coast ‘til I was 14, and then I grew up at that end of surfing Burleigh, that was the premier spot. Then when I was 15-ish my parents split, I moved to Burleigh for a week, then the northern end of the Gold Coast for a week, so I would spend time down with my mom in Burleigh for a week, then my dad for a week in the northern end of the Gold Coast. I did that ‘til I was about 18. Now I live south of there, between the Gold Coast and Byron Bay. As I was growing up, I guess my life was spent in Burleigh, that was where I always surfed at all the time. It was pretty amazing to live there and see the older guys at Burleigh and the nature of their surfing, being very kinda stylish. I guess flowing really, really flowing with the wave. When you’re at a point break like that where you’ve got a lot of room to think about what your body is doing and feel what your body is doing between turns, it’s a natural reaction to that environment for your style to be kinda longer, more drawn out. So I think I really adopted that kind of approach of surfing from seeing the older guys where I live really having an emphasis on flow and rhythm, so that was really cool, and also you’d see the pros come to town at the start of every year for the contests, so you’d get to see that whole aspect of surfing as well. But generally it was just the local boys, a very tight group, very localized. It’s all about the barrel, especially at Burleigh, it’s such a good barrel.
SURFERMAG.COM: If I could bring you back a little bit and talk about the time your parents got divorced, was that something that was traumatic, or…?
RASTA: It was funny, around that period I didn’t see it as a volatile situation. I saw acting on that situation was more advantageous to growth and things, and I celebrated the growth of personalities (parents) and to act on certain things.
SURFERMAG.COM: What do you mean ‘to act on things’?
RASTA: Well instead of just them staying together and feeling obligated to stay together for the kids and not being able to act on all the strong feelings they both had. And thus just everything being stagnant, but not really stagnant because it was probably boiling to the surface still. But they accelerated the process by acting straightaway.
SURFERMAG.COM: What did your dad do for a living?
RASTA: My dad, when I was real young, was in the Special Services in New Zealand and in terror squads and things. Very, very intense job. Then we moved to Australia and he did a bunch of things, small businesses and stuff. Then he developed this skill for healing. He just became this amazing natural therapist and Chinese herbalist and kinda sports medicine. He is a very sporting, athletic, amazing, physical person…very strong and very fit and powerful, so he really understood the nature of sports medicine and stuff and he just went off. He went from being a complete kind of aggressive and moody person and really strung out and stuff, to being very helpful and healing and supportive to a lot of people. So that was pretty amazing to see that happen also when they split up, so that was when I was 14. To see that change in someone, and especially in your dad, you know, the person you look up to the most. To see a change like that happen…so he dived into that world for the next six or eight years ‘til I moved outta the home. My mom was a real sporting too, a kinda outrigger paddle lady who just did a job that allowed her to have enough money to go and do holidays and sport. Her job wasn’t the kinda job where she poured her heart and soul into it. It was just what she did to get by and be happy and be able to paddle outriggers and go to Hawaii every year. She’s a very happy-go-lucky kind of a person.
SURFERMAG.COM: Was your family above average as far as wealth is concerned?
RASTA: Oh, the average, the average house, you know, just living in your own house. You know, just living in our own house and paying off a hefty mortgage like the rest of everyone else, and the majority of Australians.