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Her Life's a Beach
Rockaway Beach Surfer Davina Grincevicius on Community, Commitment, and Finding Her Passion
Australian-born surfer, filmmaker and creative director Davina Grincevicius is never content to sit on the sand. “You’ll never learn anything about yourself standing on the shore,” says the 38-year-old New York City resident. “Sometimes those days when it just doesn’t seem worth paddling out—those are the days you can have a lot of fun.” This passion and bravery resonates into all aspects of her life: as a mother to a young son, as the NYC Women’s Surf Film Festival director, and as the co-founder of the Lava Girl Surf organization at her local break in Rockaway Beach, New York.
Sadly, sitting on the sand is exactly what she did growing up in Melbourne. “We would go to the beach on the weekends and my friends’ brothers would surf, but as a girl, it just wasn’t something I saw any other girls doing—so it just wasn’t my reality.” But, like any girl with an adventuresome spirit, she knew there was more to life than just being beach towel candy. As soon as she was old enough, she spread her wings and flew. Her travels led her all over Europe in her 20s before moving to New York City in 2007 and focusing on her career in marketing and advertising. She fell in love with the high pace of New York, but still—it felt like something was missing.
It was during a trip to Puerto Rico when Davina, then 32, finally found her mojo. “After just one session it just clicked for me and I completely understood why people loved surfing so much. I was hooked.” Despite it being early fall when she returned home to Brooklyn, she immediately went out and bought a board and wetsuit and went straight out to Rockaway Beach in Queens. For the next few years, Davina slept, ate and breathed surfing. Every morning she’d wake up at 4:30 a.m., take her board and head out to Rockaway to get in a session before heading back into Manhattan for her day job. “I would practically fall asleep at my desk by 3 p.m. but I didn’t care, I knew I was doing exactly what I was meant to do. I didn’t care how cold or windy it was, all I cared about was catching waves and getting better.”
A badass surfer girl had been awoken inside Davina, and eventually all aspects of her life would revolve about her passion for the ocean, for art—and for Rockaway Beach. It was also there that she met her partner, Brandon, at Beach 90th. She eventually moved there herself and hit true local status on the shore and in the ocean. “They say if you learn to surf Rockaway you can surf anywhere in the world,” jokes Davina. “It can be a rough break, it’s not warm for very long, and sometimes it can be intimidating,” she says. “In just the last 6 years, I’ve seen this beach and this entire area go from a relatively quiet beach town to a vibrant, connected community, and I feel like I’ve been able to play a small role in that.”
Lava Girl Surf began with the first NY women’s surf workshop in 2012, where more than a hundred women came to learn the fundamental elements of surfing, including surfboard design, ding repair, surf forecasting, surf etiquette, and share in the powerful connection that surfing created between them. “Surfing is different than any other sport for that reason,” says Davina. “When you learn to surf you become a part of a group of like-minded people and it’s a very supportive, creative and empowering community that Lava Girl Surf wants to continue to grow and inspire.”
Energized by her community’s support, Davina sought to share her passion of surfing and the art of filmmaking with even more women, and in 2013 started the NYC Women’s Surf Film Festival, showcasing the “Women of the Seven Seas” and offering a celebratory venue for women surfers and artists to share their stories over a shared bond and love for the ocean. Now in its fourth year, LUNA Bar will be a presenting sponsor at this year’s festival—and as always Davina is looking ahead to see how this partnership can help her reach and inspire more women. “At this year’s festival we have people coming from as far away as Denmark,” says Davina. “I would love the NYC Women’s Surf Film Festival to screen in multiple locations around the world. By embracing a larger global audience, we can continue to promote the women’s surf community, and encourage more films to be made”.
Much like the surfing community, becoming a mother has given Davina a new connection to others, a deeper focus and passionate drive to be the best that she can be. But, she admits, it can be hard to actually get out everyday and surf now that 18-month-old Zephyr is her top priority. “But that’s one of the beautiful things about being a surfer,” she says. “Once a surfer, always a surfer. And it’s the same way with motherhood. We’re all in this together.”
These days, instead of sitting on the sand, Davina is carving her place in the world of women’s surfing—one awesome wave at a time.