|ESPN.com: Surfing||[Print without images]|
Hoping for the best and preparing for the worst, Billabong surfer Dave "Rasta" Rastovich is facing high seas as he nears the end of a two-week paddle trip to raise awareness about seabed mining off New Zealand's coast.
With forecasts predicting a 10-foot swell hitting the black sands of Piha, the final stretch of Rastovich's latest oceanic voyage is shaping up for a tough finish.
"[The] weather looks pretty wild at this stage," Jonathan "JJ" Jenkins, director of media and publicity for Premium Media, told ESPN.com, adding, "But these weekly forecasts always start out big and downgrade."
|Billabong surfer Dave "Rasta" Rastovich will face treacherous waters near the end of his two-week paddle to raise awareness about New Zealand sea bed mining.|
Either way, the 32-year-old Rastovich is still on track to haul out on December 1 at Piha, wrapping up his roughly 215-mile journey. On November 16, after a traditional Maori blessing, he climbed aboard his custom-built 17-foot paddle board and shoved off from Cape Taranaki.
Along the way, Rastovich -- who was born in New Zealand and lives in Australia -- has been drumming up opposition to seabed mining projects proposed for the island nation's west coast, the length of which is under either a prospecting or exploration permit for iron sand.
"This campaign is about awareness and education and supporting the great work of community based groups like KASM [Kiwis Against Seabed Mining]," Rastovich said in a statement. " We're urging people to just have a look at the facts and how that will impact them and their community. There is so much at risk -- Wiping out the Maui's dolphin, losing sand, stirring up the seabed, disturbing and releasing toxins, creating huge dead zones ... this is an issue that is going to affect everyone in New Zealand."
Rastovich is widely recognized in the surf community and beyond for his environmental activism. Back in April he teamed up with legendary Dogtowner Peggy Oki in her ongoing campaign to help save the Maui's dolphin, the planet's most critically endangered dolphin species, with recent studies pointing to just 55 adults remaining. Before that, his TransparentSea educational flotilla cruised 300-miles of Southern California coast to throw a spotlight on a range of ocean-related issues, from polluted runoff to whales getting run over by cargo ships.