Journals from Paradise

Rusty Surfboards team rider, Dustin Fiero, checks in from his own private Idaho...

photos: Scott Winer

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Waterlogged: Dustin Fiero

Local San Diego waterman and Rusty Surfboards team rider, Dustin Fiero, has worked out quite the ideal schedule allowing for maximum water time and minimal concerns.  Fiero spends a good chunk of his year life guarding in La Jolla, California and he is also a frequent visitor to the coveted island of Tavarua, home of the picture-perfect yet humbling waves Cloudbreak and Restaurants. 

In between his life guard shifts and his time on the island he is also known to chase down big swells that bring Todos Santos to life.... We were able to catch Fiero out of the water for a brief moment and here is what he had to say:

Photo: Winer

How has the surf been since your arrival?

The surf has been great... We have had some solid days and then some playful days great for my Dozer.

You have been charging some big waves recently, can you tell me about some of your more memorable big wave sessions over the winter?

I missed the swell that hit California in early november but we have had some solid swells down here.  We had a great morning session all by ourselves and then that evening there were some solid waves coming in. One wave almost tore my head off, I got held down for a while, it tore my shirt off and pushed me all the way to the tower- Kaeo came in on the ski and asked if I was OK. It was pretty much just the Tavarua guys out. Perfect for my Traveler.

Dustin tackles Todos

What is the vibe around Tavarua after the government  of Fiji revoked the exclusive wave rights?

Its been amazing as always.  The island is still magical and plenty of surf to be had.

Have you had a chance to surf any of the other nearby waves to Tavarua, like Wilkes, that were previously off limits to you?

Yea, as soon as the conditions change we are on it!

How have the crowds been?

During the peak surfing hours it can get a little crowded but being on Tavarua your able to take advantage of the early morning and late afternoon sessions plus any sessions in between. The conditions are constantly changing and it is to our advantage.

Photo: Winer

I understand you're quite the fisherman as well, any bites lately?

Yeah, we've been knocking the snot out of the fish, Eddie has been putting us right in the thick of all the tuna and Aku. We have been eating pretty good lately.

Spending time in Tavarua means lots of Kava, how many bowls of Kava have you had in one sitting?

I try to stay away from Kava, I usually get a bowl or two each week, just enough to keep me going.

Do you know every word to every song the Fijian women sing on the island?

Oh yeah, sing alongs almost ever evening.

What's the next big move for you after this stint on Tavarua?

I am headed to Australia. I am going to explore Ballina, head into Sydney, and make sure snapper is still a perfect right point. Then back to life guarding in La Jolla and waiting for south swells.

Time Out with Dustin Fiero

Dustin Fiero is coming to the end of his first boatman stint on Tavarua, one of the most sought after gigs in the industry, so we decided to check in with him and see how it went...

Age: 21
Home Town: San Diego
Travels: Tavarua, Mexico, Hawaii
Sponsors: Rusty, DC, Watermans, DaKine, Dragon, Futures, Uni Butter


How do  you spend a typical day as a Tavarua boatman?

I wake up at 5:30am, make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, take a surf boat out to Cloudbreak, eat again, hang out at the boat shed and make sure all is well, clean the boats, eat again, fillet fish, and do it again the next day...


How did you the land the coveted gig as "boatman"?

I cam out to Tavarua for the first time with Bird when I was 16.  I expressed interest in becoming a boatman and found out what I had to do to make it happen.  Over the course of the next five years I obtained my EMT certification, Ocean Life guarding certification, PWC certification and I was super persistent in following through with the management.

What was your scariest moment on Tavarua?

Just the other day a guest was surfing Restaurants and his board nailed him in the back.  He couldn't walk when he got to the beach and he was screaming in pain.  We had pulled him onto a stretcher and took him to the infirmary for evaluation.  It turns out he broke a vertebrae.


What is your most fond memory on Tavarua?

Hanging out with the staff and the other boatmen is great.  We laugh a lot and have a great camaraderie between us.

What are you future plans?

I am going to keep life guarding in San Diego and, hopefully, return as a boatman to Tavarua on a regular basis.


What boards did you bring on your first boatman's stint?

6'6" Traveler round tail

6'2" Redline round tail

5'11" GTR round tail quad

5'11" GTR round tail thruster

5'9" Hipster quad

What board do you find yourself riding the most?

The 5'11" GTR quad shaped by Hamon works so good! It's fast, responsive, and rides the barrel really good!


What other activities do you do on the island?

I spend most of my time fishing, free diving, and training.


Photos and Interview: Brody