Waterpeople LIVE at BBSF: Overcoming

Earlier this year we partnered with The Byron Bay Surf Festival to create an intimate gathering of aquatic story sharing.

Face to face gatherings and Live recordings are one of the keystones in the WHY of The Waterpeople Podcast. We want to create opportunities to gather our global surfing community and extend watery communities of divers, fishers, sailors, snorkelers, scientists, to share stories about the ways in which the ocean has changed our lives,  how we are changing the ocean, and how we can work together to do better.

I started the night with a question for everyone in the room:

Has any one been through something they absolutely thought they couldn’t get through — physically, emotionally, spiritually, or otherwise?

Yes. Me too.

Last year I nearly lost my mom. She’s young, but suddenly came down with an illness that led to the eventual amputation of her right leg. We flew to be with her, and stayed for months. I knew we both felt so alone. She alone in her recovery, in the pain and fear and suffering. And I felt alone in being the sole support for my single mama that’d raised me with all she had. It was sickening to see her mutilated, and painful to think about being on the planet without her.

The thing that felt good was hearing other people’s stories, the real ones. And getting in the ocean every day.

This experienced birthed a theme:

 OVERCOMING: stories of challenge, triumph and the sea.

Our storytellers — not professionals, but everyday water folk with their own exceptional abilities to glean profound lessons from mostly very challenging circumstances — led us bravely and vulnerably into some of the most challenging moments in their lives … and how they overcame them, or were overcome.

Our Storytellers:

Chip Richards,  formerly ranked #1 in the US for freestyle skiing, shares about a life changing injury disguised as a blessing that set him on a path to discover his life’s calling. Chip is an Olympic and Leadership coach and an author of bestselling books including Writing The Story Within. @chip.richards

Sally Mackinnon, PhD and poet, shares the remarkable story of resisting the call she heard from the ocean as a teen, amidst rampant sexism and the intimidating line-ups of The Gold Coast in the 70s. Surfing finally found her again in her 40s. Sally now works as a surf instructor and recently published a memoir about her surfing journey, Surfing As A Dance. @salmackinnon

Tim Baker, is a celebrated author specialising in the surf genre. He shares about living with cancer,  how surfing has given him portals of joy along that journey and what became his kind of personal mantra: “what’s in the way is the way.” @bytimbaker

Chrystal Dawn Fitzgerald, writer, photographer, filmmaker, shares a painful family secret that she’d kept for her entire life, until getting run over by a SUP at The Pass. The resulting punctured lung and broken ribs, she says, also cracked open her heart and sent her searching for answers. @thechrystaldawn

Dave Rastovich Waterpeople podcast

Dave Rastovich, our perpetual anecdote adder and waterman extraordinaire, shares the heartbreaking story of his father taking his own life, and how Dave found dark humour therein (spoiler: he did surf his dad’s coffin lid). @waterpeoplepodcast


Byron Bay Surf Festival, Dusty Boots Music & Felipe Baldomir for the beautiful music and the sponsors of Waterpeople podcast – Sanuk footwear & Gary Mcneill Concepts — for making the event possible and allowing us to experiment with raw storytelling and all those who made it our to our very first live event. And thanks to you for listening/reading along with us!

We’re planning another live podcast recording later this year in California, so stay tuned.

Also, we’re teaming up with our sponsors to give away a quiver of comfy footwear and a BRAND NEW Gary McNeill board.

To Enter:

  1. Subscribe to The Waterpeople Podcast on Apple Podcasts (or wherever you get your podcasts)
  2. Leave us a rating & comment

We’ll draw a name or two from the people who enter and announce the winner during episode 13 in December …. just in time for the holidays.



PhD and poet Sally Mackinnon shares about heeding the foam call later in life.

2 Thoughts

  1. Congratulations to Lauren and Dave,
    please check out http://www.globalwaveconference2020.com.au
    and register for this International Ocean Conservation event to be held at Gold Coast Campus Southern Cross University from 10th – 14th February, 2020 seeking outcomes for a healthier cleaner ocean environment for the future.
    Cheers Andrew McKinnon
    Chair Gold Coast World Surfing Reserves and Surf World Surf Museum yew.

  2. Thank you all for beautiful touching and meaningful stories. Right at a time when I need it most. My love to u all. Especially Lala and Dazid for being everything to me.

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