Byron to Bondi - Rasta's massive paddle mission.

Rasta and his in-shore paddle/sail-powered long-distance whaling vessel. Photo by Hilton Dawe

Professional free-surfer and environmental campaigner David Rastovich will attempt an epic 700km ocean paddle from Byron Bay to Bondi Beach this October.

The journey aims to follow the annual migration south of humpback whales and their calves while raising awareness of the need to protect the majestic mammals and the world’s ocean environments.

Twenty nine year-old Rastovich (Brunswick Heads, AUS) is using the paddle to extend his personal environmental journey which in 2006 saw him co-found the “Surfers for Cetaceans” movement and in July this year saw him granted one of just 200 invitations to attend former US Vice President Al Gore’s The Climate Project – Asia-Pacific Summit.

On October 1st “Rasta”, accompanied by world-class water photographer Hilton Dawe (Byron Bay, AUS) and a videographer who will help chronicle the event, will step from the sands of Main Beach, Byron Bay and begin the journey in single-seat sea kayaks.

Joining them will be Chris Del Moro (Los Angeles, USA) a respected free surfer, activist, artist and co-director of Surfers for Cetaceans.

Assisted only by the wind and waves, Rasta and his cohorts will paddle the entire distance aiming to reach Bondi by November 5th. Each afternoon they will paddle to the nearest beach, rest overnight, engage with local communities and – conditions permitting – take advantage of the local surf.

The primary intention of the journey is to draw attention to the plight of the migrating whales that ultimately are destined for the chilly waters of the Southern Ocean and the inevitable visits by Japanese whaling fleets.

In addition, the team will record and highlight other areas of environmental concern including the effects of the commercial fishing industry on marine mammals and fish stocks; run-off issues to do with agricultural, domestic and industrial human activities; the state of rivers and estuaries; and where necessary they will also initiate beach clean-ups.

It is a well-intentioned odyssey that, at worst, is certain to be an incredible test of endurance but will also, quite possibly, double as the surf-trip-of-a-lifetime.

“What excites me the most is being able to combine the high-risk elements of surfing and sailing and the notion of endurance and pushing your body,” said Rastovich. “I’m eager to bring those elements together with environmental awareness initiatives.

“Our intentions are that, after 36 days and 700 kilometres, we’ll have helped educate a lot of people on the beauty and majesty of the whales, plus the impact we all have on what is such an amazing stretch of coastline and in what ways we might all implement positive change.”

An additional kayak will be made available to a small roster of like-minded invited guests – individuals who share the mission’s sense of purpose and who are able to help bolster public awareness.

Participants already scheduled to take part include eight-time Molokai-to-Oahu paddling champion Jamie Mitchell, former world #5, pro surfer Matt Hoy, and professional surf commentator, editor and musician Adam ‘Vaughan’ Blakey.

“Our intentions are to reach Bondi and celebrate the completion of our voyage with Captain Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society,” said Rastovich.

“We expect to be crossing paths with the Sea Shepherd crew on the journey as they take their ship, the Steve Irwin, to Perth where they will launch their next campaign to save our whales in Antarctica. The same whales we will be paddling alongside.”

The official Transparentsea launch will take place on Thursday, October 1st at Main Beach, Byron Bay. Here, members of the Aboriginal Bundjalung tribe will don traditional dress and perform a farewell ceremony. Following the ceremony, the kayakers will paddle out to meet the whales and begin their long voyage south to Sydney.

The iconic sights of Byron Bay’s lighthouse and lush surrounds of Cape Bryon will provide the ideal backdrop for media on hand to capture the start of this epic adventure. More information will be distributed closer to the launch date.

For media or special guests interested in participating in one or more legs of the journey, please contact jj@premiummedia.com.au

A website will be set-up outlining the mission, including information on equipment, intended routes, photos and video for media, and a daily blog. More details to follow.

“Transparentsea” a Modern Voyage with Ancient Creatures, is being made possible with the support of Billabong, Coastal Watch, Surfing World Magazine, the Surfrider Foundation and Surfers for Cetaceans.

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