Out of the ‘Twilight’ and into the big-wave spotlight with Dan Ross

Dan Ross and Sally Fitzgibbons hit the red carpet. Instagram @Sally_Fitz

Dan Ross and Sally Fitzgibbons hit the red carpet. Photo via Instagram @Sally_Fitz

"My girl and I were on the red carpet for the Twilight premiere in L.A., and we brought along Sally Fitzgibbons, who is a massive Twilight fan. I looked at Sal and we just laughed. Two Australian country kids, surfers, on the red carpet in Hollywood."

Australian surfer Dan Ross is talking about a rather surreal experience that he shared in 2012 with Fitzgibbons, the former World No. 2–ranked surfer whom he coaches, and his girlfriend, Mia Maestro. Maestro is an Argentinian actress and singer-songwriter, best known for her role as Nadia in the TV series "Alias," but also for her movie roles in the Twilight saga, Frida, and The Motorcycle Diaries.

Ross is a former World Tour competitor who divides his time between Los Angeles and his hometown of Yamba in New South Wales, two places that couldn't be more different. "I like L.A. because it's where a lot of people live that are very good at what they do, be it arts, film, business, or whatever," he says. "But I'm lucky that I get to travel, chase swells, and also spend big chunks [of time] back in Yamba. And Mia has a passion for the ocean and outdoors, so it works well."

Yamba is a small coastal town that happens to host the break of Angourie, one of Australia's best waves. For 40 years, "Angus" has been a surfing-culture hot spot and a testing ground for Australia's best surfers. Ross was brought up in the middle of all that, his stepfather being Baddy Treloar, the godfather of Angourie. "I remember when I was 11," Ross says, "Martin Potter turned up at our house to surf with Baddy, but he was out, so he took me. I was cruising down the main street with Pottz in his big black 4WD and I just couldn't believe it."

After a successful pro career, Ross finished with the elite World Tour in 2012. That transition from athlete to civilian life can be tough, although Ross has done it better than most. Even when he was competing, he was a performance coach with Red Bull, a role he still fulfills, while as a Patagonia Ambassador he tests their equipment and gives feedback in such giant waves as Jaws in Hawaii and Ours in Sydney. In fact, his big-wave efforts have put him back in the surfing spotlight, and you sense that is just the start. He has started a successful environmental initiative called One Bottle for Life.

"It's a movement promoting reusable drinking bottles for the good of our Earth," says Ross. "We want to revolutionize and change people’s thoughts to refill, reuse, and create real solutions to help minimize plastic pollution by helping people try to use just one bottle for their whole life." Ross has secured partnerships with One Percent for the Planet and for events on the 2014 ASP World Tour. He is one of the few surfers who have transformed environmental concerns into a vibrant and realistic activism.

Between his Hollywood red-carpet premieres, coaching of surfing's elite athletes, tackling the biggest waves in the world, and his environmental programs, Dan Ross seems to not have merely survived the difficult transition from pro surfer, but has made it a very successful one.

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