South African Surfer Avuyile “Avo” Ndamase gets Sponsored by Vast
Vast, a unique independent lifestyle brand founded in Los Angeles with global connections to Asia, has become the sponsor of South African surfer and filmmaker, Avuyile “Avo” Ndamase.
Avo is passionate about the ocean, nature conservancy, clean eating, and uplifting African surfers and the African surf industry and culture.
In 2011, he was surfing with his 16-year-old brother Zama at a beach near his home in the town of Port St Johns in South Africa when a bull shark struck. Zama was killed. Avo made a short film called “Ocean Water” about his brother’s death and his desire for the ocean to inspire others.
The short film won the judges’ prize in the 2020 My RODE Reel competition (the world’s largest competition for shorts).
Founder of Vast, Sam Yang, has an international background himself. He was born in Taiwan, moved to Australia when he was 8 and finally settled down in the US when he was 12. Vast was founded after Sam organized a surf trip to Taiwan for well-travelled surfers, since no one really knew that it was a great place to surf. Sam decided to help grow surf culture in Taiwan. Since then, Vast has grown beyond Taiwan and is now available for consumers all over the world, with headquarters in Los Angeles.
Coming from two different parts of the world but sharing the same passions makes Vast. and Avo a great team! Sam wants to help Avo put focus on African surf culture and all the opportunities there are in Africa.
We caught up with Sam and Avo to discuss surf, life and the future.
Interview with Sam Yang
Hi Sam, where are you and what are you up to today?
Since July of last year I’ve been living in Taiwan. Being it was very difficult to travel this past year, I had to make a choice of where to stay and wait out COVID: LA or Taiwan. After heavy considerations, I moved my daughter back to Taiwan, where it’s been easier for a 5 year old to be a 5 year old, and also to be closer to the rest of my family. Although Taiwan is my birth place, this is the longest stretch I’ve lived here since emigrating back in 1988. I’m extremely home sick for SoCal to say the least, but this has also been an amazing journey, spending more time than ever with family, relearning the in’s and out’s of my birth country, and deeply exploring Taiwan’s coastlines, mountain ranges, and inner cities. We also just opened up a surf shop inside the city in Taipei, with our grand opening set for 5/8.
What was the inspiration for Vast?
VAST was born out of our love for nature, and specifically the ocean. A brand that brings people from the city, to the coastlines, into the water, on to the mountains, and back to the city. We are a surf brand first, but VAST extends beyond that and touches on other aspect of life that we are passionate about: culture, fashion, art, music, travel.
What motivated you to connect with and sponsor Avo?
We met Avo during our surf trip to South Africa years ago. Our mutual friend, Wesley Swartz, who help set up this trip asked Avo to be our travel guide. Avo shared his country, and his hometown with us with an open heart and we hit it off right off the bat. I’d say the sponsorship happened organically. Our core values and beliefs are in alignment so naturally the support was mutual. Avo helped spread the word for what VAST was doing, and we supported Avo with what he was doing. The way I see it, it’s really more of a “friendship” than a “sponsorship”.
What is the vision for your collaboration?
“Growing the pond.” Surfing is now a Multi-billion dollar market, and growing. Within this market that’s now full of corporate giants, there are still passionate individuals which great visions and dreams, like Avo, like me, like this tight VAST crew we have built over the years. We each have our strengths, weaknesses, resources, and support networks. I foresee us continuing to work together, joining ponds to create oceans, and give each other the necessary pushes and support to get us to the next stages in life.
Considering all the places you have been, what is unique about surf cultures you’ve experienced around the world?
This is a tough one! Every place is so different and great in its own way, I don’t know where to begin. If I may, instead of sharing about each place’s uniqueness, which one really needs to experience in person to appreciate, I like to share about the commonality of the cultures: respect and love for nature, and in general, life. What’s made this VAST journey possible is this commonality, that no matter where we go, we are lucky to meet individuals with the same love and values. Surf is our bond. The ocean is our playground. Our lives are our canvas. This what drives us to travel and explore. On the surface, it’s about chasing that perfect wave, but deeper within, the travels are about sharing our very different, yet similar cultures with each other. To build togetherness with our differences—This VAST life that bound by the oceans that flows through our veins.
Three words to describe your approach to the rest of 2021.
Go with it!
Interview with Avuyile “Avo” Ndamase
Hi Avo, where are you and what are you up to today?
So I am bouncing between home(Port St Johns in the Transkei) and Durban where I’m mostly based.
Congratulations on your film – it is incredibly impactful. What attracted you to filmmaking?
I met Timothy Hay through a friend Steve Michelsen whom I told my story to and was keen to collaborate with then he referred me to Tim. We had a few meetings and Tim was such a driving force to make everything happen, and to top it up he came with such high quality work ethic and his cinematographic skills. We basically worked together on every angle and when I got fatigued he would still push through to recreate such fond memories I had only verbally shared with him. We also had such good assistant film crew Dylan Theron and Kyle Smith, also the boys Mpathi Ndlovu(playing my brother) and Sanele Mthethwa(as young me) did super well and all their efforts equally contributed to making everything come together.
What is unique about African surf culture?
The African surfing culture is still young but in itself very diverse as South Africa is very diverse. Every single African surfer has their own story to tell as we come from very different backgrounds and communities. As for me I’ve been blessed to know everybody and been inspired by every story. It’s just beautiful to look back at coming from rural Eastern Cape and have moved around the country, also it’s been special to feel accepted in every surfing community.
What is the vision for your collaboration with Vast?
I feel like we are living the vision already, the most important about meeting people is to have a genuine connection with them and since I’ve met Sam and the crew I simply grow more and more fond of everybody behind the brand. Just one thing that stands out the most is the belief in nature and our responsibility to protect the ocean.
Do you plan to make more films? Any themes you can share with us?
I believe this is the beginning on sharing my story and my beliefs in my culture,nature,love and respect for all people. There is still a lot to share about especially in diversifying the surf culture as a whole.
Three words to describe your approach to the rest of 2021.
One word: patience. The last year has been really testing but we all managed to pull through as much as it was tough I personally believe that’s the one positive we can all take away from the lockdowns was we all got tested and we made it. The test of patience still continues but I believe we are stronger into this year.
For more information about Avo, connect on Instagram.
As a lifestyle brand founded in Los Angeles, California with global connections to Hawaii and Asia, Vast is committed to spreading good vibes, finding empty peaks, and celebrating the bounty of life in its many forms. Check out Vast at https://vastlife.com/ and https://www.instagram.com/vast.life_/.