This year's award winners are chosen from nominees that you, the readers, said we should consider. Every year an ever-expanding list of people, groups, companies and assorted surfing entities begins to bulge in our in-boxes, and every year we call upon our judges (previous winners of the Emerald Path Award so far: Chris Hines, Glenn Hening, Matt George and Mark Massara) to join us in reviewing the list and selecting a nominee in each of seven categories. US Editor Drew Kampion and I then tally up the votes and discuss the way the cards have fallen. It's sometimes clear-cut, but often ambiguous. When we have agreed on the winners, we seek the approval of our judges again, then make these announcements. Here are the final verdicts. Thanks to you for your nominations, to the judges for their time and considerations, and to all of the nominees for making the surfing world an ever more positive place to be. - Alex Dick-Read
Individuals Who Surf Winner: Dave Rastovich Dave Rastovich got half the votes, and former Midnight Oil front man, surfer and now Australia's Minister for the Environment, Peter Garrett got the other half. Peter Garrett has only recently been elected to a position of real executive power, so we figured it would be smarter to wait to see how he does in this role. Most environmental activists effect change from without, but he has his hands on the levers of power, so we want to watch and see how he uses them. In light of this, Dave Rastovich was our preferred choice for the award. We had some initial issues with the fact that, however bohemian and off-the-wall, he's a mainstream surf pro working for one of the big surf companies. But we feel he deserves great respect for using his position of privilege and mass appeal to send out some powerful, positive messages, at some personal and professional risk.
As a founder of Surfers for Cetaceans, which aims to stop the slaughter of whales and dolphins worldwide, Rasta has shown that he sticks with his principles and lives by his beliefs. Earlier this year he was in Taiji Bay, Japan where they annually murder thousands of dolphins and pilot whales. Rastovich led a small group of protestors who snuck into the bay and paddled out through the bloody water to try and stop the killing. Risky business. Through clever maneuvering the crew managed to narrowly avoid being assaulted, arrested and worse. The slaughter was only slowed, not halted, but the intended message went far and wide. Rastovich is closely associated with the wonderfully radical Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, which believes in direct action to protect the planet, and as one of Sea Shepherd's most high-visibility crew-members, he's spreading their philosophy into demographics that don't normally make space for things like front-line activism. Even within Billabong, Rasta has spearheaded the enlargement of their organic and PET surf clothing range, which they might easily not have bothered with. So while at first glance Dave Rastovich may seem to be just another talented surfing pop icon, he's not. He stands out from those who dare not risk their contracts with anything more radical than a late take-off, and thus he is a worthy recipient of this award.
Jack Johnson responds: "The Surfer's Path is a magazine that makes you feel proud to be a surfer," Jack said on learning he'd received our award, "Not just because of the imagery and vibe, but because of the topics they choose to focus on, and the integrity of their production. I am honored to be associated with such a great publication."
Images by: Hilton Dawe and Branden Aroyan; Artwork by: Rick Reitveld